Historian receives summer stipend to research ancient Greek economics

Monday, April 13, 2020

Michael Leese, assistant professor of history, has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend award to work on his second book, which will focus on the role of institutions in constraining economic development in ancient Greece.

“The chapters I will work on with the stipend will examine how the laws of different Greek cities affected the long-term growth and stability of business fortunes,” says Leese. “Did these laws further weaken the already tenuous basis for commercial and financial assets, forcing bankers and merchants to transform the business character of their assets by investing in land to protect their fortunes?” If so, he says, insurmountable institutional barriers to commercial and financial growth in antiquity could explain many of the behaviors scholars have traditionally attributed to a pre-rational economic mentality.

The book project expands on the themes Leese explored in his first book, “Making Money in Ancient Greece” (University of Michigan Press). Previously awarded a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship from Harvard University, Leese teaches courses on ancient Greece, Rome and economic history.

“It’s quite an honor to receive this summer stipend,” Leese says. “I’m very grateful to the NEH for giving me this focused period of time to work on this project.”