The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire


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SELEUCID ECONOMY

Rappaport, U. Rostovtzeff, M. Salles, J. In: Kuhot, A. Schmitt, H. Schwartz, D. In: Mittmann-Richert, U. Geburtstag Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener , Seyrig, H. Sherwin-White, S. Tcherikover, V. Walbank, F. Will, Ed. The paper aims at throwing some light on the motives of Antiochos III, Seleukos IV, and Antiochos IV, who -as it is attested by the literary sources- ordered the plunder of temples in several regions of their Kingdom.

The despoliation of temples by the Seleukids is often connected, according to many modern historians, with the difficult economic conditions of the Empire after the treaty of Apamea with the Romans in Paris: Leroux. CAH Astin, A. EGO Ego, B.

MA Ma, J. In: SEG 31, Epiphanes: eine politische Biographie Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

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Par Abel, F. A significant increase in population is likely, from perhaps as little as half a million in the Achaemenid period to between one and one and a half million by the mid third century bc and perhaps even two million by the mid second century bc, before the loss of Kommagene.


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A considerable number of Hellenistic cities are referred to in the sources60 and known by their coins,61 while a settlement survey has shown dense occupation in the Hellenistic period. A population estimate for Kilikia can perhaps be made by analogy with northern Syria, which was substantially inferior in both agricultural area and density of settlements initially, but probably surpassed Kilikia later.

A figure of between a half and one million is likely. At its maximum extent, c. Western and southern districts and major Greek coastal cities were lost to and gained from the Attalids, Ptolemies or usurpers with the fortunes of war, until Antiochos III briefly recovered nearly the entire territory. Southern Kappadokia probably 59 60 61 62 Grainger estimates that nearly half a million new inhabitants moved into northern Syria a: Davies also regards the movement as substantial, but one which should not be exaggerated Millar goes further, suggesting that a transformation of the map took place Cohen — The principal royal mint was that at Tarsos, but mints also operated in some periods at Soloi, Mallos, Alexandria-Issos and Magarsos, as well as at Seleukeia-Kalykadnos in Kilikia Tracheia.

Such a scale of coining activity can, in part, be associated with the needs of a large population. Seton-Williams ; Alcock Geography and population 47 acknowledged direct Seleukid rule only to the mid third century bc,63 while parts of Armenia were subject to Seleukos I, and again later to Antiochos III until Magnesia, and, finally, for a few years to Antiochos IV. Smaller rivers exited into the Propontis and the southern Mediterranean coast.

These rivers constituted the chief factor in the economic development of the region, with the urban centres concentrated along their valleys and trade routes following their courses to central Anatolia, the Euphrates and beyond. A survey of the lower Maiandros flood plain67 points to rapid urbanization in the interior regions of the Maiandros and its tributaries, which continued through the third and second centuries bc, particularly as the trade route up this valley became the most important.

Greek cities were well established by the fourth century bc nearer the coast, but several new foundations were added inland during the Hellenistic period and a number of Karian centres developed polis structures. This does not necessarily indicate overall population increase, as many smaller communities seem to have simply been absorbed by their larger neighbours.

The resulting population figures are about 30, for Tralleis, 20,—23, each for Magnesia-Maiandros and Tabai, 10,—20, 63 64 65 68 Sherwin-White and Kuhrt Magie 34—52; Cohen See discussion and tables in Marchese — The total population of the survey region in the Roman Imperial period was estimated at , of which , was urban; the Hellenistic poleis represented about 53 per cent of the total, and native communities that were to acquire polis status later, the remainder.


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  4. However, if the figure adopted of persons per hectare is used for urban areas ch. For individual poleis they may have differed in the Hellenistic period, as cities expanded or contracted according to their political or economic fortunes. However, it is possible that the total population was not significantly lower. The two surveys summarized above cover areas of Asia Minor that come up quite frequently in the sources, but constitute only a small part of a very large region. The number of Hellenistic cities in all of western and southern Asia Minor is considerable, numbering at least The lower Maiandros basin was apparently heavily urbanized, with Hellenistic cities and their territories containing just over half the population see above.

    Other regions, particularly Lykia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lykaonia and parts of Phrygia show relatively fewer Hellenistic foundations,71 so probably had a greater proportion of native populations unattached to cities. Thus, the best estimate for the total population of western and southern Asia Minor in the Hellenistic period lies between three and four million inhabitants. For comparison, in , this region had an estimated population of not more than six million. Furthermore, 3. See Cohen for the Hellenistic settlements of the region — Older Greek or native cities that were not refounded in the Hellenistic period are not included.

    Geography and population 49 5. Starting at the northern end of the coastal strip, each major Phoenician city, Tripolis, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre, controlled a number of subordinate towns and villages and a territory that sometimes extended quite far inland. Of what was probably the largest city, Tyre, there is mention in Arrian Anab.

