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Absent-Minded Landlords And Innovating Peasants? The Press In Africa And The Eastern Mediterranean

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Chapter Summary

The screw mechanism for wine and oil presses was widely applied in the eastern Mediterranean only in Late Antiquity, about half a millennium after its invention. This occurred in relation to a great intensification of commercial production in this region, including the bringing into cultivation of marginal land and the occupation of new areas. However, why was a screw mechanism not used in other important export regions, such as North Africa? Case studies of settlement patterns in a number of regions suggest that the absentee landlords of large estates seem to have been less inclined to adopt changed technology, whereas resident owners?whether of large or small estates?living close to their land, and directly involved in the processes of production, may have been more likely to do so.

Keywords: absentee landlords; eastern Mediterranean; Late Antiquity; North Africa; oil presses



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