Classics Ancient Demography
by
Saskia Hin
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0208

Introduction

Demography, or population studies, tackles questions surrounding the structure and dynamics of populations. It is concerned with life events of individuals: births, marriages, migration, and death. At a meso-level, demography studies household composition and family ties and changes in these over the life course or across time and space. At the macro-level, population growth dynamics and the question of what drives these dynamics are concerned. As a strongly interdisciplinary field, demography draws on a range of divergent sources that provide complementary perspectives. For the ancient world, main sources to reconstruct the composition of populations (by age, by sex, by marital status, and by household composition) and to track their development over time are provided by (1) the census papyri from Roman Egypt; (2) census figures preserved in various literary sources; (3) gravestones or epitaphs that yield insights in marriage patterns and family ties (but not household composition directly); (4) archaeological survey evidence that sheds light on population trends; (5) bioarchaeological or paleodemographic evidence that increasingly starts to inform us about health conditions and migration. The limited and fragmentary nature of all of these sources means that quantitative approaches to ancient demography have their limitations. Qualitative approaches, however, are fruitfully applied to complement quantitative perspectives—here demography intertwines especially with the areas of family studies and social and economic history. The sources exploited to provide these perspectives likewise encompass documentary (epigraphic, papyrological and [bio]archaeological), as well as literary evidence. This bibliography collects some of the work published in the field of ancient demography. Its aim is not to be comprehensive, but rather to provide the reader with tools to start his or her own journey into the area with an informed perspective on key works, and to provide references to publications that will offer further guidance into the literature and debates on subjects related to the core of demography (such as family studies). Given the purpose of offering guidance to nonspecialists first engaging with the sub-discipline, this critical bibliography occasionally includes works that do not represent the most recent viewpoints on an issue, but those that readers are likely to encounter, and for which it is particularly helpful to have a critical annotation.

General Overviews

General introductions are obviously the best point at which to start. For the Greek world, the chapters on demography in French in Bresson 2007 and Sallares 1991 provide good entries that cover most relevant themes. Bresson’s chapter emphasizes that Greek marriage patterns created a much larger potential for population growth than was the case in pre-transitional Northern Europe, and that factors relating to hygiene were at least no worse, possibly better. The empirical evidence about Roman Egypt as collected in Bagnall and Frier 2006, however, shows that this theoretical potential need not have materialized: in Roman Egypt, where similar marriage patterns prevailed, no rapid population growth was apparent. For the Roman context, an up-to-date account of issues relating to population size, population dynamics, fertility, mortality and migration up to the early Empire can be found in Hin 2013. A very concise coverage of most relevant themes in demography, but to be used with some caution, is offered in French in Corvisier and Suder 2000. Stangeland’s classic (Stangeland 2012) provides insight into the history of population thought, showing how societies perceived of demographic issues. Some of Stangeland’s interpretations surely need to be read in the light of his book’s original publication date of 1904. But Stangeland’s broad coverage—philosophical, political, and religious, as well as legal perspectives—, clear presentation style and links to population thought at later times still make it the best introduction to the subject. The most comprehensive treatment of the ancient source evidence (through 1992) in a single publication is found in Parkin 1992. Some of Parkin’s criticism on these sources is tackled by newer model life tables referred to in Woods 2007 (cited under Mortality) and Hin 2013, which are drawn from low-life-expectancy populations. Even more importantly, both Bagnall and Frier 2006 (first published in 1994) and Clarysse and Thompson 2006 have subsequently provided important new collections of papyrological evidence. Inferences on mortality and life expectancy in Bagnall and Frier 2006 have subsequently been criticized in Scheidel 2001b (cited under Mortality). In recent years, bioarchaeology has started to provide increasingly important contributions to the study of aspects of ancient demography. In the absence of a general overview drawing on this type of evidence, the evidence is referred to under relevant subsections.

  • Bagnall, Roger S., and Bruce W. Frier. 2006. The demography of Roman Egypt. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    This pioneering work collects and analyzes census papyri from Roman Egypt. Data quality tests suggest that these papyri provide the best source of demographic evidence for the Greco-Roman world (despite issues highlighted in Scheidel 2001 (cited under Anthologies). Bagnall and Frier use various demographic techniques to derive information on life expectancy, marriage, fertility, and migration from individual-level characteristics described on these records (among others age, marital status, and family composition).

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    • Bresson, Alain. 2007. Les hommes dans leur milieu. In L’Économie de la Grèce des cités (fin VIe–Ier siècle a. C.). Vol. 1, Les structures et la population. By Alain Bresson, 37–76. Paris: Armand Colin.

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      A fresh account of all relevant big themes in ancient demography from a Greek perspective. Bresson pays due attention to the need to consider the impact of climatic change and its interrelationship with demography and economy (especially the grain imports on which Athens depended).

