By Steven Johnstone
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A big volume of literature exists on Greek legislation, economics, and political philosophy. but nobody has written a background of belief, some of the most primary features of social and financial interplay within the old global. during this clean examine antiquity, Steven Johnstone explores the best way democracy and markets flourished in old Greece now not a lot via own relationships as via belief in summary systems—including funds, standardized size, rhetoric, and haggling.
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Extra resources for A History of Trust in Ancient Greece
I conclude with an examination of the trade in grain in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, in part as a contrast to that of the classical period, in part to indicate the limitations of ancient practices when considered in light of modern systems of standardization. The Standardized World Disenthrall yourself of a world saturated with exact measuring and systems of standardization. It was not always so. Speciﬁc, idiosyncratic, and unstandardized measures have been common throughout history. Although today such measures persist in certain situations (for example, women’s clothing sizes),8 we live mostly in a world where abstract, standardized, universal measures are (or are thought to be) the norm.
The test weight of any batch of wheat is determined empirically and independent of the moisture content. 13 Finally, as you may remember from reading your cereal boxes closely, grain is measured and sold by weight, not volume. Except for determining how much space is needed for storage or transport, weight matters. The highly articulated and differentiated distinctions of quality and quantity create fungibility—wheat of a speciﬁc class and grade is interchangeable. Thus wheat buyers can know the precise quality and quantity of the grain without ever seeing it.
12 Because of the huge capital investment in railroads, their owners lost money when the cars sat idle as gangs of men loaded and unloaded grain in bags. To speed up the process, the railroad owners began using 38 chapter three mechanized grain elevators. This required, however, that wheat, which had previously been shipped from the farm to its ﬁnal destination in sacks, be shipped in bulk, and to prevent the mixing of inferior with superior wheat a system of grading had to be developed and adopted—and forced upon reluctant farmers, who feared that the rules of grading were skewed to the advantage of the grain elevator owners against the farmers.