Mind-Blowing Ancient Greece Economy Facts For Kids

Sridevi Tolety
Jan 27, 2023 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Nov 29, 2021
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Literature and theater were essential parts of Greek culture

The term ancient or archaic Greece denotes the years 700-480 BC but not the Classical Age (480-323 BC).

Mainland Greece covers about 80% of the whole territory and is mainly mountainous. Ancient Greece was situated by the Mediterranean Sea or the Black Sea towards the south, the Ionian Sea to its west, and the Aegean Sea in the east.

Greece is a magical land with a series of islands or archipelagos and wide peninsulas. Its islands and peninsulas are surrounded by mountains, making travel by land an arduous task. The Pindus range is the largest mountain range in Greece.

Dinaric Alps can be seen towards the south of the Greek mainland, which separates Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly. 'The Ancient Economy', by Moses Finley (1973, revised edition 1999), has been the starting point for academic discussions of the Greek and Roman economy and history since the early period.

Greek people made significant contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.

Literature and theater were essential parts of Greek culture and have also influenced modern drama. The culture is noted for its government, art, architecture, philosophy, and sports, which became examples for modern western society in world history.

An interesting fact about Athens is that marathons originated here. Another fact is that of about one-third of ancient Greeks, Athens were slaves. Juries were huge, and they worshipped gods and goddesses. It was believed that 12 of the gods and goddesses lived on Mount Olympus. Greeks called themselves 'Hellenes.'

Continue reading to know more about trades, taxes, the culture, and more. Do check out our other articles on ancient Greek clothing facts and ancient Greek culture facts here on Kidadl.

What did ancient Greece trade?

The ancient Greek economy had many influences on trade. Taxation in ancient Greece functioned differently from the modern idea of taxation among the general population. Shopping and trading were also essential pieces of the ancient economy.

The economy of ancient Greece was defined mainly by the land's dependence on goods that were imported. In Greek history, the most famous imports back then were salt fish, food, raw materials, wheat, papyrus, wood, glass, tin, copper, and silver. In addition to trading with these products, Greeks also used currency.

Ancient Greeks were known to be the original economists. Ancient Greeks mainly exported pottery, olive oil, olives, wine, and metal work.

Most commonly, pork and grains were imported from places such as Egypt and Sicily. In Greek city-states, artisans and peasants sold their crafts, but some merchants were divided into guilds. Olive oil, fish, and vegetables were sold by guilds, and women would sell ribbons and perfumes.

Was ancient Greece a market economy?

The economy of Greece was based on trade. The marketplace, called the agora, was the center of daily life. In ancient Greece, educated, free-born citizens would gather in agoras for military duty and hear rulings of kings or councils.

People would work in the agora, meet friends and trade goods, and exchange business ideas. Back at the beginning of Greek trade, people exchanged services and goods by bartering.

Merchants had a different role. For their place in an agora, merchants had to pay a fee and were looked down upon by the general public.

Sea routes made trades possible to different ports all over the world. Due to its prime location and control of key trading routes and leadership in wars against Persia, its market economy flourished and made ancient Greece successful.

Trading stations were established, which played a very important role in the exchange of goods. Greek goods like pottery, wine, olive oil, and textiles were exchanged for luxury items.

Who did ancient Greece trade with?

Athenian society consisted of four main social classes. First was the upper class, followed by the metics or middle class, then the lower class or freedmen, and finally, the slave class.

The upper class, who were considered citizens of Athens, consisted of those born to Athenian parents. These were the rich and powerful people of Athenian society, holding all the political and militaristic power as per world history.

Ancient trades began about 4,600 years ago. Precious goods like ivory, gold, copper, and pottery were traded. These were traded through extensive networks which existed between the Greek mainland, Asia Minor, Egypt, and other countries such as the Cyclades, Cyprus, and Crete. Trade declined drastically as these civilizations disappeared.

In the ancient world, international trade in the Mediterranean was taken care of by the Phoenicians. Archaic Greece history is roughly divided into the Mycenaean age, Dark Ages, the Archaic period, and the Classical period. Greece's timeline was thought to be 8000 BCE to the end of the Mycenaean civilization. Lefkandi was considered to be 1000 BCE-900 BCE.

