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The theory of ancient economic imperialism has declined for two reasons. The first is the absence of any reliable evidence that the politics of ancient states was dictated by economic considerations. Additionally, the usual focus on the Roman provincial system limits the understanding of ‘economic imperialism’ to that of a ‘formal empire’ and ignores other ancient societies. The second reason, which so far has been neglected, is the changing vision of modern imperialism. Once the modern colonial system fell, the understanding of imperialism returned to that of the precolonial period, which saw imperialism in political and military terms.