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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 can’t be tortured) • An overseer was in daily charge of the laborers •...
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- Spring '08
- Ancient Rome, Olive oil, 19th century Romans, common sweetener Romans