This chapter examines the history of state formation in ancient Greece during the Bronze Age, providing an overview of the nature of the Minoan states and the extent of control exercised by Mycenaean states. It describes the key features of the states in the Mycenaean period, which include state structure and organization, palatial centers, military organization, economic organization and administration, and systems of communication and representation.
David M. Lewis
Twentieth-century scholarship, guided in particular by the views of M. I. Finley, saw Greece and Rome as the only true ‘slave societies’ of antiquity: slavery in the Near East was of minor economic significance. Finley also believed that the lack of a concept of ‘freedom’ in the Near East made slavery difficult to distinguish from other shades of ‘unfreedom’. This chapter shows that in the Near East the legal status of slaves and the ability to make clear status distinctions were substantively similar to the Greco-Roman situation. Through a survey of the economic contribution of slave labour to the wealth and position of elites in Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Carthage, it is shown that the difference between the ‘classical’ and ‘non-classical’ worlds was not as pronounced as Finley thought, and that at least some of these societies (certainly Carthage) should also be considered ‘slave societies’.
Mogens Herman Hansen
This chapter examines the history of city-states of polis in ancient Greece. It explains that a polis was a strongly institutionalized and centralized micro-state consisting of one city and its immediate hinterland, and that it had an advanced degree of urbanization whereby the majority of the population lived in the urban center. Aside from being the center of habitation, it was also the center of industry and trade, education and entertainment, political institutions, and defense. The chapter furthermore considers the relation between the poleis.
This chapter examines the history of the koinon, a form of regional state in ancient Greece comprised of multiple poleis and in some instances other forms of community, and characterized by the division of sovereignty among the regional government and its constituent communities. It explains that the koinon was a remarkably widespread phenomenon and that almost of mainland Greece and the Peloponnese became part of a koinon. The chapter suggests that the koinon arose amidst a world of poleis against a background of strong group identities and that its nature was profoundly altered in the process of the Roman conquest of Greece in the second century.
This chapter, which explores the history of multi-city states in ancient Greece during the archaic and classical periods, explains that leaders of small city-states were forced to attempt to establish multi-city states because of increasing competition for scarce resources in an age of expanding population and pressures from neighboring cities. It analyzes why these attempts failed, arguing that it is more fruitful to consider state formation as an ongoing process of structural change than as a one-time event.
This chapter, which explores the history of state formation in ancient Greece during the Hellenistic period, describes state power during this period and discusses the narrative, genealogy, and structure of the Hellenistic state. It explains the concepts of basileia and basilikon, and argues that the importance of the Hellenistic empires in the history of the ancient state is linked to several factors. These include the reemergence of a neo-near eastern landscape of kingly polities and the integration of the Greek world of the cities within this world.
This chapter describes the effects of warfare in the Hellenistic period, which influenced nearly every aspect of life for people living in the Greek East at the time. The phalanx remained the basic unit of the Hellenistic army. The Hellenistic world saw a proliferation of technical manuals concerning the art of war. The composition of armies included infantry, cavalry, auxiliary forces, siege warfare, and navies. The Macedonian cavalry was the main striking arm of the combined force. Cavalry in the Hellenistic world were organized largely as in Alexander's day. Hellenistic siege warfare featured its share of exotic weapons. It is shown that the sea became a venue for battle. There was a marked shift in the composition of both navies and armies during the Hellenistic period.
This article surveys taxation in the Hellenistic kingdoms of Asia Minor in the Near East, focusing on the Seleukid Empire and the Attalids of Pergamon. It argues that the study of Hellenistic systems and habits of taxation can tell us much about the distribution of sovereignty in these composite, multiscalar kingdoms. The negotiation of fiscal rights and privileges in these kingdoms drew cities, kings, courtiers, priests, and soldiers into frequent, even ritualized interactions. The article discusses taxation’s role in the competition over territory and resources, both interstate and internal, while also highlighting the role of taxation in the articulation of each state’s sovereignty claims on communities and individuals. Key sources are reviewed, both epigraphic and archaeological, including cuneiform documents from Hellenistic Babylonia and Greek inscriptions from Asia Minor (Anatolia) and Coele-Syria (Levant).
Nicholas V. Sekunda
This chapter explains Greek warfare and society. The concept of the soldier-citizen was an important component in the Greek city-state or polis. The large-scale wars that took place throughout the Greek world from the death of Alexander until the battle of Corupedium in 281 deprived many of Greek city-states, whic had chronic problems with finances. The Greeks employed a bewildering range of words for payments in kind or cash. The mercenaries were vital in the Hellenistic period. If a city fell after a siege, the impacts on trade and prices were mostly local. The drastic human losses could have important social, political, and demographic effects. It is impossible to quantify the number of persons uprooted by war in the Greek world, but they must have been considerable.