Discussion of ancient economic history is often accompanied by admonitions seemingly more appropriate to the packaging of tobacco products: ‘Ancient economics has become a treacherous field’ (Schaps 1998b: 1) that ‘can sometimes leave you with a sleepless night’ (Isager and Skydsgaard 1992: 121), or with ‘the virtual impossibility of drawing up a reasoned and equilibrated balance-sheet’ (Andreau et al. 1994:10).1 ‘Danger . . . familiarity with the debate leads to boredom’ (Whittaker 1995: 22). For active participants in the debate over the nature of ‘the ancient economy,’ however, the threat seems far more toxic than mere ennui: ‘some recent works express amazement that the other side has not yet fallen down dead’ (Schaps 1998b: 1), and others gape at ‘modernism’s miraculous powers of recuperation from repeated and apparently fatal blows’ (Meikle 1995b: 148). As with ‘passive smoking,’ the victims include even scholars who consciously seek to avoid involvement.2