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Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World$
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Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, and Arjan Zuiderhoek

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728924.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2021

The Nature of the Villa Economy

The Nature of the Villa Economy

(p.172) (p.173) 10 The Nature of the Villa Economy
Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World

Alessandro Launaro

Oxford University Press

Since 200 BC Roman Italy had witnessed the spread of a social–economic system based on agriculture and centred on villa estates. This process was made possible by new political and social conditions developing both in Italy and across the empire, and was in turn characterized by a huge increase in land investment and surplus production. Even though traditionally understood as driven by a profit-seeking, greedy aristocracy acting at the expenses of a defenceless, backward peasantry, such a polarized interpretation does not hold up against an extensive body of archaeological and textual evidence. On the contrary, it seems more likely that all these forces had been largely integrated into this new social–economic system, something which resulted in both increased output levels (aggregate growth) and some moderate increase in overall productivity (real growth). This situation benefited Italian society at all levels and was bound to the prominent role Italy played within a subjugated Mediterranean.

Keywords:   Roman Italy, Roman villa, free peasantry, slavery, agriculture, status, landownership, tenancy, economic growth

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