Working Papers by Subject - Mediterranean History

041307 Explaining the maritime freight charges in Diocletian’s Price Edict
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Geospatial modeling enables us to relate the maritime freight charges imposed by the tetrarchic price controls of 301 CE to simulated sailing time. This exercise demonstrates that price variation is to a large extent a function of variation in sailing time and suggests that the published rates are more realistic than previously assumed.

041306 The shape of the Roman world
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Ancient societies were shaped by logistical constraints that are almost unimaginable to modern observers. “ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World” (http://orbis.stanford.edu) for the first time allows us to understand the true cost of distance in building and maintaining a huge empire with premodern technology. This paper explores various ways in which this novel Digital Humanities tool changes and enriches our understanding of ancient history.

091101 Who Are You? Africa and Africans
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This is the third revised version of a chapter being prepared for the Whiley-Blackwell Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean.
This paper replaces 081102 originally posted in August 2011.

081102 Who Are You? Africa and Africans
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 091101 entry.

081101 Slavery in the Roman Provinces: North Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This is the second corrected draft of a piece being prepared for the Mainz Academy’s CD- ROM encyclopaedic reference work Handwörterbuch der antiken Sklaverei.
This paper replaces 051102 originally posted in May 2011.

061101 Who Are You? Africans and Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 081102 entry.

051102 Slavery in the Roman Provinces: North Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 081101 entry.

081001 Review of T. V. Evans and D. D. Obbink (eds.), The Language of the Papyri
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This is a review, commissioned by and written for Bryn Mawr Classical Review, of an excellent collection of papers on the language — really, languages — found in Greek and Latin papyri and related sources from the third century B.C. to the seventh/eighth century A.D. Many of the contributions deserve a wider readership than I expect they will receive.

021003 Age and health in Roman Egypt
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Prepared for a forthcoming handbook of Roman Egypt, this paper surveys ancient and comparative evidence and modern interpretations of life expectancy, mortality patterns, and disease in ancient Egypt.

011003 Greco-Roman sex ratios and femicide in comparative perspective
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Is it possible to demonstrate that ancient Greeks or Romans disposed of newborn daughters in ways that skewed sex ratios in favor of males? Epigraphic, papyrological, and archaeological evidence fails to provide reliable empirical support for this notion. At the same time, we cannot rule out the possibility that femicide did in fact occur. Drawing on comparative anthropological and historical evidence, this paper briefly develops two models of femicidal practice.

011001 Roman wellbeing and the economic consequences of the ‘Antonine Plague’
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University (with a contribution by John Sutherland)
Download PDF Abstract - This paper responds to recent scholarship by Willem Jongman and Geoffrey Kron that has tried to make a case for elevated levels of prosperity and physical wellbeing in the first two centuries of the Roman imperial monarchy. The relevance of various putative indicators is critiqued. Demographic data as well as anthropometric evidence consistently point to high levels of morbidity and mortality and substantial developmental stress. This evidence is incompatible with an optimistic interpretation of living conditions in that period. The second part of the paper revisits previous arguments concerning the impact of the so-called ‘Antonine Plague’ of the late second century CE. Papyrological data from Roman Egypt indicate a shift in the ratio of land to labor that is logically consistent with a significant demographic contraction. At the same time, comparative evidence from other periods suggests that the scale of this contraction must not be overrated.
This paper replaces (090903) originally published in September 2009.

090904 Real wages in early economies: Evidence for living standards from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Price and wage data from Roman Egypt in the first three centuries CE indicate levels of real income for unskilled workers that are comparable to those implied by price and wage data in Diocletian’s price edict of 301 CE and to those documented in different parts of Europe and Asia in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. In all these cases, consumption was largely limited to goods that were essential for survival and living standards must have been very modest. A survey of daily wages expressed in terms of wheat in different Afroeurasian societies from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE yields similar results: with a few exceptions, real incomes of unskilled laborers tended to be very low.
This paper replaces (030801) originally published in March 2008.

