Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity: Gold, Labour, and Aristocratic Dominance

Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity: Gold, Labour, and Aristocratic Dominance

Paperback Oxford Classical Monographs (Paperback)

By (author) Jairus Banaji

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 232mm x 20mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 12 July 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199226032
  • ISBN 13: 9780199226030
  • Edition: 2, Revised
  • Edition statement: Updated Edition
  • Illustrations note: 1 map
  • Sales rank: 1,518,841

Product description

The economy of the late antique Mediterranean is still largely seen through the prism of Weber's influential essay of 1896. Rejecting that orthodoxy, Jairus Banaji argues that the late empire saw substantial economic and social change, propelled by the powerful stimulus of a stable gold coinage that circulated widely. In successive chapters Banaji adduces fresh evidence for the prosperity of the late Roman countryside, the expanding circulation of gold, the restructuring of agrarian elites, and the extensive use of paid labour, above all in the period spanning the fifth to seventh centuries. The papyrological evidence is scrutinized in detail to show that a key development entailed the rise of a new aristocracy whose estates were immune to the devastating fragmentation of partible inheritance, extensively irrigated, and responsive to market opportunities. A concluding chapter defines the more general issue raised by the aristocracy's involvement in the monetary and business economy of the period. Exploiting a wide range of sources, Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity weaves together different strands of historiography (Weber, Mickwitz, papyrology, agrarian history) into a fascinating interpretation that challenges the minimalist orthodoxies about late antiquity and the ancient economy more generally.

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Author information

Jairus Banaji is a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Review quote

"This work is indispensable."--Greece & Rome

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Rural Landscape of the Late Empire ; 2. Weber, Mickwitz, and the Economic Characterization of Late Antiquity ; 3. The Monetary Economy of the Late Empire and its Social Presuppositions ; 4. Existing Accounts of the Byzantine Large Estate ; 5. The Changing Balance of Rural Power AD 200-400 ; 6. A Late Antique Aristocracy ; 7. Estates ; 8. Wage Labour and the Peasantry ; 9. Conclusion