Annual Rainfall

Your readings in this module focus on the structures found at the fundamental level within states and empires in the ancient world, particularly in Greece and Rome. One factor that influenced the development of these structures was the natural environment.

Look at the figure below as an example. It defines three regional zones of labor based on soil quality:

  • Prime agricultural areas, where there is intensive farming
  • Marginal agricultural areas, where there is a mix of extensive agricultural and craft specializatio
  • Urban zones, where there is a mix of craft specialization, marketing, and administrative activities in an area with poor soil quality

A model of the relationship among population, economic activity, and land. 1. Prime Agricultural Areas with a moderate population where there is intensive farming due to prime soil conditions and some ceramic production; 2. Marginal Agricultural Areas with the lowest population, where there is a mix of extensive agricultural production, as well as ceramics, tool production, quarrying, and mining; and 3. Urban Zones, with the highest population density and the poorest soil quality, where there is politics, the production of ceramics and stone tools, and the construction of monuments.

Image source: Lane F. Fargher, “A Comparison of the Spatial Distribution of Agriculture and Craft Specialization in Five State-Level Societies,” Journal of Anthropological Research 65, no. 3 (Fall, 2009): 358

For your initial post, choose two states or empires in the ancient world. What structures (economic, gender, governmental, ideological, physical, social, or technological) did these societies create or improve to help develop their economies? Select two structures and discuss how they were affected by the following:

  • The size of their populations
  • The urban or rural nature of their populations
  • Their proximity to trade routes
  • Their natural resources (arable land, annual rainfall)



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