    PLUNDER OF TEMPLES BY SELEUKID KINGS | Krikona | JOURNAL OF ANCIENT HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY

    The territory of Joppa could supposedly muster 40, men in time of need Strabo All told, a population approaching half a million for the coastal strip seems reasonable. Progressing north in Palestine, new settlements appeared in Idumaia in the Hellenistic period, influenced by the development of trade through Gaza, while Marisa grew into an important centre. Allowing for some male adult non-combatants, the total population of Judaea has been estimated at not less than , in an area of some 2, square kilometres, of which only about two-thirds is cultivable, which would indicate a relatively high population density and explain the Diaspora and the Hasmonean expansion as some form of release.

    Jerusalem itself, despite its prominence in literary sources, must have been rather small and poor, located off the main coastal and inland trade routes. Avi-Yonah estimates 40, inhabitants for Hellenistic Tyre Berlin 6—8. This would require , prisoners. Presumably Nikanor had a fair idea of the total population head taxes having been applied in Judaea in this period and could make allowances for those who would be killed or would escape.

    So a maximum figure of a quarter of a million for Judaea does not appear unreasonable. Samaria shows evidence of colonization and some population growth in the early Hellenistic period, as witnessed by the establishment of the Macedonian colony of Samaria. In the western part, the 1, or more field towers of the Seleukid period identified in site surveys have been associated mainly with wine production, but also storage generally, perhaps one tower to a military settler family.

    These field towers, the numerous oilpress installations and the well-developed rural road system have been taken as indications of a flourishing market economy for wine and olives down to Hasmonean times, when there is some evidence of abandonment of settlements. Applebaum ; Dar —53; Berlin 10— Meyers, Strange and Groh 8; Alcock Freyne —38; Berlin 12—4. Arav records only somewhat more than Hellenistic sites that have been surveyed in this area, with cities tending to be small, as measured by fortification perimeters, e.

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    Samaria 2. Broshi considers that a peak population of about one million was reached in Palestine only by c. Geography and population 51 For comparison, an Ottoman census of —8 for Palestine showed , inhabitants, including the coastal districts, but excluding those east of the Jordan. This had risen to , by — This ancient city had probably served as the Achaemenid satrapal centre, but in the third century bc lay too near the contested border dividing Ptolemaic Koile Syria from Seleukid northern Syria and its economic importance may have been somewhat reduced.

    For southern Syria, a population not exceeding half a million seems reasonable, which would give a total of one to one and a half million for all of Koile Syria. What has been attempted above using settlement surveys and some literary sources is probably open to much disagreement.

    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire

    However, when assessing an economy, a population estimate is a necessary step and an approximate figure better than none. If population can now be approached in an independent way and the results turn out to be similar, there will be more confidence in them.

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    Achaemenid tribute A possible source for comparative populations in the Seleukid empire is the tribute list for the Achaemenid empire given by Herodotos 3. The tribute assessment no doubt took into account, in a general way, the productivity of the land, its natural resources and the extent of industry and trade, but all these factors lead in the end to a certain size of population that could be supported. Population is also essentially proportional to the area and supporting capacity of the land. Thus, Strabo can be taken to imply that tribute is proportional to population.

    I will assume then that the Achaemenid tribute was roughly proportional to population and use the tribute given by Herodotos for each of the twenty nomes 3. If these are excluded, the total tribute from western and southern Asia Minor probably amounted to about 1, talents. Nome IV contained only Kilikia and was assessed for talents, of which Darius received only as tribute.

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    Kilikia has a considerable area and this nome may also have comprised Kommagene. In the Achaemenid period northern Syria was apparently little developed in comparison to what it later became when the major Seleukid cities were founded there section 3 above. For this reason, the greater part of the tribute from this nome is assumed to have come from the Phoenician cities, Damascus and Palestine, so perhaps talents from Koile Syria and only 50 from northern Syria.

    The problem is how to deal with the other item of royal revenue mentioned by Herodotos 2. No doubt the Persian king acquired revenue from his properties in all satrapies in addition to tribute, as will be seen for the Seleukids in 86 89 87 Andreades Stolper 52—3. How and Wells Geography and population 53 chapter 8.

    Mesopotamia, excluding Susiane, is represented by nome IX and yielded 1, talents. Nome X, containing Media, was subject to talents, but this included Media Atropatene, an important region, which was never Seleukid, so perhaps talents for the remainder. Nome XI is associated with the Kaspians and other tribes and contributed talents in tribute.

    Perhaps this region covered the southern shores of the Caspian Sea and may have included Hyrkania, although it is curious that the Hyrkanians are not specifically mentioned here by Herodotos, but nor are they mentioned anywhere else in the tribute list. With a rather large assessment of talents, this nome may have comprised most of Persis probably apart from a tribute-free core , Karmania and Drangiane along with parts of Oman and the islands of the Gulf, which, if excluded, could bring the tribute down to perhaps talents.

    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire
    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire
    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire
    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire
    The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire

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