090903 Roman wellbeing and the economic consequences of the ‘Antonine Plague’
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
This paper paper has been removed at the request of the author.

090902 Coin quality, coin quantity, and coin value in early China and the Roman world
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Revised September 2010. See entry 091002.

040902 A comparative perspective on the determinants of the scale and productivity of maritime trade in the Roman Mediterranean
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - The scale and productivity of maritime trade is a function of environmental conditions, political processes and economic development that determine demand, and more specifically of trading costs. Trading costs are the sum of transportation costs (comprised of the cost of carriage and the cost of risk, most notably predation), transaction costs and financing costs. Comparative evidence from the medieval and early modern periods shows that the cost of predation (caused by war, privateering, piracy, and tolls) and commercial organization (which profoundly affects transaction and financing costs as well as the cost of carriage) have long been the most important determinants of overall trading costs. This suggests that conditions in the Roman period were unusually favorable for maritime trade. Technological innovation, by contrast, was primarily an endogenous function of broader political and economic developments and should not be viewed as a major factor in the expansion of commerce in this period.

010903 Monogamy and polygyny
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract -This paper discusses Greco-Roman practices of monogamy and polygyny for a forthcoming handbook on the ancient family.

060809 Human capital and the growth of the Roman economy
Richard Saller, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Over the past 50 years economists have increasingly emphasized investment in human capital as a fundamental cause of sustained economic growth, because investments in education, training and health make the labor force more productive. This paper examines Roman education and training, and argues that Roman investment in human capital was higher in the early empire that at any time in Europe before 1500 CE, but noticeably lower than in the fastest growing economies of the early modern era (e.g., the Netherlands).

060808 In search of Roman economic growth
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract -This paper seeks to relate proxy indices of economic performance to competing hypotheses of sustainable and unsustainable intensive economic growth in the Roman world. It considers the economic relevance of certain types of archaeological data, the potential of income-centered indices of economic performance, and the complex relationship between economic growth and incomes documented in the more recent past, and concludes with a conjectural argument in support of a Malthusian model of unsustainable economic growth triggered by integration.
This paper has now been published in Journal of Roman Archaeology, Vol 22 (2009) pp. 46-70.

060807 Monogamy and polygyny in Greece, Rome, and world history
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - In what sense were the ancient Greeks and Romans monogamous, and why does it matter? This paper summarizes the physical and anthropological record of polygyny, briefly sketches the historical expansion of formal monogamy, considers complementary theories of mate choice, and situates Greco-Roman practice on a spectrum from traditional polygamy to more recent forms of normative monogyny.
This paper has now been published in History of the Family, Vol 14 (2009) pp. 280-291.

040801 Rome's Mediterranean World System and Its Transformation
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - An analysis of the recent large-scale interpretation of the great transition from the ancient world of the Roman Empire to the worlds of its successor states, economies, and societies offered by Chris Wickham in his ‘Framing the Early Middle Ages.’
This paper replaces version 1 (010801) originally posted in January 2008.
A revised version of the paper with the title "After Rome" has now been published in The New Left Review vol. 52 (May-June 008), pp. 89-114.

030801 Real wages in early economies: Evidence for living standards from 2000 BCE to 1300 CE
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Abstract - Price and wage data from Roman Egypt in the first three centuries CE indicate levels of real income for unskilled workers that are comparable to those implied by price and wage data in Diocletian’s price edict of 301 CE and to those documented in different parts of Europe and Asia in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. In all these cases, consumption was largely limited to goods that were essential for survival and living standards were very low. A survey of daily wages expressed in terms of wheat in different Afroeurasian societies from 2000 BCE to 1300 CE yields similar results: with only few exceptions, real incomes of unskilled laborers tended to be very low.
This paper has been revised. Please see entry 090904 posted in September 2009.
020803 The monetary systems of the Han and Roman empires
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - The Chinese tradition of supplementing large quantities of bronze cash with unminted gold and silver represents a rare exception to the western model of precious-metal coinage. This paper provides a detailed discussion of monetary development in ancient China followed by a brief survey of conditions in the Roman empire. The divergent development of the monetary systems of the Han and Roman empires is analyzed with reference to key variables such as the metal supply, military incentives, and cultural preferences. This paper also explores the “metallistic” and “chartalistic” elements of the Han and Roman currency systems and estimates the degree of monetization of both economies.
This paper replaces version 1.0 (110505) originally posted in November 2005.
This paper has now been published in "Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires" W. Scheidel (ed.), Oxford University Press: New York, 2009, pp. 137-207.

