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Title: Social changes in Sparta and Laconia during the Hellenistic period: the contribution of archaeological survey data
Authors: Shipley, D. Graham J.
First Published: 2002
Publisher: Society for Peloponnesian Studies
Abstract: This paper considers socio-political changes at Sparta in the light of data from the Laconia Survey, carried out in an area immediately north and east of Sparta. The survey identified peaks of rural site numbers in the late archaic and early classical periods and again from the hellenistic to the early Roman period, with a low point in the late fifth and fourth centuries. This contrasts with other regions of Greece, where the late classical period is usually the time of maximum site numbers. We may explain these peculiarities in terms of the distinctive social character of Sparta, where the rise of inequalities of land-holding may have taken a different course. Spartan society may not have placed the same emphasis as other city-states on the political primacy of free citizen smallholders. / The mid- to late classical fall in site numbers in the survey area, much of which is not first-grade land, seems unlikely to be due to the creation of large elite farmsteads in this area. The disappearance of the existing small farms was perhaps due rather to their failure in economic terms. The subsequent revival around 300 BC (too early to be attributed to Agis IV and Cleomenes III) may indicate the emergence of a class of dependent labouring families, perhaps demoted Spartiates who were assisted by wealthy patrons in reopening the land. Both the late classical collapse and the early hellenistic revival can be explained by the ambition of elite Spartans, but indirectly; large elite estates were probably developing in other, more fertile areas of Laconia. / Elsewhere in Greece, the disappearance of small freeholders in the middle hellenistic period was probably not a radically new phenomenon but the culmination of a long process, which had been held in check by periodic curbs upon elite ambitions. At Sparta, dependency relationships between members of the free population may have emerged in an acute form earlier than elsewhere.
Type: Book chapter
Description: Shipley, G., 2001-2002. Social changes in Sparta and Laconia during the Hellenistic period: the contribution of archaeological survey data [in Greek]. In "Proceedings of the 6th International Congress of Peloponnesian Studies", (Athens: Society for Peloponnesian Studies), ii., pp. 433-445.
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Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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