Arable Cultivation in Roman Italy

Arable Cultivation in Roman Italy

English | 1986 | ISBN: 0907764061 | 159 Pages | PDF | 43.1 MB

Roman Agriculture describes the farming practices of ancient Rome, an era that lasted 1000 years. From humble beginnings, the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 27 BCE) and empire (27 BCE to 476 CE) expanded to rule much of Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East and thus comprised a large number of agricultural environments of which the Mediterranean climate of dry, hot summers and cool, rainy winters was the most common. Within the Mediterranean area, a triad of crops was most important: grains, olives, and grapes.

The great majority of the people ruled by Rome were engaged in agriculture. From a beginning of small, largely self-sufficient landowners, rural society became dominated by latifundium, large estates owned by the wealthy and utilizing mostly slave labor. The growth in the urban population, especially of the city of Rome, required the development of commercial markets and long-distance trade in agricultural products, especially grain, to supply the people in the cities with food.

Roman farming relied on hand tools and the extensive use of labor, little different from farming in earlier Mediterranean societies. However, Roman aristocrats put great emphasis on managing their estates efficiently to maximize agricultural yields and profits through crop selection and rotation, frequent plowing of land, and the use of manure to create and preserve soil fertility.

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