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The Decline of the Agrarian Economy in Palestine under Roman Rule

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

Five main problems constitute the background for the decline of Palestine's agrarian economy under the Romans. A considerable part of the land was held by the Roman state, a situation that became more extensive than can be documented under previous regimes. Taxation, as described in talmudic sources, pressed heavily on the cultivators. Usury, a matter contrary to sacrosanct ancient prescriptions, was burdening the agrarian population by stratagems and cover-ups. Expropriation became frequent and there were instances of flight of both owners and sharecroppers. Finally, marriage and inheritance laws and customs brought about a far-reaching parceling of estates. It is shown that the decline was caused not only by Roman oppression, but also by internal factors, which together caused urbanization on the one hand, and emigration on the other. Cinq problèmes principaux constituent l'arrière-plan pour le déclin de l'économie agraire de la Palestine sous les Romains. Une partie considérable de la terre a été tenue par l'état romain, une situation qui est devenue plus étendue que peut être documentée sous des régimes précédents. L'imposition, comme décrite dans des sources talmudiques, oppressait fortement sur les cultivateurs. L'usure, qui contredit les prescriptions antiques sacro-saintes, accablait la population agraire par des stratagèmes et dissimulations. L'expropriation est devenue fréquente et il y avait des exemples de fuite des propriétaires et des métayers. Finalement, le mariage et les lois et coutumes de l'héritage ont produit un morcellement excessif des domaines. Y est montré que le déclin a été produit non seulement par l'oppression romaine, mais également par des facteurs internes, qui ensemble ont causé l'urbanisation d'une part, et l'émigration de l'autre.


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