Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens

ISBN : 9780199335930

Peter Acton
408 ページ
164 x 239 mm

Despite the fact that Athenians consumed great quantities of manufactured goods, and around half of the residents of classical Athens can be shown to have been more or less dependent for survival on manufacturing in some form, this subject has been almost completely neglected by historians. Poiesis brings together ancient texts and inscriptions, recent scholarly analysis, archaeological finds, and the expertise of modern craftsmen to investigate every known facet of Athens' manufacturing activities. Authored by a management consultant and a recent PhD in Ancient History, the book presents the information in terms of contemporary business principles, drawing on supply and demand and risk-return analysis to explain events and choices. Manufacturing operations are classified in a novel framework based on competitive advantage and barriers to entry, concepts previously absent from ancient history. The framework explains why certain segments were suited to the sole craftsman and others to teams of slaves, and deduces earnings potential based upon competitive differentiation. The result is a new angle on how Athenian society operated; in particular it shows how fragmented industry structures, often the result of primitive technology, were fundamental to the workings of the Athenian democracy by enabling citizens to supplement their income through casual manufacturing activity. The book explains how manufacturing for sale emerged from autarchic peasant households, explores whether any of the industries examined changed to any great extent in Hellenistic and Roman times, and shows how some were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. It includes a methodology for quantifying the demographics of participation in manufacturing. By presenting a new paradigm of historical analysis, one complementing political, military, and literary perspectives, the book will be valuable to classicists and ancient and economic historians while remaining accessible to the general reader.


Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
A. Athens, the Manufacturing City
B. Original Sources
i. Ancient Literature
ii. Archaeology and Epigraphy
C. Methodology
i. Embeddedness and Empirical Analysis
ii. Theories of Firm Size
iii. The Theory of Competitive Advantage
iv. Competitive Advantage and Industry Structure
v. Applying the Competitive Advantage Framework
Chapter 2: Industry Formation
A. Early Manufacturing
B. Homer and the Households of the Rich
C. Hesiod and the Peasant Economy
D. Empirical Evidence
i. Metalworking
ii. Leatherwork
iii. Cosmetics and Perfumes
iv. Textiles
E. Supply and Demand in a Competitive Market
Chapter 3: The Pottery Industry
A. The Evidence
i. Original Texts
ii. Pots
iii. Potteries and Kilns
iv. Stamps and Graffiti
v. Vase Paintings
B. Industry and Workshop Size
C. Labour Force
i. The Process of Making Pots
ii. Staffing Needs
iii. Justifying a Full-Time Team
D. Bases for Differentiation
E. Subsequent Changes in Competitive Dynamics and Industry Structure
F. Summary
Chapter 4: Mining, Metals and Armour
A. Mining
B. Ore Processing
C. General Metalworking
D. Jewellery and Ornaments
E. Coinage
F. Bronze Armour
G. Shield Manufacture
H. Knives
I. Summary
Chapter 5: Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
A. Textiles and Clothing
i. Spinning and Weaving
ii. Scouring and Finishing
B. Footwear
i. Tanning
ii. Shoemaking
C. Summary
Chapter 6: Woodworking
A. Furniture
B. General and Specialised Woodworking Segments
C. Boat Building
i. The Trireme: Development and Configuration
ii. Responsibility for Building Triremes
iii. Manufacturing: the Hull
iv. Manufacturing: Components
v. Shipbuilding and Supplying Industries
D. Summary
Chapter 7: Construction Industries
A. Public Buildings
B. Monumental Statues
C. Private Housing and Infrastructure
D. Summary
Chapter 8: Food, Drink and Personal Care
A. Agricultural Products
i. The Athenian Diet
ii. Processing
iii. Food Service
B. Cosmetics, Perfumes and Medicines
C. Summary
Chapter 9: Athens' Manufacturers
A. Citizen Investors
B. Citizen Craftsmen
C. Women
D. Foreign Residents
E. Slaves
Athenian Currency
Appendix: Quantifying Manufacturing Preparation
A. Supply Analysis
B. Demand Analysis
Secondary Sources
Photo Credits


Peter Acton has a degree in Classics from Oxford University, an MBA from Stanford Business School, and a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Melbourne. He was a Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group from 1986 to 1999.