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Unformatted text preview: Land Ownership Most wealthy Romans kept a villa or farm estate outside of town In fact, the patrician class was defined by land ownership Land was the most reliable form of capital Most people worked the land, but for patricians, the land worked for them Most great estates used sharecroppers rather than slave labor Small farmers generally held only 2 5 acres of land Large landowners could intimidate poorer neighbors into sharecropping with hostile takeovers Farming 75% of ancient Romans worked in agriculture Farming was labor intensive with crops picked by hand One Roman farmer fed 2 3 people at most Agriculture was the primary business of the Roman empire and of most societies until the 19 th century Romans had axes, spades, saws, shears, scythes, forks, and vine-dresser knives to work the land Oxen pulled ploughs, as the Romans never thought of horses as farm animals and never developed an appropriate harness for them Estate management was a necessary evil Since free men were exempt from torture, stewards were always slaves, so that they might be tortured, a deterrent to embezzlement Stewards kept accounts of business, generally member of slave class (in order to torture them for embezzlement since Roman citizens cant be tortured) An overseer was in daily charge of the laborers...
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- Spring '08