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

Paperback | June 30, 2007

byJairus Banaji

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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 goldcoinage 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 seventhcenturies. 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 chapterdefines 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 moregenerally.

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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 goldcoinage that circulated widely. In successive chap...

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

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.75 inPublished:June 30, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199226032

ISBN - 13:9780199226030

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Rural Landscape of the Late Empire2. Weber, Mickwitz, and the Economic Characterization of Late Antiquity3. The Monetary Economy of the Late Empire and its Social Presuppositions4. Existing Accounts of the Byzantine Large Estate5. The Changing Balance of Rural Power AD 200-4006. A Late Antique Aristocracy7. Estates8. Wage Labour and the Peasantry9. Conclusion

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