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      • Clarysse, Willy, and Dorothy Thompson. 2006. Counting the people in Hellenistic Egypt. Vol. 2, Historical Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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        Published together with the capitation-salt-tax papyri (volume 1), this volume focuses on the historical and demographic analysis of these documents. Issues highlighted include population sizes of towns and villages; population density; sex ratios; the demography of slavery; and socioeconomic status differentials. Lacking information on ages and children, the main contribution of these papyri to the study of demography consists in the light they shed on household structures.

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        • Corvisier, Jean-Nicolas, and Wiesław Suder. 2000. La population de l’Antiquité classique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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          Introductory volume in seven chapters, respectively on sources, methods, Greek population size and development, Greek demographic structures (marriage, fertility, and mortality); Roman population size and development; Roman demographic structures; and “Depopulation—myth or reality?” Subject of migration barely touched upon. References and bibliography are limited, and the reader shall be warned that, in some cases, what Corvisier and Suder present as unambiguous fact is a subject of debate among others.

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          • Hin, Saskia. 2013. The demography of Roman Italy: Population dynamics in an ancient conquest society, 201 BCE–14 CE. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511782305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Hin sheds new light on the intensive debate on population trends in Roman Italy (see Macrodemography and Population Trends, Roman), making a case for a “middle count,” in which population size and growth trends fall between the earlier proposed “low” and “high” counts. Her discussion covers theory and a variety of evidence about mortality, fertility, and migration, and connects questions surrounding demographic processes to environmental questions and debates about economic development in Roman antiquity.

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            • Parkin, Tim G. 1992. Demography and Roman society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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              Sharp but fair review of the weaknesses and limitations of ancient demographic evidence and of methodological flaws in overconfident earlier studies. Explains the working of model life tables. Highlights how model life tables and indirect evidence may be used to test and evaluate hypotheses on population structures and dynamics.

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              • Sallares, Robert. 1991. Demography. In The ecology of the ancient Greek world. By Robert Sallares, 42–293. New York: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                Chapter (rather, a book in itself) on demography. Covers population size, mortality, fertility, age class systems, economic and social aspects of family structures, and disease. Emphasis is on the place of populations within, and their interactions with, the ecosystem in the Greek world, an ecosystem that is seen as a force that regulated population through mediating agricultural production. Argues that population in the 4th century BCE had climbed to a level that could not be sustained in the long run.

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                • Stangeland, Charles E. 2012. Pre-Malthusian doctrines of population: A study in the history of economic theory. 21st ed. Charleston, SC: Bibliobooks.

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                  First published in 1904, this volume needs to be approached with some caution. But Stangeland’s work on Greek and Roman perspectives on population (“doctrines,” as he coins them) still forms the best overview on the subject one can get from a single publication. His diachronic perspective, which places Greek and Roman views in a wider historical context, is extremely helpful. Numerous quotations and references to primary sources, both Greek and Roman, included.

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                  Anthologies

                  Two bibliographies that provide entries into older literature are available in book format. The first is Suder 1988, on the Roman world. Literature pertaining to Greek population studies prior to 1996 is collected in Corvisier and Suder 1996, the only other bibliography on the subject of ancient demography. The volume is a useful resource to find older literature. But one may need to search hard, for the bibliographical details have been composed hastily and contain some grave errors (for example, in the introductory chapter, one reference is ascribed to a completely different author than that same reference in the bibliography section; likewise “L.” Bagnall from the introduction has disappeared as a coauthor of The Demography of Roman Egypt in the bibliography section). Anthologies cover more Roman than Greek ground, reflecting the respective prominences of the study areas. De Ligt and Northwood 2008 brings together a large number of distinguished scholars who have touched on the field. While this volume has a more technical outlook, connecting demography mostly with economic and agricultural questions, the more recent volume Holleran and Pudsey 2011 has a more sociological take on population studies, and places greater emphasis on family, fertility, and the lives of migrants. Also focused on Roman demography, the volume Scheidel 2001, intended to provide an overview of the field, includes valuable studies of particular phenomena (urbanization, seasonality of fertility). Scheidel 1996 is not an anthology in the technical sense—all articles are by Scheidel—but the topics covered are so wide ranging yet specialized that it is best described as collection of essays. A broad collection that does cover Greek ground is presented in Bellancourt-Valdher and Corvisier 1999.

                  • Bellancourt-Valdher, Martine, and Jean-Nicolas Corvisier, eds. 1999. La démographie historique antique. Arras, France: Artois Presses Université.

