According to the Ancient Greek Economy did mean the same thing as it does to us. According to the economy means the rules of the household.Now if we go way back to the ancient Greek jobs during the Stone Age, the Greeks were mostly sailors who would sail all through the Mediterranean Sea, just like the rest of the sailors of their time, say for example the Vikings and so on.

Ancient Greek Economy

Ancient Greek Economy

Now the Greeks had managed to find out different ways by which they could come up with a living for themselves from their sailing exploits. There were some who were the usual fishermen and they would eat some of the fish themselves and they would also sell quite a bit of it to the markets.

Ancient Athens Economy and Trade

There were other who was traders who would purchase certain goods at one port and then go off to another and sell it in another and thus they could make a little profit from this.

Ancient Greek Economy

Ancient Greek Job

Now another ancient Greek job was that of a soldier. They would become soldiers of one city-state and that state would try and conquer the other states and hence they were forced to pay tributes. You also had a lot of sailors who were mercenaries who hired their ships as well as themselves in order to fight in wars for other counters say, for example, Egypt.

Ancient Greek Economy

The rest of the Greeks were basically like pirates who raided other ships and took everything. Now, apart from these, there were also certain ancient Greek jobs for those who were settled on the land.

This included farmers, blacksmith, Shepards, statesmen and even warriors. Now, apart from these, there were certain other jobs too which were for the skilled people like teachers, players, musicians and so on.

Now, these ancient Greek jobs which we talked about are mostly held by the men. The women were the ones who would stay at home and would make the home and they would look after the children or make the meal or even weave at the time.


Although Ancient Greece are famous for its urban culture like that of Athens but food and agriculture were extremely important for any ancient civilization.

if we look at the quote by Socates it makes the importance of agricultre clear: ” Nobody is qualified to become a statesman who is entirely ignorant about the problem of wheat”.

Greece had only only about 20 per cent land which were suitable for agriculture with most lands being mountainous and quite hard. The Mediterranean weather was another factor hindering agricultural prosperity. Dry and hot summers along with sudden spells of heavy erratic rains seldom caused famines and scarcity in the food supply.

To adapt to this problem they planted crops requiring less water like wheat, barley olive trees, and grapes.Olive oil and grape wine was specialized products of Ancient Greece.

Animal husbandry also came up in certain areas with animals like pigs, sheep, and goats which provided them extra income to compensate for the agricultural difficulties. Bees were also used for making honey, the only known source of sugar for the ancient Greeks. People along the coasts of Aegean and Ionia also engaged themselves in fishing.

The Capture of colonies by powerful states like Athens in Asia minor was also motivated by controlling the supply of wheat.


The ancient Greek craft workers were very skilled in their work and specialized in tools and products made out of wood, clay, bone, and metal. The difficulty in farming and the hardiness of the soil led to many innovations. Iron farming tools created by craftsmen helped the Greeks to farm much more efficiently and as a result, sustain as well as grow their population.

Craft working was mostly a domestic affair with workers working in their homes for their craft but it began to change gradually with increasing commercialization in the Greek economy.

Activities like weaving and baking, which produced their fine woolen clothing, were extremely important for the economy and were done by women until the 6th century BC and then by the slaves. With increasing, commercialization slaves began to be employed more in this sector.

A very wealthy class of workshop owners grew, especially tannery owners like Cleon and Anytus and kleophon owning an Iyres producing factory.

Ancient Greek clay pottery was another feature of ancient crafts. They produced exquisite designs on pottery and foreign influences are also seen in them. The Corinthian black figure-styled pottery is a really brilliant piece of craftsmanship.

Slave Economy of Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greek economy remained dependent on the extraction of labor from the slaves. They were employed daily in household work, in the agricultural field, in mines, etc. According to Aristotle slavery was essential for the well being and balance in society. For example, in Sparta, all free men were soldiers, and farming was done by slaves or helots.

These slaves were mainly born into slavery or captured in wars. They did not enjoy any rights and could not hold private property. The slaves had a big role in the prosperity of ancient Greece as their toil and hard work made ancient Greek states what it was.

Slave trade also was a prosperous commercial activity in ancient Greece, with evidences of slave trade among the Greek states, and also overseas across the Mediterranean, Baltic and the Adriatic sea. They were also imported from North Africa whose slaves were greatly valued for being strong and hardworking.

The Basis of Ancient Greek economy

The basis of the Greek economy was its maritime trade. With very little agricultural land available, and 80 per cent of the land being mountainous, agriculture alone was enough to meet its food requirements in most cases. Without many natural gifts, Greek states had to depend on overseas trade with foreign lands to generate surplus wealth as we can see with Athens.

Trade between states was prevalent but less in comparison to overseas trade as the rough topography of ancient Greece had led to differential growth of several city-states and also with difficulties in communication through the land, maritime trade was more profitable and also preferred which led to states building up strong navies and navigating ships.

The criteria for economic prosperity

The scarcity of agricultural production with rough geography and the harsh weather conditions of the Mediterranean, having hot and dry summers and very cold winters led states to depend on trade and overseas conquests for their prosperity. States like Athens built a network of overseas colonies which brought in a huge amount of tribute facilitating its prospering economy. Even inland states like Sparta derived their wealth and stability by capturing the fertile lands of Messenia. Similar states embarked on conquests for capturing farmland to supplement their own production.

Ancient Sparta Economy

Sparta in Ancient Greece mainly had an agricultural economy. It depended on capturing farmlands and slaves for farming. The free men were all engaged as soldiers and agriculture were done mainly by the slaves or helots as they called them and also their women. Their money was also not very popular among the other Greeks as they used heavy iron bars as currency which according to legends was done to protect themselves from theft. They also despised material comfort as they thought it leads to softening of men and preferred a martial way of life with little place for luxuries and material comforts.

Ancient Athens economy and trade

The importance of trade in basic goods dictated extensive concern with commercial arrangements, despite the ambiguous status of merchants themselves. Private merchants operated most of the ships that carried foodstuffs and other goods. But Greek governments supervised the grain trade, providing not only transportation facilities but also storage depots to try to minimize the chance of famines. Other kinds of trade were vital also.

The shops of urban artists and craft workers played a vital role in the lifestyle of the upper classes, and some commodities, such as tools and pots, were sold more widely. The Greeks made important advances in shipbuilding and navigation, which were vital for their trading Ancient Greek Economics.

Seeing extensive trade and use of money in Greece from the fifth century B.C. onward, the modernists extrapolated the existence of a market economy in Classical Greece. On the other hand, seeing traditional Greek social and political values that disdained the productive, impersonal, and industrial nature of modern market economies, the primitivists downplayed the existence of extensive trade and the use of money in the Ancient Greek Economics.

As trade in wheat and foodstuffs was extremely crucial for the survival of the states so they took great interest in this trade. Firstly only the wheat trade was regulated by the government in fear that excess wheat would be traded out of their lands leaving their population impoverished and causing famines. So there were strict laws regulating the amount of wheat that could be exported. And states like Athens which had a large population had to import wheat from outside. The amount of wheat coming was almost equal to their own produce feeding two-thirds of the population.

But as long voyages in the sea were dangerous so the state had to develop something to keep those attractive and continuing.

For this states like Athens had formed elaborate machinery for chartering the ship, finding crew members, and supplying capital to ensure the voyages. They even had financial contracts and ensured loans for the trade. If the ships sank or were looted the loans could be forfeited. There were jurors who judged defaulting on financial contracts.