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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The archives from the time of Zimri-Lim (1678-1664 BC) found in the palace at Mari allow a reconstruction of the accounting practises associated with institutional agriculture. Both the local relations of production and the political goals of the state are assessed in determining land use. The central government restricted itself to the distribution of a variety of resources to its rural estates and to the organisation of supplementary labourers. The "farmer" (ikkarum) managed the basic work unit, plough teams, in order to meet production goals, but his simultaneous contracts with directors of different estates both allowed for his investment (and private gain) and stimulated efficient employment of the palace's resources. This practice provided flexibility for the central government's management of its agricultural estates.

Les archives de l'époque de Zimri-Lim (1678-1664 BC) exhumés dans le palais de Mari permettent une reconstruction de la système de comptabilité de l'agriculture institutionelle. Les moyens de production disponibles et des considérations politiques déterminaient l'emploi des terres. Le gouvernement se bornait à la distribution des ressources et à l'organisation de la main-d'oeuvre supplémentaire. Le "cultivateur" (ikkarum) dirigeait les unités de base de l'agriculture, les charrues, afin de produire une récolte fixée. Il investissait des ressources privées (et pourait en profiter) et dirigait des charrues dans des domaines agricoles differentes, que permettait un emploi economique de resources du palais. Cette pratique fournissait de la flexibilité dans un régime dirigé de façon centralisée.


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