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                    Proceedings of an international conference on the subject. Includes discussions of archaeological (survey) evidence from Greece, Provence, and Belgium. Textual evidence underlies discussions of Athens’ and Egypt’s population sizes. Elite families and parenthood form the subject of four further papers. Contributions by Salmon on birth limitation and by Scheidel on slave demography have been superseded by their subsequent work. Dupâquier concludes the volume by setting out (then) new research directions.

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                    • Corvisier, Jean-Nicolas, and Wiesław Suder. 1996. Polyanthropia, oliganthropia: Bibliographie de la démographie du monde grec. Wrocław, Poland, and Paris: De Boccard.

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                      Bibliography. Alphabetically organized; no summary or critical notes at the referenced works, a (very general) subject index at the back. Includes list of abbreviations used. Has rightly been criticized for its impractical organization and bibliographical errors. Some of the works referred to have been outdated, especially those relating to biodemography. Nevertheless, some of the 1,272 works in this bibliography cannot otherwise be found as efficiently, and the introductory chapter that discusses principal works by theme is a valuable one.

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                      • Holleran, Claire, and April Pudsey, eds. 2011. Demography and the Graeco-Roman world: New insights and approaches. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                        A collection of essays based on an international conference. Includes various case studies (population size of and migration in Athens/Attica; immigration in Ptolemaic Egypt; marriage in Roman Egypt; and fertility in Roman Italy and migration in Rome), as well as three theoretical chapters that provide an efficient entry into the state of the art of the field in the early 21st century.

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                        • De Ligt, Luuk, and Simon Northwood, eds. 2008. People, land and politics: Demographic developments and the transformation of Roman Italy 300 BC–AD 14. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                          Conference volume. Twenty essays on various aspects of the economic, social, and political impact of demographic change in Italy following the dramatic expansion of Roman power. Key themes discussed are demography; census figures and population; survey archaeology and demography; allied manpower and migration; ager publicus; and demography and the end of the Republic. Contributions by many key specialists, both low and high counters (see Macrodemography and Population Trends, Roman), as well as uncommitted. Includes several innovative essays aimed at pushing debate further.

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                          • Scheidel, Walter. 1996. Measuring sex, age, and death in the Roman Empire: Explorations in ancient demography. Journal of Roman Archaeology Suppl. 21. Ann Arbor: Journal of Roman Archaeology.

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                            Scheidel explores four themes, each in a chapter: (1) the biological implications of brother-sister marriage in Roman Egypt, which, if the phenomenon was real (see De Ligt and Northwood 2008 for discussion), were exceptionally marked by historical standards; (2) digit preferences in age records from Roman Egypt, which differ by medium; (3) the demography of the Roman Imperial professional army; and (4) seasonal mortality in the Roman Empire, building further on Scheidel 1994 (cited under Mortality: Seasonality Aspects).

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                            • Scheidel, Walter, ed. 2001. Debating Roman demography. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                              Contributions by some of the main players in the field, discussing how demographic perspectives and methods could aid our understanding of Roman history. Includes an extensive but now somewhat outdated overview of progress and problems in the field by Scheidel himself; Shaw on the seasonal birthing cycle of women; Lo Cascio on conflicting population scenarios; Frier on the implications of population growth, and Alston on urban population in late Roman Egypt.

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                              • Suder, Wiesław. 1988. Census populi: Bibliographie de la démographie de l’antiquité romaine. Bonn: Habelt Verlag.

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                                Valuable bibliography of Roman demography. Organized alphabetically by author, with a subject index in both French and English and a geographical index. Covers work in a wide range of languages across disciplines up to 1986. No critical annotations or review of any of the cited works; the reader has to judge the relevance of cited works by their titles.

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                                Macrodemography and Population Trends, Greek

                                Work on population trends and population size in the Greek world reflects two trends, first, the importance of field surveys in contribution to the debate, and second, a particular attention to the city of Athens, where documentary evidence is concentrated. More on Athens can be found in Regional and Local Studies. Mogens Herman Hansen, who performed key work on Athens, made important general contributions to the study of Greek population size. Hansen employs what he describes as “the shotgun method”: to get to a plausible range estimate, he combines available archaeological evidence with a number of assumptions on additional parameters needed to get from that evidence to an estimate of population size. Additional parameters include the size of the walled territory, the percent built area within the walls, the number of dwellings per hectare, the number of residents per household, and the ratio of urban to rural residents. His method is described in detail in Hansen 2006, and his assumptions are partly updated in Hansen 2008. Hansen’s method is not as unique as his innovative concept suggests: essentially, all population size estimates derived from archaeological survey evidence employ a variant of this approach. Osborne 2004 offers a critical approach in a review of major survey publications. An entire volume on the reconstruction of past population trends from survey evidence in which both critical notes and interdisciplinary approaches found their place is Bintliff and Sbonias 1999. Taking a broader time perspective, and focusing on development rather than size, Scheidel 2003 tries to reconstruct population trends over the first millennium BCE. The author emphasizes that there is no evidence for sudden population explosions, and that gradual expansion could be generated by relatively small modifications in behavior and mortality. A substantial part of the paper is devoted to demonstrating that demographic growth rates cannot be derived from skeletal evidence.

