What Was Economy Like in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is widely considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization. The Greeks made significant contributions to art, science, philosophy, politics, and many other fields.

However, one of the most important aspects of their society was their economy. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the economy was like in ancient Greece.

The Basics of Ancient Greek Economy

The ancient Greek economy was based on agriculture and trade. Most Greeks were farmers who grew crops such as wheat, barley, olives, and grapes.

These crops were used for food or turned into products such as wine and olive oil. Some Greeks also raised livestock such as sheep and goats.

Trade was also important to the ancient Greek economy. They traded with other civilizations such as Egypt and Persia for goods like spices, fabrics, and precious metals. The Greeks also traded with each other at local markets called agora.

The Role of Slavery in Ancient Greece

Slavery played a significant role in the ancient Greek economy. Many slaves were captured during wars and used for labor on farms or in households. They did not receive any pay for their work but were provided with food and shelter by their owners.

Slaves were not just used for menial labor but also skilled jobs such as pottery-making or metalworking. Some slaves could even earn their freedom if they saved enough money.

The Use of Coins

The ancient Greeks were some of the first people to use coins as currency instead of bartering goods. Coins were made from precious metals such as gold or silver and had different values depending on their size and weight.

Coins made trade easier because they could be exchanged for goods without having to carry around heavy items like livestock or grains.

Athens vs Sparta: Different Approaches to Economy

Although both Athens and Sparta were part of ancient Greece, they had different approaches to their economy.

Athens was a democracy and placed a high value on trade and commerce. They had a large navy and used it to protect their trade routes. Athens was known for its great thinkers like Socrates and Aristotle who encouraged free thought and innovation.

Sparta, on the other hand, was an oligarchy that focused on military strength. Their economy was based on agriculture with no emphasis on trade or commerce. The Spartans were known for their disciplined soldiers who were trained from a young age to be warriors.

The Legacy of Ancient Greek Economy

The ancient Greek economy laid the foundation for modern economic systems. They were some of the first people to use coins as currency, which is still used today. The Greeks also made significant contributions to fields like mathematics and philosophy that have influenced modern economic theory.

In conclusion, the ancient Greek economy was based on agriculture and trade with slavery playing a significant role. Athens and Sparta had different approaches to their economy with Athens focusing on trade and commerce while Sparta focused on military strength. The legacy of ancient Greece can still be seen in our modern economic systems today.