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Part 7 Rural Life

The two-fold division of the lands of the Empire into the Mediterranean lands with their'hot, dry summers, and the northern provinces with their cooler, wetter climate is reflected in the two quite different farming techniques practised in the respective zones: 'dry farming' in the former, 'humid farming' in the latter. This same division is largely true of the topography; the Mediterranean lands have mountain chains, low hills and alluvial plains which support different agricultural regimes: timber or summer pasture on the thin mountain soils; crops on the foothills, with olive and vine on the less rich upper parts, cereals on the lower; and stock raising andjor arable on the alluvial plains. The northern provinces have large areas of plain lands of heavier, fertile clays and loams alternating with downs of lighter but poorer chalks and limestones, with intrusions of mountain ranges. The upland areas tend to be better for stock, while the lower areas may support arable or mixed farming. They have too little sunshine, of course, to allow

pre-existing society. Many areas, such as early republican Italy were farmed by peasant agriculturalists on mixed subsistence farms, potentially, or even actually, able to make a surplus, but lacking much incentive to do so. Other areas already had highly developed agricultural systems, having been part of previous empires. Carthaginian areas of north Africa, Egypt and the Near East all had well worked out and distinctive economic and agricultural practices, with different forms of land ownership and tenurial systems, and these arrangements inevitably coloured the subsequent Roman development of their agriculture.