by J. M. Wagstaff, Durham University
The article was published by The Institute of Balkan Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2 (1965)
"While investigating problems of rural settlement in the Mani peninsula of southern Greece it became desirable to reconstruct the region's past economies. My scope, however, was immediately limited by the nature of the materials available. Economic information for Mani is lacking for any period other than the modern. . . . . Although travelogues mentioning Mani occur sporadically before the 17th century they are most numerous for the period of c. 1680 to c. 1840. The only reconstruction I could make, therefore, was confined to the 18th century as limited by these two dates.
To use the traveller's accounts effectively each journey had to be dated and the route located. The special interests of the travellers, which conditioned what they saw and coloured their subsequent reports, were then noted. Finally, their information had to be extracted and coordinated. . . . . "
Wagstaff is able to outline the Maniot economy as it was in the 18th century, giving some interesting detail. For those of us with ancestors from this part of Greece, reading this article helps us better understand the conditions in which they lived.
The travellers who wrote these accounts describe production of:
Kalambokki, or sorghum
Beans, chick peas and lupin seeds
Valonea (a substance useful in tanning)
Prinokoki (a brilliant scarlet dye)
Manufacture of cloth (cotton and silk)
Piracy (Maniots were notorious wreckers and pirates)
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