020802 Real Wages in Roman Egypt: A contribution to recent work on pre-modern living standards
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
This paper has been removed.

010801 Rome's Mediterranean World System and Its Transformation
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 040801 entry.

080701 Rule and Revenue in Egypt and Rome: Political Stability and Fiscal Institutions
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper investigates what determines fiscal institutions and the burden of taxation using a case study from ancient history. It evaluates Levi’s model of taxation in the Roman Republic, according to which rulers’ high discount rates in periods of political instability encourage them to adopt a more predatory fiscal regime. The evidence for fiscal reform in the transition from the Republic to the Principate seems to support her hypothesis but remains a matter of debate among historians. Egypt’s transition from a Hellenistic kingdom to a Roman province under the Principate provides an analogous case for which there are better data. The Egyptian evidence shows a correlation between rulers’ discount rates and fiscal regimes that is consistent with Levi’s hypothesis.
This paper has now been published in "Rule and Revenue in Egypt and Rome: Political Stability and Fiscal Institutions." Special Issue: New Political Economy in History. Historical Social Research 32/4 (2007), pp. 252-74.

070705 Narratives of Roman Syria: a historiography of Syria as a province of Rome
Lidewijde de Jong, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: In this paper I examine the scholarship of Roman Syria and the history of research on this province. The scholarly narrative of Roman Syria revolves around strong Greek influence and little impact of Roman rule, which has resulted in studying Syria as a unique and distinct entity, separated from Rome. In light of new archaeological finds and a re-evaluation of older evidence, I argue that these assumptions of deep hellenization and shallow Roman impact need to be abandoned. Using models coming out of research in other provinces of the Roman empire and anthropological studies of colonialism and material culture, I propose a set of different narratives about Roman Syria. This paper is the first chapter of my dissertation: Becoming a Roman province: An analysis of funerary practices in Roman Syria in the context of empire.


010705 An Early Ptolemaic Land Survey in Demotic: P. Cair. II 31073
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Abstract - This paper provides a preliminary edition of an early Ptolemaic land survey from the southern Fayyum and related accounts. Although photographs and a brief description were included in the Cairo catalogue of Demotic papyri in 1908, it has never been edited or fully discussed. The text furnishes valuable data about land tenure, agriculture, and taxation, especially on royal land. This version is meant to provide a basis for further discussion until the edition is complete. Version 2.0 includes revisions to the dating, overview, and some readings in the text, superceding the earlier version. This version replaces 050606.
This paper has now been published in A. Monson (2012). Agriculture and Taxation in Early Ptolemaic Egypt: Demotic Land Surveys and Accounts. PTA 46. Bonn: Habelt Verlag.

010704 Royal Land in Ptolemaic Egypt: A Demographic Model
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - Studies of Ptolemaic agrarian history have focused on the nature of state ownership. Recent work has emphasized the regional differences between the Fayyum, where royal land was prevalent, and Upper Egypt, where private land rights were already established. This study proposes a demographic model that regards communal rights on royal land as an adaptation to risk and links privatization with population pressure. These correlations and their reflection in Demotic and Greek land survey data raise doubts about the common view that patterns of tenure on royal land in the Fayyum can be attributed to more intensive state control over this region than the Nile Valley. Version 2.0 is substantially revised and replaces the earlier version 050602.
This paper has now been published in "Royal Land in Ptolemaic Egypt: A Demographic Model." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 50/4 (2007), pp. 363-97.

