COLLOQUIUM: Alex Walthall, The University of Texas at Austin, "Instruments of Extraction: Royal Administration in the Kingdom of Hieron II"

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

In this paper, I share the results of recent efforts to reconstruct administrative and economic aspects of the kingdom of the Syracusan monarch Hieron II (r. 269–215 BCE). First, I examine an essential instrument of the royal tax administration, the standardization of units, and go on to explore the benefits of standardization for the king. I present the material evidence for standardization in the kingdom and argue that Hieronian Sicily offers a fruitful case study for understanding this lesser-known facet of Hellenistic monarchy. Next, I discuss the two monumental granaries at Morgantina, a city within the kingdom, and contend that these warehouses served as centralized points for the collection, storage, and redistribution of the agricultural tithe collected by Hieron. As documents of Hieronian administration, these monuments speak to the impact of royal authority in shaping the built environment of the Hellenistic city. Finally, I switch perspectives and consider the impact of royal administration on trade and exchange inside the Hieronian kingdom. Here, I argue that the annual tithe owed to the king fueled intensive exploitation of agricultural resources and, in turn, created the appropriate conditions and stimuli for economic prosperity.