Economics, Institutions, and State-Formation in Archaic Greece: Property, Exchange, Legal Order, and the Development of the Polis


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project sets out to understand the development of the polis or city-state, arguably the most important phenomenon in Archaic Greek history, by examining the emergence of the formal institutions that governed economic activities within this new form of associative life. The centrality of concerns about property and contracts in inscribed legal texts of the Archaic period are highlighted, and it is argued that the early focus of emerging states on these issues points to their very development in response to the economic needs of a quickly growing population. The origin of these laws in the resolution of specific local disputes points toward the polis as a state formed from the bottom up, resulting in the local sophistication and extreme political fragmentation so characteristic of Classical Greece.