The economic structures of the Hellenic world underwent major changes during the three centuries of the Archaic period (800-ca.480 BC). By the end of this period the Greek peoples inhabit an area extending from Near East to the furthermost coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and exploit natural sources using more and more specialized methods. That way, they were now able to satisfy their needs, increase gradually in number and produce a considerable surplus of goods.
Although it is possible to determine the general character and pace of this development, it is difficult to locate precisely the causes that led to it.

An important reason for this is the lack of written sources, contemporary with the events. Hesiod's work "Works and Days", any of Theognis' writings that have survived, as well as those by Herodotus -which refer to the end of the Archaic period- are the only sources of that period that can be used.
Homer, who describes periods prior to the Archaic, as well as more recent writers, such as Aristotle, Thucydides and all those who comprise in their works information about economic matters, must be studied very carefully.

However, it is possible to isolate and study certain elements that determine the economic character of Archaic Greek communities. Basically, it is ownership and land cultivation that constitute the main prerequisites in order to gain power. Property that was based on agriculture was of a primordial importance for the political as well as for the social status of a Greek citizen. Landowning and political-economic independence of an oikos or a family were always interrelated in the life of the Greeks and this relation does not appear for the first time in the Archaic period (Aristotle, Politics 1266b14-1266b24).

In order to explain economic expansion beyond the Greek mainland during that period, this has been associated with the emergence of urban centres and the development of cities, as well as with the concentration of political power in the hands of the tyrants since the 6th century BC onwards.
The process of economic development of Greek societies has also been associated with the colonization movement, the development of trade and towards the end of the Archaic times with the appearance of coinage.

| introduction | agriculture | trade | state organization | Archaic Period

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