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Small-scale Farmers

iugerum = 0.62 acres

In the earlier part of the Republican era, farm tracts were quite small; the 6 iugera given to each colonist at the port town of Cosa, when it was founded in 273 B.C., was typical. Only a part of that land could be committed to vines, so farmers then most likely pooled their wine yields each year at local cellars which in turn contracted with local pottery workshops for storage and transport amphorae. These farmers were eligible for military service, however, so over the centuries-long period of Rome's territorial expansion, many land plots were poorly tended and had to be sold. Thereafter the Italian landscape was gradually transformed into a socially-divided patchwork of estates at prime locations owned by just a few Roman families, and a myriad of remote, less fertile plots where peasants eeked out a retched life, always on the edge of starvation. Many of those peasants eventually came cap-in-hand to an estate-owner, there to labor alongside his slaves, in the vineyards and hayfields.