                                • Bintliff, John, and Kostas Sbonias, eds. 1999. Reconstructing past population trends in Mediterranean Europe. The Archaeology of Mediterranean Landscapes 1. Oxford: Oxbow.

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                                  Findings of a large research project, POPULUS, aimed to advance the study of demography by establishing common standards in landscape archaeology. The first part includes a range of papers on how field survey might be used to reconstruct population trends; the second part presents interdisciplinary approaches that include documentary and paleodemographic evidence. Sbonias’s article on the interface between regional survey, historical demography, and paleodemography is very helpful.

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                                  • Hansen, Mogens Herman. 2006. The shotgun method: The demography of the ancient Greek city-state culture. Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press.

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                                    Covering more limited ground than his title suggests, Hansen concentrates on population size, using his “shotgun method.” Combining archaeological evidence with a number of “reasonable assumptions” on parameters such as the number of residents per household, Hansen arrives at a minimum of 7 to 7.5 million Greeks around the time of Alexander, and a more plausible middle count of 8 to 10 million—a figure much higher than previous estimates. Note that in Hansen 2008, Hansen corrects some of his parameters upward.

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                                    • Hansen, Mogens Herman. 2008. An update on the shotgun method. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 48.3: 259–286.

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                                      In an update of Hansen 2006, Hansen confronts his earlier calculations, based on archaeological evidence, with evidence from literary texts. He also critically re-examines three of his earlier assumptions: on household size, on the total number of poleis, and on the distribution of city sizes. Reconsiderations on each of these fronts lead him to argue that the total number of Greeks must have been higher around 324 BCE than he previously argued.

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                                      • Osborne, Robin. 2004. Demography and survey. In Side-by-side survey: Comparative regional studies in the Mediterranean world. Edited by Susan E. Alcock and John F. Cherry, 163–172. Oxford: Oxbow.

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                                        Focus on Greece. Review of major survey publications. Osborne demonstrates how alternative interpretations of the same evidence lead to distinctly different population estimates, and makes clear how “the story we tell hangs to a very large extent upon the assumptions that are imported.” Between published surveys, assumptions on density per hectare and site boundaries vary wildly between different survey areas, without clear defense for these differentials.

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                                        • Scheidel, Walter. 2003. The Greek demographic expansion: Models and comparisons. Journal of Hellenic Studies 123:120–140.

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                                          Attempt at quantifying the expansion of the population of the Greek mainland during the first millennium BCE. Scheidel argues that the lowest plausible net population growth rates for the period between the 10th and 4th centuries BCE is approximately 0.25 to 0.3 percent, and that actual growth was probably higher, but curbed by emigration of mainland Greeks to overseas colonies.

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                                          Regional and Local Studies

                                          There are numerous regional and local studies based on local field survey projects by archaeologists, too many to refer to here. In the current section, focus is on historically oriented papers using literary and documentary evidence. Both Hansen 1985 and Van Wees 2011 focus on Athens, and analyze the evidence about the census by Demetrius of Phaleron in the fourth century BCE, each reaching different conclusions with regard to population size. Van Wees offers a new interpretation of the target groups of this census, emphasizing the financial aims of the undertaking. Rathbone 1990 offers a systematic account of evidence and debate on population size and population trends in Egypt during Greek and Roman reigns.

                                          • Hansen, Mogens Herman. 1985. Demography and democracy: The number of Athenian citizens in the fourth century B.C. Herning, Denmark: Systime.

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                                            Despite its main title, Hansen’s short book focuses quite narrowly on the question how many citizens Attica counted in the 4th century BCE. He argues that there were 25,000 to 30,000 adult male citizens rather than about 20,000. These figures are based on his interpretations of various army figures, the census by Demetrius of Phaleron, and the number of citizens needed to effectively run the Boule.

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                                            • Rathbone, Dominic. 1990. Villages, land and population in Graeco-Roman Egypt. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 36:103–142.

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                                              Overview article discussing literary evidence about (especially Diodoros’s and Josephus’s incompatible claims) as well as indirect ways to estimate population size. Rathbone sees 5 million as “the absolute maximum conceivable.” Also discusses population dynamics; the Antonine Plague; and urbanization and settlement patterns. Includes local evidence about the Oxyrhynchite, Arsinoite, and Mendesian nomes.

