The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Ancient Greece, The Economy of

  • Paul Cartledge
Reference work entry


There were many ‘economies’ rather than a single ‘economy’ in ancient Greece (a culturally interlinked world, c. 800–300 BCE, stretching across the Mediterranean basin and around the Black Sea). Except in Athens, agriculture (cereals, olives, grapevines, and the raising of small-stock animals – sheep, goats, pigs) predominated over trade and industry as an economic driver. The Greeks did not invent coinage but spread it and embedded it, and although they were thoroughly familiar with the idea of markets and market prices, they did not develop a market economy.


Ancient economy Oikos ‘Primitivists’, ‘modernists’ Finley, Moses Athens Sparta ‘Proxy data’ Mediterranean triad Agriculture Grain Olive oil Wine Trade, local, regional and inter-regional Manufacture Technology Slavery Money, coined and non-coin Markets 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Cartledge
    • 1
  1. 1.