010701 Cult and Belief in Punic and Roman Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This is the first attempt at a synthesis of the main problems for the forthcoming Cambridge History of Ancient Religions. The problems are complex and threaten to overwhelm. This version is therefore as much a cri de coeur as it is a first statement of the what the author has been able to make out of the surviving evidence. Any helpful thoughtsencouraged.

120603 Coinage as ‘Code’ in Ptolemaic Egypt
JG Manning, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - In this paper I survey the use of money in Ptolemaic Egypt with a particular focus on the introduction of coinage by the Ptolemies. I draw connections between monetization of the economy with other institutional reforms, especially as they concern the legal reforms of Ptolemy II. The paper will appear in a volume on money edited by William Harris. (This is revision 1.3 replacing 040602 entry.)

070601 A Prehistory of Hatred
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Abstract - A critical reconsideration of a recent foray into the vexatious problem of the origins of race and racism.
This is now published in "Journal of World History" vol. 16 (2005), pp. 227-32.

050605 An Early Ptolemaic Land Survey in Demotic: P. Cair. II 31073
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Revised. See 010705, January 2007, version 2.

050604 The Ptolemaic economy, institutions, economic integration, and the limits of centralized political power
JG Manning, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - In this paper I discuss the relationship between the Ptolemaic state and economic development. My approach is informed by New Institutional Economics (NIE) and also by insights offered by Economic Sociology. I argue that the incentive structures that the Ptolemies established probably did not allow sustainable, or aggregate, economic growth despite important new fiscal institutions, some capital investment in new agricultural areas, and the possibility of new technology. I begin with a discussion of institutions and the Ptolemaic state, and move on to discuss, briefly, developments and the structure of the economy, before ending with an examination of the land tenure regime and how it relates to performance. (This revised paper replaces Version 1.0 posted in April 2005.)

050603 Sex and empire: a Darwinian perspective
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper draws on evolutionary psychology to elucidate ultimate causation in imperial state formation and predatory exploitation in antiquity and beyond. Differential access to the means of reproduction is shown to have been a key feature of early imperial systems. (NB: This revised paper replaces Version 1.0 posted in November 2005.)
This paper has now been published in "The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power From Assyria to Byzantium" I. Morris and W. Scheidel (eds.), Oxford University Press: New York, 2009, pp. 255-324.

050602 Royal Land in Ptolemaic Egypt: A Demographic Model
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Revised. See 010704, January 2007, version 2.

040603 The divergent evolution of coinage in eastern and western Eurasia
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper offers a concise comparative assessment of some key features of the "Aegean" and "Chinese" models of coinage.

040602 Coinage as ‘Code’ in Ptolemaic Egypt
JG Manning, Stanford University
This paper has been revised. Please see the 120603 entry.

030603 Texts, contexts, subtexts and interpretative frameworks. Beyond the parochial and toward (dynamic) modeling of the Ptolemaic state and the Ptolemaic economy
JG Manning, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - My concern in this paper is the historical interpretation of the Greek and demotic documentary papyri of the Ptolemaic period, the role of Archaeology in the context of Ptolemaic economic history, and the application of social science theory towards an understanding of Ptolemaic Egypt.

020603 Bad Boys: Circumcellions and Fictive Violence
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - The circumcellions were roving bands of violent men and women found in late Roman Africa. The problem is that far more of them have been produced by literary fictions, ancient and modern, than once existed. The fictions have their own intriguing history, but they are otherwise useless for those who are interested in the banality of what actually happened.
This paper has been published in H. A. Drake et al. eds., Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006, pp. 179-96.

020601 Republics between hegemony and empire: How ancient city-states built empires and the USA doesn’t (anymore)
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper discusses the concepts ‘empire’ and ‘hegemony’, provides a new model of the institutional structure of ancient ‘citizen-city-state empires’, and argues that the contemporary USA cannot be defined as an ‘empire’.