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                                              • Van Wees, Hans. 2011. Demetrius and Draco: Athens’ property classes and population in and before 317 BCE. Journal of Hellenic Studies 131:95–114.

                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0075426911000073Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Van Wees offers a new interpretation of the Athenian census by Demetrius of Phaleron in 322 BCE. He argues against Beloch that the census figures refer not to men able to serve, but reflect a full population census and refer to Athenian men above the property qualification; residents without political rights; and household members (wives, children and slaves), respectively. These groups were targeted by the census takers in order to establish which legitimate citizens met the new property qualifications for citizenship.

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                                                Macrodemography and Population Trends, Roman

                                                The size of the population of Roman Italy as well as population trends during the late Republic are at the heart of a massive debate among Roman historians that started in the 19th century and vividly continues to this day. It divides “low counters” and “high counters,” who respectively sketch scenarios of decline and of growth. A sense of what is at stake is best gained by reading Scheidel 2008, which sets out the main stances in the debate, and discusses their wider historical implications. Hin 2015 gives a good idea of the impact of historical contexts on the debate, and offers further arguments for the “middle count” compromise scenario set out in Hin 2013 (cited under General Overviews). One strand of recent scholarship in this debate—that supporting the low count—rests partly on Brunt 1987. Brunt offers little in terms of theoretical demographic framework, and locating information in this massive volume can be hard, but for those who want detail, Brunt provides a wealth of it on any conceivable aspect of Republican evidence about population trends. De Ligt 2012 adduces estimates of city sizes in Italy to support the low count, applying Hansen’s shotgun method to the Italian context. As discussed under Macrodemography and Population Trends, Greek, getting from hectare estimates to population size estimates necessarily requires a number of hypotheses, which in the case of De Ligt’s sample leave room for moderate scenarios other than the low count. The main proponent of the high count is Elio Lo Cascio, who sets out arguments in favor of this viewpoint in, among others, Lo Cascio 1994 and Lo Cascio and Malanima 2005. Kron 2005 and Launaro 2011 support the high count, drawing on historical and archaeological evidence, respectively. In the aptly entitled “More is worse,” Frier 2001 observes that Roman marriage characteristics created a large potential for population growth, and argues that overpopulation could be underlying observed patterns of high mortality.

                                                • Brunt, Peter A. 1987. Italian manpower. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                  Classic account of historical evidence about Italy’s citizen population (especially soldiers) and Roman citizens overseas. Focuses on reconstructing population size and population trends in the light of the impact of warfare during Republican times. A true wealth of detail throughout text, footnotes, and twenty-eight appendices; less attention to theory and conceptual frameworks. First published in 1971.

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                                                  • Frier, Bruce W. 2001. More is worse: Some observations on the population of the Roman Empire. In Debating Roman demography. Mnemosyne Supplement 211. Edited by Walter Scheidel, 139–159. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                    Tries to explain the high levels of mortality inferred from empirical data on various parts of the Roman Empire. While taking account of the impact of external factors such as the quality of medicine and sanitary conditions, Frier sees overpopulation as a realistic possible explanation underlying observed mortality patterns. Low marriage ages for women created, at least in theory, a large potential for population growth.

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                                                    • Hin, Saskia. 2015. Ancient statistics and the rise of demography: A historiography of demographic debate on Roman Italy. In Die politische Kultur und soziale Struktur der römischen Republik: Beiträge einer internationalen Konferenz aus Anlaß des 70. Todestages von Friedrich Münzer, Münster, 20.–22. Oktober 2012. Edited by Matthias Haake and Ann-Cathrin Harders. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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                                                      Adds to Hin’s other arguments (see Hin 2013, cited under General Overviews) that build a case for the eclipsed perspective that the Roman Augustan censuses may have counted citizens sui iuris—or those liable to taxation, regardless of age and sex. Review of census taking throughout history. Reveals how the role of censuses as means to secure state finances, and corresponding interpretations of the Roman censuses, were marginalized in academic debate as nationalism and the concept of citizen-soldiers rose in Europe.

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                                                      • Kron, Geoffrey. 2005. The Augustan census figures and the population of Italy. Athenaeum 93.2: 441–495.

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                                                        Makes a case to support Lo Cascio’s high population count. Kron holds the belief, among others, that Roman authorities deliberately frustrated the censuses after Sulla to prevent new citizens from gaining rights and that citizens had to travel to Rome for registration. Hence massive underregistration of citizens at the end of the Republic, and higher actual population totals that are consistent with interpreting the subsequent Augustan totals as representing adult male citizens only.

