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City and Empire in the Age of the SuccessorsUrbanization and Social Response in the Making of the Hellenistic Kingdoms$
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Ryan Boehm

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520296923

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520296923.001.0001

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Urbanization and Economic Networks

Urbanization and Economic Networks

(p.89) 2 Urbanization and Economic Networks
City and Empire in the Age of the Successors

Ryan Boehm

University of California Press

This chapter addresses the profound economic consequences of creating new polities by merging cities, elites, and fiscal regimes into new urban centers. It argues that the Hellenistic polis functioned as a core economic node in the vast patchwork of the fiscal regimes of the Hellenistic kingdoms, shifting from the primarily village-and palace-based system of Persian rule. The chapter focuses on several interconnected spheres: the effects of urbanization on the civic economy (i.e., the polis itself and its fiscal regime), the issue of land tenure and the relationship between civic territory and royal land, and the concomitant creation of regional leagues and wider networks of exchange. The chapter considers the vexing issue of monetization and the extent to which urbanization can serve as a proxy for economic growth, relating this study to questions about premodern economies and the economic effects of empires that are important questions in other fields. Drawing on recent approaches of economic historians (in particular, the new institutional economics and more apolitical models of Mediterranean connectivity), it examines how the heavy reliance on urbanization reveals a more explicitly economic basis for Hellenistic state building than is often assumed.

Keywords:   civic economy, royal economy, infrastructure, coinage, land, koinon, trade networks, proxies

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