Debating Roman Demography

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Overview

In conjection with an extensive critical survey of recent advances and controversies in Roman demography, the four case-studies in this volume illustrate a variety of different approaches to the study of ancient population history. The contributions address a number of crucial issues in Roman demography from the evolution of the academic field to seasonal patterns of fertility, the number of Roman citizens, population pressure in the early Roman empire, and the end of classical urbanism in late antiquity. This is...

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Overview

In conjection with an extensive critical survey of recent advances and controversies in Roman demography, the four case-studies in this volume illustrate a variety of different approaches to the study of ancient population history. The contributions address a number of crucial issues in Roman demography from the evolution of the academic field to seasonal patterns of fertility, the number of Roman citizens, population pressure in the early Roman empire, and the end of classical urbanism in late antiquity. This is the first collaborative volume of its kind. It is designed to introduce ancient historians and classicists to demographic, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, and to situate and contextualize Roman population studies in the wider ambit of historical demography.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Any serious student of Roman history who has not yet read the book should do so now…
Dominic Rathbone, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2002.
Booknews
Schneidel (ancient history, U. of Chicago), intending to introduce classicists and ancient historians to the field of demography, presents four case studies and a general introduction to Roman demography. Covering a range of methodological practices, the studies focus on the seasonal birthing cycle of Roman women, population estimation by referencing the recruitment of Roman soldiers, the link between demographic and economic development, and the demise of the city in late antique Egypt. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Walter Scheidel, teaches ancient history at the University of Chicago. He has published widely on ancient social and economic history, including Measuring sex, age and death in the death in the Roman empire: explorations in ancient demography (Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement Volume 21,1996)
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    Scheidel and Saller's Silly Suppositions

    Walter Scheidel has put together a well researched and erudite text on Roman demography, featuring work by some of the field¿s most eminent scholars however, the endorsement by the pre-eminent Roman demographer in America of the erroneous thesis of Richard Saller (Patriarchy, Property & Death, Cambridge University Press, 1994), who is featured in this book, and Brent Shaw¿ that Roman males married on average at twenty-eight and females at age nineteen ¿ is disappointing. As has been shown in The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003), the ages at first marriages of Latin speakers were actually between fifteen and nineteen for males, twelve and sixteen for females: as almost everyone had assumed before Saller began to analyze dedications on epitaphs in 1983. (see: Friedlander, Ludwig. Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms in der Zeit von Augustus bis zum Ausgang der Antonine. 10th ed., 4 vols. Leipzig, 1922.) What the epitaphs actually show is that by twenty-eight most husbands had in fact lost their fathers, who always commemorated sons as long as they could, with the result that their wives thereafter became their principal commemorators. Likewise by nineteen most wives had living children, so that their husbands, who therefore got to keep the dowry, overtook their wives¿ fathers as commemorators. Scheidel has challenged anyone disputing Saller¿s assertion to prove his claim, stating that the burden of proof rests on his shoulders, rather than on Saller¿s. Why should this be the case ¿ whatever modern fertility transition theory argues ¿ when it is Saller who has made the revisionist claims against the accepted demographic interpretation?

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