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                                                        • Launaro, Alessandro. 2011. Peasants and slaves: The rural population of Roman Italy (200 BC to AD 100). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                          Launaro unites evidence from twenty-seven archaeological surveys (about 5,000 sites), and develops a comparative methodology to advance debate over population trends and population size in Roman Italy. Launaro focuses on changes in trends. His final conclusion, namely, that these findings support the high-count scenario, is open to debate, as biases in his underlying assumptions tend to converge in inflating suggested growth rates (see Hin 2013, cited under General Overviews, and the book review by Scheidel in JRA/the Journal of Roman Archaeology 2013).

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                                                          • De Ligt, Luuk. 2012. Peasants, citizens and soldiers: Studies in the demographic history of Roman Italy 225 BC–AD 10. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                            De Ligt presents a revision of the low-count model. The historical-philological arguments adduced in chapters 2 and 3 that serve to make the point that population size prior to the Second Punic War might have been lower than previously thought, and hence leave room for subsequent population growth, are not conclusive. De Ligt’s more important contribution lies in applying the shotgun method of Hansen 2006 and Hansen 2008 (both cited under Macrodemography and Population Trends, Greek) to the cities of Roman Italy.

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                                                            • Lo Cascio, Elio. 1994. The size of the Roman population: Beloch and the meaning of the Augustan census figures. Journal of Roman Studies 84:24–40.

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                                                              Lo Cascio criticizes Beloch’s “low count”—the idea that the Republican censuses represented all adult males, whereas the Augustan ones would refer to the entire free population of Italy. The author considers it implausible that between 70 and 28 BCE, the free-citizen population of Italy shrank, or underregistration increased, to the extent required to support Beloch’s interpretation of the leap in preserved population numbers.

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                                                              • Lo Cascio, Elio, and Paolo Malanima. 2005. Cycles and stability: Italian population before the demographic transition. Rivista di Storia Economica 21.3: 5–40.

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                                                                Clearly and succinctly summarizes Lo Cascio’s high-count estimate of Italy’s population and adds a discussion of its agricultural carrying capacity to the argument. Holds that population size and density fluctuated around a long-term average of about 10 million inhabitants, in a range of 7 to 16 million from the 3rd century BCE until the 18th century. A main reason for this lay in the limitations that the agricultural economy posited to carrying capacity.

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                                                                • Scheidel, Walter. 2008. Roman population size: The logic of the debate. In People, land, and politics: Demographic developments and the transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC–AD 14. Edited by Luuk De Ligt and Simon Northwood, 17–70. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                  An extensive review of scholarship on population size and population trends in Roman Italy. Scheidel highlights the weaknesses of both the high and low counts. Addresses issues regarding the implications of both models for, and their compatibility with, (1) urbanization and mobilization rates; (2) the functioning of the labor market (forced-free labor); (3) political instability; (4) evidence about living standards; (5) findings of field surveys; and (6) carrying capacity. Ends by encouraging exploration of alternative readings and compromise models.

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                                                                  Regional and Local Studies

                                                                  The studies referred to in this section concentrate on regional and local matters relating to population size: either in the provinces of the Roman Empire or in the city of Rome. Le Teuff 2014 does not address the issue of population size directly, but the author’s work on the provinces is important to Roman demographers because it is the first to systematically look into evidence for (the aims of) census taking in the provinces. Her findings, presented only partly in this article, impinge on the low- versus high-count debate discussed in Macrodemography and Population Trends, Roman. Concerned directly with reconstructing the size of the population of the city of Rome, Lo Cascio 1997, Morley 2013, and Storey 1997 have implications for debates on Italy’s population size as well as for debates on the impact of Migration. In addition to this limited list, an enormous range of papers on individual cities, settlements, or regions are available—too many to be referred to in this context, but worth searching for by readers seeking to study a particular locality.

                                                                  • Le Teuff, Béatrice. 2014. Les recensements augustéens, aux origines de l’Empire. Pallas: Revue d’Études Antiques 96:75–90.

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                                                                    Le Teuff offers the first systematic studies of the Roman Imperial censuses in the provinces beyond the Egyptian case. In this article, focusing on Sicily, Asia, and Pontus and Bithynia, Le Teuff argues that the provincial censuses were intended as an instrument to effectively organize taxation on the basis of equal distribution. Literary and documentary evidence shows that in recently urbanized provinces, officers were appointed to control the process. Preexisting census and tax collection structures were adapted to fit the Roman model.

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                                                                    • Lo Cascio, Elio. 1997. Le procedure di recensus dalla tarda repubblica al tardo antico e il calcolo della popolazione di Roma. In La Rome impériale: Démographie et logistique; Collection École française de Rome 230; Actes de la table ronde, Rome, 25 March 1994. 3–76. Rome, École française de Rome.