120518 Map Resources for Roman North Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This is the early draft of a collation of the map resources that are available for the study of Roman North Africa. It is hoped that, even in this early stage of presentation, it will be of some use to those who are seeking cartographic resources for research on the region.

120515 Seasonal Mortality in Imperial Rome and the Mediterranean: Three Problem Cases
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
No longer available as a working paper. This is now published as Chapter 4 [in] Glenn R. Storey ed., Urbanism in the Preindustrial World: Cross-Cultural Approaches (Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama Press, 2006), pp. 86-109.

120503 Review of Joachim Latacz’s 'Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery'
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - In this book, a translation of a German bestseller, the most vigorous proponent of the view that the Iliad is a reliable source of information about the city of Troy in the Late Bronze Age, presents the evidence from two very different fields: archaeology and linguistics/philology. Though especially sympathetic to the idea that certain significant details in Homer reflect society as it was long before the eighth century B.C., in a shared Greco-Anatolian setting, this reviewer, a linguist/philologist, is nevertheless dismayed by Latacz’s presentation of the evidence. To take just one egregious example of bias disguised as fact—a “fact” that certain colleagues are unfortunately already citing as gospel—there is, pace Latacz and Frank Starke, no evidence for the claim that an actual Hittite document reveals as a forebear of the king of Ahhiyawa (~ Achaia) a man by the name of Kadmos.
This has been published in Journal of the American Oriental Society 125 (2005), pp. 422-25.

110508 Real slave prices and the relative cost of slave labor in the Greco-Roman world
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper traces the development of slave prices in the ancient Mediterranean. In classical Athens, slave prices were low relative to staple food and free wages were high, whereas in Roman Egypt, slaves were expensive compared to food and free labor. High real wages are conducive to the use of slave labor and account for its expansion in archaic and classical Greece and Republican Rome.

110506 Sex and empire: a Darwinian perspective
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Revised May 2006. See 050603 entry.

110505 The monetary systems of the Han and Roman empires
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Revised February 2008. See 020803 entry.

110504 The comparative economics of slavery in the Greco-Roman world
Walter Scheidel, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - A comparative perspective improves our understanding of the critical determinants of the large-scale use of slave labor in different sectors of historical economies, including classical Greece and the Italian heartland of the Roman empire. This paper argues that the success of chattel slavery was a function of the specific configuration of several critical variables: the character of certain kinds of economic activity, the incentive system, the normative value system of a society, and the nature of commitments required of the free population. High real wages and low slave prices precipitated the expansion of slavery in classical Greece and Republican Rome, while later periods of Roman history may have witnessed either a high-equilibrium level of slavery or its gradual erosion in the context of lower wages and higher prices.

110511 The Ethics and Economics of Ptolemaic Religious Associations
Andrew Monson, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper considers the economic status of the members in Ptolemaic religious associations and offers a model to explain why they participated. Drawing on Charles Tilly’s comparative study of trust networks, I suggest that religious associations institutionalized informal ethical norms into formal rules that lowered the costs of transacting and facilitated cooperation among villagers. The rules related to legal disputes illustrate how associations exercised this power and even tried to prevent the Ptolemaic state from intruding in their network. NB: This has been published in Ancient Society 36 (2006), 221-238.

100501 Egyptian grain transport
JG Manning, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - I review here a recent publication of a papyrus document dating to the Ramesside period concerning the transportation of grain.

050501 Land tenure, rural space, and the political economy of Ptolemaic Egypt (332 BC-30 BC)
JG Manning, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract - In this paper I argue that statist (or “despotic”) assumptions of royal power does not adequately describe the nature of political power in the Ptolemaic development of Egypt. I examine the process of Ptolemaic state formation from the point of view of the expansion and the settlement of the Fayyum, the foundation of Ptolemais in the Thebaid, and from the point of view of new fiscal institutions.

040501 The Ptolemaic economy, institutions, economic integration, and the limits of centralized political power
JG Manning, Stanford University
Revised May 2006. See entry 050604.