Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens

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Poiesis brings together archaeological finds, ancient texts and inscriptions, recent scholarly analysis, and the expertise of modern craftsmen to investigate every known facet of Athens' manufacturing activities. Despite the fact that Athenians consumed great quantities of manufactured goods, and around half of the residents of classical Athens can be shown to have been dependent for survival on manufacturing in some form, the subject has been almost completely neglected by historians. The book draws on the analytical techniques of contemporary business economics--supply and demand, competition theory, and risk-return analysis--to explain events and choices. Manufacturing operations are classified in an original framework that explains why certain segments were suited to the sole craftsman and others to teams of slaves, and deduces earnings potential based upon barriers to entry and competitive differentiation. The result is a new and refreshing angle on how Athenian society operated that complements political, military, and literary perspectives, with important and often surprising implications. Among other insights the analysis shows how fragmented industry structures were fundamental to the workings of Athenian democracy by enabling citizens to supplement their income through casual manufacturing activity.

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About the Author:


Peter Acton has a degree in Classics from Oxford University, an MBA from Stanford Business School, and a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Melbourne. He was a Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group from 1986 to 1999.

Review:


"Peter Acton's book revolutionizes the current views on the ancient Athenian economy. Against old orthodoxies, it proves that just like the towns of medieval and early modern word and despite the inevitable differences in institutional framework, Athens was an 'industrious city.' The Weberian model of the 'ancient consumer city' is dead and should definitely be replaced by that of the 'manufacturing city.'" --Alain Bresson, University of Chicago


"Only highly fragmentary information has survived concerning any aspect of Athenian manufacturing, and almost all of this scanty evidence is preserved merely in passing in works devoted to cultural and/or literary aspects of Athenian high culture, or in material remains lacking context. This void has precluded-until now-any serious scholarly investigation of Athenian manufacturing. Acton's efforts to place the fragmentary ancient evidence within a matrix of considerations developed by modern business analysts and consultants, supplemented by insights from modern craft activities, augmented by comparative evidence skillfully selected and honed by the author, here generates a new, and persuasive, paradigm relating to Athenian manufacturing. It is a pioneering academic advance." --Edward Cohen, University of Pennsylvania


"Poiesis is a remarkable book, which gives us not just the first detailed look at classical Athenian manufacturing in more than a century, but also a whole new way for thinking about ancient industry. Drawing important lessons from his own extensive experience as a business consultant, Peter Acton has made a major contribution to the ongoing debates about the structure and performance of the ancient Greek economy." --Ian Morris, Stanford University


"Acton takes on the whole of the manufacturing landscape of the classical Athenian polis with remarkable success. . . . It is difficult to find fault with his book, and some hard-won insights result from his comprehensive approach." -- Michael Kulikowski, London Review of Books


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Despite the fact that Athenians consumed great quantities of manufactured goods, and around half of the residents of classical Athens can be shown to have been more or less dependent for survival on manufacturing in some form, this subject has been almost completely neglected by historians. Poiesis brings together ancient texts and inscriptions, recent scholarly analysis, archaeological finds, and the expertise of modern craftsmen to investigate every knownfacet of Athens' manufacturing activities. Authored by a management consultant and a recent PhD in Ancient History, the book presents the information in terms of contemporary business principles, drawing on supply and demand and risk-return analysis to explain events and choices. Manufacturing operations areclassified in a novel framework based on competitive advantage and barriers to entry, concepts previously absent from ancient history. The framework explains why certain segments were suited to the sole craftsman and others to teams of slaves, and deduces earnings potential based upon competitive differentiation. The result is a new angle on how Athenian society operated; in particular it shows how fragmented industry structures, often the result of primitive technology, were fundamental to theworkings of the Athenian democracy by enabling citizens to supplement their income through casual manufacturing activity. The book explains how manufacturing for sale emerged from autarchic peasant households, explores whether any of the industries examined changed to any great extent in Hellenisticand Roman times, and shows how some were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. It includes a methodology for quantifying the demographics of participation in manufacturing. By presenting a new paradigm of historical analysis, one complementing political, military, and literary perspectives, the book will be valuable to classicists and ancient and economic historians while remaining accessible to the general reader. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199335930

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Despite the fact that Athenians consumed great quantities of manufactured goods, and around half of the residents of classical Athens can be shown to have been more or less dependent for survival on manufacturing in some form, this subject has been almost completely neglected by historians. Poiesis brings together ancient texts and inscriptions, recent scholarly analysis, archaeological finds, and the expertise of modern craftsmen to investigate every known facet of Athens manufacturing activities. Authored by a management consultant and a recent PhD in Ancient History, the book presents the information in terms of contemporary business principles, drawing on supply and demand and risk-return analysis to explain events and choices. Manufacturing operations are classified in a novel framework based on competitive advantage and barriers to entry, concepts previously absent from ancient history. The framework explains why certain segments were suited to the sole craftsman and others to teams of slaves, and deduces earnings potential based upon competitive differentiation. The result is a new angle on how Athenian society operated; in particular it shows how fragmented industry structures, often the result of primitive technology, were fundamental to the workings of the Athenian democracy by enabling citizens to supplement their income through casual manufacturing activity. The book explains how manufacturing for sale emerged from autarchic peasant households, explores whether any of the industries examined changed to any great extent in Hellenistic and Roman times, and shows how some were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. It includes a methodology for quantifying the demographics of participation in manufacturing. By presenting a new paradigm of historical analysis, one complementing political, military, and literary perspectives, the book will be valuable to classicists and ancient and economic historians while remaining accessible to the general reader. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199335930

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