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                                                                      On recensuses in the city of Rome from Caesar onward. Lo Cascio argues—against others—that from then on a decentralization of the Roman census system took place. Citizens could now register locally, with better census coverage as a result. The recensus was held more frequently than the five-yearly censuses, and identified the frumentarii, or people with the right to receive a share of the grain distributions. Also discusses attempts to reconstruct urban population size from this evidence.

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                                                                      • Morley, Neville. 2013. Population size and social structure. In The Cambridge companion to ancient Rome. Edited by Paul Erdkamp, 29–44. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                        Discussion of the indirect evidence for population size in the city of Rome: (1) the number of residential buildings (domus and insulae) in the regionary catalogues and the forma urbis Romae, combined by areal estimates; (2) figures on grain imports and distributions and (3) water supply figures. All require multipliers to get to population figures (on household size, per capita consumption, and the ratio of grain recipients/non-recipients), a complication that creates the risk of special pleading, against which Morley rightly warns.

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                                                                        • Storey, Glenn R. 1997. The population of ancient Rome. Antiquity 71:966–978.

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                                                                          Storey revises estimates of Rome’s population size which mostly hold that the city counted close to a million inhabitants, down to half a million. Bases his conclusions on street-by-street evidence for Ostia. Whether its population density can legitimately be used as a proxy, and whether Rome’s urban sprawl is sufficiently accounted for by choosing the Aurelian Walls as a boundary, however, is questionable. Questions surrounding the number of inhabitants of a single housing unit add further uncertainty to Storey’s estimate.

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                                                                          Mortality

                                                                          Various articles are devoted to one specific type of source material relating to mortality. Frier 1982 discusses what is known as “Ulpian’s life table” but is, in fact, most likely an annuity table. Hopkins 1987 discusses the large body of funerary inscriptions with ages-at-death and explains why these statistics are not reliable indicators of mortality rates and life expectancy. Scheidel 1999 focuses on literary evidence about members of the Roman elite. Evidence about the life expectancy of ordinary citizens, derived from census records preserved under the desert conditions of Roman Egypt, was discussed first in Bagnall and Frier 2006 (first published in 1994) (cited under General Overviews). Scheidel 2001b used the same evidence of the Roman census records from Egypt to perform more detailed analyses. Questions of heterogeneity in life expectancy by sex and by location of residence (urban-rural) are addressed, but the evidence cannot provide firm answers. In a “what do we really know”–style article, Scheidel 2001a provides an overview of different types of sources and models that have been used to draw inferences on life expectancy in the ancient world and the limitations of each of these. On the modeling side, advances beyond that are presented in Woods 2007 and in Hin 2013 (cited under General Overviews), studies that evaluate new, empirically based model life tables for low-life-expectancy populations that became available after Frier 1982, Bagnall and Frier 2006 (cited under General Overviews), and Scheidel 2001a and Scheidel 2001b. The impact of mortality on family life is discussed in Saller 1994, the author of which collaborated with the then very active Cambridge Population History Group to implement a microsimulation model that revealed how many, and which type of, kin or household members would still be alive at age x of an individual. Saller’s work showed the full and dramatic extent of the impact of mortality, and undermined the accepted idea that Roman society was strongly patriarchal. A minor shortcoming is that the simulation was set to remarry all men up to sixty and all women up to fifty who had lost their spouses. As Saller was well aware (p. 68), this is not a very credible scenario, and one would have to see the impact and implications of setting this parameter at a more realistic lower level. The death toll demanded by epidemics in urban environments is the subject of Paine and Storey 2006. Note that Morbidity in Large Cities contains references to work that likewise focuses on urban environments, but is concerned more with living conditions and morbidity than with average ages at death. Finally, Virlouvet 1997 discusses the question whether or not Romans kept registers of death.

                                                                          • Frier, Bruce W. 1982. Roman life expectancy: Ulpian’s evidence. Classical Philology 86:213–251.

                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/311195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Frier discusses an excerpt in Justinian’s Digest on inheritance taxes. He believes that the text can be interpreted as an annuity scheme, and provides a rough estimate of the legatee’s expectation of life at various ages (corresponding to Coale and Demeny West level 2). Contextual evidence, however, is limited, and it remains unclear on what data Ulpian’s calculations were based, and for which subsection(s) of the population they would hold.

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                                                                            • Hopkins, Keith. 1987. Graveyards for historians. In La mort, les morts et l’au-delà dans le monde romain: Actes du colloque de Caen, 20–22 Novembre 1985. Edited by François Hinard, 113–126. Caen, France: Université de Caen.

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                                                                              Hopkins analyzes the potential for mortality studies of a body of 43,000 ages at death derived from 180,000 epitaphs chiseled on tombstones from the Western Roman Empire. His question: are they sound evidence for calculating mean ages at death? The answer, very convincingly, and to the detriment of numerous scholars who had tried to do so before: no. Hopkins explains to the reader in a remarkably clear vein from which biases the epitaphs suffer, and why these biases are not correctable.

