Procrastinating on March 27, 2017

Should-Read: Pseudoerasmus: Economic Growth in Ancient Greece: "The causes of [Ancient] Greek economic growth may have been 'ordinary'...

...but certainly their effects somehow were not. Ober is quite right that the peculiarly egalitarian institutions of the ancient Greeks cry out for an explanation. Here’s a possible scenario. The collapse of Mycenaean civilisation in the 12th century BCE allowed a “reset” on Greek political evolution, a kind of institutional creative destruction. In the absence of the Late Bronze Age collapse, some Peloponnesian city-state like Mykenae itself or a mainland state like Thebes might have consolidated a circum-Aegean state 800-900 years earlier than Athens would attempt or Makedon would ultimately accomplish. This “reset” prevented the creation of a centralised state in the Aegean for almost a millennium.

The population recovery from the Dark Ages was accompanied by land tenure based on small holdings, as we would normally expect in the course of proto-political development with village cultures. This led to the relatively egalitarian city-states of citizen-farmers when Greek poleis started emerging from obscurity again in the 9th century. Hence, Ober’s “rule egalitarnianism”. An effect, not a cause, of economic growth.