Explain the main features of the Spartan Economy. [25 Marks]
In Sparta, the economy meant two things : the system of wealth creation and the state of the countrys prosperity. The economy has four essential features, natural resources, economic objectives (military state), distribution of land and the roles of Perioikoi and Helots. These features are inter-related and work together in order to achieve the economic objective, which was to maintain a military dominance. This priority of maintaining a military state, and the ineffectiveness of some of these structures eventually led to the decline of the Spartan economy.
The geography of Sparta enabled provision of sufficient resources to the Spartans. The lands of Laconia and Messene, which were captured by Spartans (and the Laconians and Messenians enslaved/subjugated) became a good food source for Sparta.
These two regions had good agricultural land which provided crops in abundance. These crops included barley, wheat, grapes and figs. Apart from the agricultural products, they also provided meat, as they grazed sheep, goats and pigs, which also supplied products such as milk, skins, wool, hair, fat, cheese etc. Iron, needed for weapons and armours was found in the Spartan territory itself, although they did have to import copper and tin to make bronze, which may have been for manufacturing utensils, statues, etc. Thus, it could be concluded that Sparta was a self sufficient area enclosed by natural barriers which protected rather than isolated it.
In Sparta, everything served a military purpose, everything subordinated to the art of war. The sole aim was to create "invincible" warriors and military dominance was maintained. Therefore, the economy was designed to ensure that hoplite classes ( heavily armed foot soldiers or infantrymen) of Spartiates and Perioikoi (dwellers around, sometimes made to fight in war for Sparta) were rich enough to maintain a high level of professional training and equipment. Each...