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Feeding the DemocracyThe Athenian Grain Supply in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BC$
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Alfonso Moreno

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228409.001.0001

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From Crisis to Uncertainty: Calculating Athenian Grain Production

From Crisis to Uncertainty: Calculating Athenian Grain Production

(p.3) 1 From Crisis to Uncertainty: Calculating Athenian Grain Production
Feeding the Democracy

Alfonso Moreno (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter attempts to calculate the grain production and carrying capacity of Attica by analyzing five key variables: land, use of the land, crop yields, population, and consumption. Previous scholarly attempts to calculate these variables are surveyed. As part of the study of land, soil and climate are examined, as well as the extent of arable space, taking into account the use of terracing. As part of the study of land use, the conventional and revised models of Greek farming are compared. The results confirm the continuing usefulness of the former, which would indicate that half of the cultivable land of Attica required fallowing each year, and that natural fertilizers were insufficiently available to overcome this need or to escape relatively low yields. It is argued that the figures of imported grain transmitted by Demosthenes are reliable, and that recent attempts to demonstrate the opposite are unsatisfactory.

Keywords:   grain production, carrying capacity, arable land, yield, population, food consumption, land use, soil, agriculture, fertilizers

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