The economic autonomy of ancient deme sanctuaries was twofold: it maintained both an independence from, and dependence on, the city in which the sanctuary was located. However, if demes were responsible for building temples, paying for festivals, and organizing sacrifices in any way, a considerable amount of money had to come from within the deme itself. In an ideal deme cult, its polis would have donated money for the building of its temple, its temenos would have provided funds and animals for further construction and festivals, and its citizens would have contributed whatever money they could in the form of dedications and animals for sacrifice to support these undertakings as well. In turn, the deity would make these participants prosperous and the cycle would repeat. Temple economy relied on its temenos to provide cultivated resources for use and sale and also to be rented out or sold. Fees were also plentiful in temples and accumulated solid sources of income. Temples were also used for medical practices and oracle consultations; someone consulting the oracle was charged a fee as well as the task of performing a sacrifice, and patients who visited temples for medical purposes had to pay a fee for the use of the temple as well as present a votive offering. Aside from money that was charged or owed, many temples exploited other objects on their temenos for additional income, thus reflecting the potentially self-sustaining nature of temple finances. Given the variety of sources of income that came from the polis as well as demesmen, it needs to be determined whether or not temples could have afforded their expenses and what those were. This economic exchange shows that there was a reciprocity at the polis to deme temple level, and more prominently at the deme temple to citizen level which formed one cohesive economic system. The financial network of temples is integral to any conversation about the ancient economy because temples housed, received, and spent a substantial amount of its city’s and citizens’ money.
This paper seeks to understand the nature of the reciprocity between fourth century BCE Greek temples, their demes, and their poleis by investigating the major sources of income and expenses, as well as who was responsible for overseeing and providing funds for these transactions. This paints a fuller picture of what is entailed in an economic structure of deme cults. This also allows for an economic model of an ancient deme’s temple funds, which will put into practice the relationships between polis, deme temple, and citizens, which are discovered by investigating the transactions of money within deme temples. A closer look at the religious funds of fourth-century Erchia will provide an estimation of an economic model which elucidates the hierarchy of these relationships. These relationships clearly demonstrate that temple economy was not an area of ancient economy to be ignored; it was very strongly embedded among both its citizens and its polis.