Thus the temple and the city found the much needed capital to invest, in land, in trade and in banking. This small rock, managed to buy land in the nearby islands and lend it back to the inhabitants. They bought ships to trade, and due to the size of the port, they bought shares on private ships. Delos managed to get decorated with theaters, temples, promenades and great houses. By the end of the classic era, Apollo’s priests were the biggest private owners in Cyclades.
The Greeks had a very different view of industry than we we do. They thought that every profession that had to do with creating something was considered to be an art. The word “technician” comes to English from Ancient Greek. It derives from the word “texni,” “τέχνη” which means art. To make something be it a sword, a basket, or a table, the Greeks considered it to be a form of art.
In ancient Athens there was a great degree of economic specialization. Many of Athen’s citizens worked in manufacturing workshops, about 10.000 out of the 40.000 citizens, as Alice Burford cites in her book, “Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society” . Slaves were used in workshops for the heavier and more dangerous work. The city rarely intervened in the business of the workshop besides imposing a small tax.
There were few economic regulations, and these had to do with urban planning, such as mandating where the workshops could be built. For example, workshops were confined to outside the city walls to prevent fires. The greatest example is the Athenian industrial district southwest of the city towards the port of Piraeus, traces of which stand to this day. The law only recognized individuals, and not corporations.
The size of the workshops varied a lot. Some consisted of a dozen of slaves, while others employed hundreds of people depending on the type of industrial art practiced. In his speech, “Against Eratosthenis”, Lysias, a famous speechwriter, mentions that a man called Kefalos had a shield factory with 120 slaves. Demosthenes, the Athenian orator and statesman, in his speech “Against Afobous” mentions he had two small factories, one that made knives and had 30 slaves and one that made beds and had 2o slaves. Its interesting, that he mentions the factories as “μικρας τεχνας”, literally “small arts”.