L’economia babilonese nel sesto secolo a.C.: crescita economica in contesto imperiale
N. 2, APRILE-GIUGNO
The Babylonian economy in the sixth century BC: economic growth in an imperial context
After overviewing previous studies on Ancient Mesopotamian economic history and
their methodology, this paper surveys the principal characteristics of the Babylonian economy in the «long sixth century» between the fall of the Assyrian empire (612 BC) and the Babylonian revolts against the Persian king Xerxes in 484 BC. These phenomena – in particular demographic growth, the intensification of agricultural production and an increasing monetization and market-orientation of economic exchange – are cast into the mould of an explanatory model that sees a conjuncture of several independent demographic, social, economic and political factors (Babylonian imperial domination over much of the Middle East) which led to a period of «Smithian » growth. The growing prosperity of Babylonia in this period is reflected in price and wage data and in the material culture and consumption patterns. The structural factors described in the paper distinguish the economy of the Babylonian Iron Age in fundamental ways from its Bronze Age precursors and establish a strong link of continuity with Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean economies.