Tilling the Hateful Earth: Agricultural Production and Trade in the Late Antique East

Tilling the Hateful Earth: Agricultural Production and Trade in the Late Antique East

Hardback Oxford Studies in Byzantium

By (author) Michael Decker

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 236mm x 30mm | 699g
  • Publication date: 4 October 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199565287
  • ISBN 13: 9780199565283
  • Illustrations note: 21 black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,607,967

Product description

This book explores the agrarian landscape and economy of the eastern Mediterranean from modern Israel to Turkey. This region experienced a surge in population between the fifth and sixth centuries AD that raised the population to levels often only regained in the late twentieth century. Cities expanded and the eastern lands reached a pinnacle of cultural expression and economic prosperity in the century before the arrival of Islam. Behind all this lay the ability of Roman farmers to feed themselves by producing a reliable surplus of food. Michael Decker describes precisely how this was done: how plants critical to survival were grown and how new plants were introduced. He also catalogues the range of intensive farming methods used and the rise of cash-crop farming based on olive oil and wine that was traded throughout Europe, western Asia, and parts of Africa.

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Author information

Michael Decker is Maroulis Professor of Byzantine History and Orthodox Religion at the University of South Florida.

Review quote

Tilling the Hateful Earth will be extremely valuable in its synthesis of an enormous corpus of archaeological scholarship on the late antique east. That this work is so thoroughly researched and clearly written should make it a new starting point for research of the eastern Mediterranean in the later Roman period. David K. Pettegrew, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

1. The land: climate and geography ; 2. The countryside in Late Antiquity ; 3. Hand to mouth: grain in Late Antiquity ; 4. The vine ; 5. The 'queen of all trees': the olive in late antique agriculture ; 6. Invading the desert: irrigation and agrarian expansion ; 7. Mixed farming and limited specialization: methods and means of intensification ; 8. Trade, agriculature, and the economy of the late antique East