Italy’s wealth in ancient times as in modern lay in her food-producing soil. Gold was never found in the peninsula, and but little silver. Iron and copper were mined only in a narrow strip of Etruria, too circumscribed to entice many Romans into industries. The commerce of the seas was developed and held by people less well endowed with productive land, races compelled to trade if they were to survive. Agriculture was therefore Italy’s industry, in particular the cultivation of the Western littoral composed of the ejecta of the many volcanoes between central Etruria and Naples, and of the deep alluvial deposits of the Po valley. The hardy farmers of the Roman Campagna it was who organized the irresistible legions that united Italy and through the united strength of Italy the Mediterranean world, and it was the submersion of this stock of farmers that hastened the end of ancient civilization……AN ECONOMIC HISTORY OF ROME


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