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Latifundia/Large estates

(2,459 words)

Author(s): Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] I. Overview Only limited reliable information exists regarding the extent of large estates (LE) in antiquity. Most statements about estates of rich Greeks and Romans are of anecdotal or rhetorical nature and therefore hardly credible. Very few documents give information about the size or the value of the majority of estates in a specific region. Archaeology can verify farm buildings, but seldom estate borders. Still, with a few exceptions a long-term tendency towards latifundia expa…


(445 words)

Author(s): Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] In the Roman period, the term vilicus (from villa , 'house/estate') generally described an estate administrator, but sometimes also lower administrative personnel in private or public service ( Caesaris vilicus: ILS 1612; 1617; 1620; 1621; 1795; 5453; 7368; in tax collection: ILS 1557; 1565; 1854; 1857; 1862; 1865). A typical vilicus was a slave (Slavery) or a freedman charged by a permanently absent landowner with administrating a medium-sized estate with slaves. Such estates were widespread in Italy from the 2nd cent. BC until …

Heroninus Archive

(556 words)

Author(s): Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] The Heroninus Archive (HA) consists of over 1,000 Greek papyri, mostly letters, balance sheets and receipts from the middle of the 3rd cent. AD. They are in fact documents relating to the administration of the large estates, located in the Arsinoítēs nomós (Fayum/Egypt;  Arsinoe [III 2]), of Aurelius Appianus, who belonged to the council of Alexandria. Appianus' central administration had its seat in Ptolemais Euergetis, the capital of the nomós, and was conducted by councillors from the region. At the head of the administration stood Alypius, hims…


(346 words)

Author(s): Rathbone, Dominic (London) | Zimmermann, Bernhard (Freiburg)
(Φαίνιππος; Phaínippos). [German version] [1] Attic landowner, around 320 BC The country estate of P., son of Callippus, is described in an Attic court speech around 320 BC (Ps.-Dem. Or. 42). In the antídosis proceedings the plaintiff demands that P. should be placed on the list of the three hundred richest Athenian citizens, who bore the heaviest burden of the financial cost of liturgies ( ibidem 42,3f.), instead of himself. P.’ property was unusual for two reasons: on the one hand, P. was the only heir of his father and, at the same time, of his grandfather on h…


(765 words)

Author(s): Rathbone, Dominic (London) | Thür, Gerhard (Graz)
(ἐπίτροπος; epítropos). [German version] [1] Alongside a great number of other titles, this was the term generally used for a steward who supervised the management of an estate on behalf of the (generally absent) owner. The duties of an epitropos as well as the degree of independence in decision-making varied from case to case, but, as a rule, it was his duty to supervise the workforce, to purchase supplies required for the estate, to sell surplus agricultural produce, and to be accountable to the estate owner. For that reason, he ha…


(1,783 words)

Author(s): Osborne, Robin (Oxford) | Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] I. Greece No Greek term corresponds exactly to the English word farmer. The Greek word γεωργός ( geōrgós) described someone who cultivated the land, whether landowner, simultaneously proprietor and farmworker, or merely a farmworker (Xen. Oec. 5,4); it thus applied to rich and poor, citizen and non-citizen, slave or free man. The relatively unusual term αὐτουργός ( autourgós) meant someone who worked for himself or with his own hands, and was restricted to free men; although it means ‘men who have no leisure’ (Thuc. 1,141,3-5), it relat…

Agrarian structure

(2,540 words)

Author(s): Osborne, Robin (Oxford) | Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[1] Greece [German version] A. Introduction In the Linear B archives of the late Bronze Age a relatively detailed picture of land ownership and land use appears for the first time. This system was centrally supervised from the palaces. In Pylos, where the E-series clay tablets give comprehensive details, the land was divided into categories of which two can be reliably defined: ko-to-na ki-ti-me-na was farmed by private landowners or their tenants, ko-to-na ke-ke-me-na was common property and was mainly leased in small plots [3; 5]. Osborne, Robin (Oxford) [German version] B. Land dis…


(1,183 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Rathbone, Dominic (London)
[German version] I. Near East and Egypt Irrigation means the artificial provision of water to fields in order to enable or intensify plant growth. It supported cultivation in rain-fed regions (attested as early as the 5th millennium BC in western Iran), but its primary significance was in areas whose productivity depended entirely on it, their own rainfall never being sufficient, such as the Nile Valley and the middle and lower reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris. In irrigation, the entire surface to b…