Extracted from the 14th century BC until the 1st century BC, the mines were in use for 1.300 years. Laurion is in Attica, and was therefore used by Athens. Excavations lead to the conclusion that Laurion was a small industrial settlement. It belonged to the state, and was a major source of income which allowed Athens to create many coins for broad circulation.

In the book written by Georgios Apergis „Assessment of the Layrion Minining Lease Records”, is pointed out that the mining excavations were made by rich citizens who had the capital to invest in slaves and tools formed contracts with the city and gained the right to access the workshops and the mine. The work, needed no less than 20.000 people, both slaves and free men. And much water and timber.

We see, thus, that the state cooperated with the private sector, with many individuals who could afforded to involve. An example was Nikias and his 1.000 slaves, who got paid one drachma for every 6 slaves daily. They earned their part of the profit and the rest belonged to the city. These policies helped minimize the taxation of the general population.

Another public enterprise was war. War didn’t only exist to preserve the independence of the city state, but rather was a pillar of Greek institutions.

Aristotle remarks in Politics (I,8,12) that war is a very profitable activity. Sacking a city, taking more land, capturing mines, or even enslaving entire cities was a common source of revenue. Regardless of whether wars broke out for political or economic reasons, they often proved profitable.

The importance of naval warfare couldn’t be underestimated. Fleets were one of the most expensive endeavors for the Greek city states, one of the most largest expenses being the costs of building and maintaining fleets. Through the centuries, ambitious cities like Samos, Chios, Rhodes, Corinth, Massalia and Syracuse, spent thousands on ships. But no city was more ambitious than Athens. In the 4th century, Athens built more than 400 ships, most of them triremes (τριηρις). The docks in Piraeus costed 6.000.000 drachmas.