Athenian society consisted of four main social classes

How did ancient Greece trade?

History mentions that there grew to be Greek states numbering more than 1,000. The main cities were Erétria, Athína (Athens), Elis, Spárti (Sparta), Árgos, Kórinthos (Corinth), Thíva (Thebes), Ródos (Rhodes), Siracusa (Syracuse), and Égina (Aegina).

Each Greek city-state ruled itself. They were free-born citizens in world history.

Ancient Greece economics was mainly a definition of the region's dependence on imported goods. The majority of this population lived in the city, as it was the center of trade, commerce, culture, and political activity.

Other traders would purchase certain goods at one port and then go off to another port and sell it there, and thus they could make a little profit from this. Before 600 BC, there was no monetary system in Greece; hence, the people utilized the barter system.

This was a system meant for trading goods and services for other goods and services available in markets. By 500 BC, each city-state began minting its own coins.

From 600 BCE, trade developed due to specialized merchant ships and a new trackway called diolkas that was developed through the isthmus of Corinthdiolkos. At some unique trading places, merchants from different nations met to trade.

Al Mina at the Orontes river, Gravisca in Etruria, Naucratis in Egypt, and Ischia-Pithekoussai were some of those spots. From the 5th century BCE, the Piraeus port became the most famous trading center of the Mediterranean as one could easily find any goods in this market.

Some of the sources of revenue are explained in detail below.

There was very little direct taxation in Ancient Greece city-states. The Eisphorá tax was the tax for the rich but was collected only as needed. The huge amount of taxes that were collected went to support public works. Indirect taxation was well developed, though not in many cities. Houses, slaves, flocks, and herds were all subject to taxation.

Ancient Greece’s soil was of poor quality. Therefore, the soil wasn't good enough to develop many crops.

Hence, a lot of Greek forces were required in the field of agriculture. The agricultural part of the economy is especially impressive. In most land, olive trees, grapevines, and other oil-producing plants were grown, but Greeks focused on colonialism to ensure a smooth supply of surplus goods, plants, and precious metals.

Agricultural trade needed more labor force and marketplaces for trade and the growth of their economy. These were the only source of income for them.

Drachmae means a handful of money. One Drachma was divided into six spits, and six spits made a handful.

Before coins came into existence in Greece, spits were used as measures in daily transactions. The Greek drachma was the currency of Greece before it was replaced by the euro in 2001.

It was also the ancient wealth of the Greek empire and states. These Greek coins made of silver were first used in Aegina c. 600 BCE. Much of the craftsmanship of ancient Greeks were from the southwest part of the country.

This eventually changed between the 8th and 4th centuries BC due to the increasing commercialization of the economy. A current economic problem is that rising pension costs have to be paid for by a shrinking labor force.

Pottery was of great importance back then. Greeks acquired the majority of their revenues through it. Pottery was used mainly in households for things like dishes, containers, and oil lamps.

Pottery was sometimes used for commercial purposes; what remained was taken to religious or artistic functions. Working with clay has been known for a long time now; it has existed since the Bronze Age. One of the phenomenal inventions considered back then was the potter's wheel.

The shopping destination in ancient Greece was called the agora, which means 'gathering place' or 'assembly.' The agora was the center for everything that you can name. Athletic, artistic, spiritual, and political gatherings were held at agoras.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient Greece economy, then why not take a look at ancient Greek food facts or ancient Greek temples facts.

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Shruti Thapa picture

Shruti ThapaBachelor of Arts specializing in English

With a passion for American, British, and children's literature, Shruti is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at Garden City University, Bengaluru. Her fluency in Nepali, Hindi, and Mandarin demonstrates her linguistic abilities and global perspective. In addition to her literary pursuits, she has a keen interest in non-fiction literature, aesthetics, early childhood education, and Egyptian history. Shruti's research paper 'Bringing Art Illustrations In Education And Pop Culture' showcases her proficiency in these areas and her dedication to academic excellence.

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