Ships and Silver, Taxes and Tribute A Fiscal History of Archaic Athens

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-11-26
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris

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Historians since Herodotus and Thucydides have claimed that the year 483 BCE marked a turning point in the history of Athens. For it was then that Themistocles mobilized the revenues from the city's highly productive silver mines to build an enormous war fleet. This income stream is thought to have become the basis of Athenian imperial power, the driving force behind its democracy and the centre of its system of public finance. But in his groundbreaking new book, Hans van Wees argues otherwise. He shows that Themistocles did not transform Athens, but merely expanded a navy-centered system of public finance that had already existed at least a generation before the general's own time, and had important precursors at least a century earlier. The author reconstructs the scattered evidence for all aspects of public finance, in archaic Greece at large and early Athens in particular, to reveal that a complex machinery of public funding and spending was in place as early as the reforms of Solon in 594 BCE. Public finance was in fact a key factor in the rise of the early Athenian state – long before Themistocles, the empire and democracy.

Author Biography

Hans van Wees is Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London, UK. His books include Greek Warfare: Myth and Realities, The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare: vol 1, The Hellenistic World and the Rise of Rome (edited with Philip Sabin and Michael Whitby), War and Violence in Archaic Greece and A Companion to Archaic Greece (edited with Kurt A Raaflaub).

Table of Contents

1. A Fiscal History of Athens: Why and How?
2. Athens in Context: Public Finance in Archaic Greece
3. Ham-Collectors and Other Financial Institutions
4. Ships, Soldiers and Sacrifices: Public Spending
5. Taxes, Tolls and Tribute: Public Revenue
6. From Oxen to Silver to Coins: Media of Public Finance
7. Conclusion: Public Finance and the State in Archaic Athens
Appendix: Persian Naval Expansion and the Ionian Cities

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