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                                                                              • Paine, Richard R., and Glenn R. Storey. 2006. Epidemics, age at death, and mortality in ancient Rome. In Urbanism in the preindustrial world: Cross-cultural approaches. Edited by Glenn R. Storey, 69–85. Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press.

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                                                                                Matrix model projection of the impact of plague on age distributions in Rome. Results are compared to time trends in the average age-at-death on gravestones. Paine and Storey conclude that the latter may partly reflect the impact of the Antonine Plague, and/or biases in the age distribution of funerary inscriptions. A further concern about the validity of the comparison: their model is tailored to reflect demographic characteristics of the general population, whereas the inscriptions primarily reflect those of freed slaves.

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                                                                                • Saller, Richard P. 1994. Patriarchy, property and death in the Roman family. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511582998Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Seminal work that undercuts the dominant view that Roman fathers had a firm patriarchal and authoritarian hold over their families. Saller uses various qualitative sources to support his argument. From a demographic point of view, it is its highly innovative use of microsimulation methods that makes this book a vital one. With the help of this approach, Saller shows that before they reached adulthood, most Romans lost their fathers to the combined forces of mortality and high ages at fatherhood.

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                                                                                  • Scheidel, Walter. 1999. Emperors, aristocrats, and the Grim Reaper: Towards a demographic profile of the Roman élite. Classical Quarterly 49.1: 254–281.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/cq/49.1.254Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Brings together literary evidence about various elite groups: emperors (and their wives and daughters) who died of natural causes, and indirect evidence about the survival of senators and council members. The evidence suggests their life expectancies at birth fell somewhere within the range of twenty to thirty. Sex-specific counts of (surviving) offspring among imperial families are consistent with reproduction at replacement level, and do not provide evidence for widespread (sex-specific) family limitation. The evidence may hint at changes over time.

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                                                                                    • Scheidel, Walter. 2001a. Roman age structure: Evidence and models. Journal of Roman Studies 91:1–26.

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                                                                                      Update of Hopkins earlier idea that life expectancy at birth was between twenty and thirty. Scheidel argues that current attempts to reconstruct life expectancy from empirical age distributions on census papyri through linkage with model life tables have not advanced beyond that point. A main problem: existing model life tables rely on predictions, not empirical evidence, for low-life-expectancy populations. They do not represent the full scale of variation in age structure, and matches between evidence and model may be coincidental.

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                                                                                      • Scheidel, Walter. 2001b. Death on the Nile: Disease and the demography of Roman Egypt. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                        Most extensive treatment of disease and death in Roman Egypt. Discusses the importance of local disease ecologies and diseases driving patterns of seasonal mortality. Scheidel also provides an in-depth critical analysis of the findings of Bagnall and Frier 2006 (cited under General Overviews) on age structure and mortality in Roman Egypt. On population size, Scheidel argues that conditions in Roman times were favorable compared to those in the 19th century, and that a higher population total of 5 to 7 million is feasible.

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                                                                                        • Virlouvet, Catherine. 1997. Existait-il des registres de décès à Rome au Ier siècle ap. J.-C. ? In La Rome Impériale: Démographie et logistique; Collection École française de Rome 230; Actes de la table ronde, Rome, 25 March 1994. 77–88. Rome, École française de Rome.

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                                                                                          Contra Parkin, Virlouvet argues that Italian cities most likely had official death registers for adult men, like in Roman Egypt. While Parkin had interpreted the ratio Libitinae referred to in Suetonius as a temporary response to an epidemic crisis, Virlouvet considers it more likely that such “registers of the deceased” were regular practice. Her argument is largely an inferential one: the functioning of certain administrative services—the grain dole and the water concessions system—would imply their presence and use.

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                                                                                          • Woods, Bob. 2007. Ancient and early modern mortality: Experience and understanding. Economic History Review 60.2: 373–399.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2006.00367.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Important to our understanding of life expectancy. Demographer Woods creates a new set of life tables on the basis of empirical evidence about low-life-expectancy populations. His conclusion: for low-life-expectancy populations, infant mortality was previously overestimated, while adult mortality was underestimated. The evidence from Ulpian’s “life table” fits the new models reasonably well. For the fit of the Roman census evidence with Woods’s life table and more recently published African life tables, see Hin 2013 (cited under General Overviews).

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                                                                                            Seasonality Aspects

                                                                                            Deaths tend not to be evenly distributed across the year. Their monthly distribution varies across time and space, and so does the intensity of fluctuations in monthly death rates. Scheidel 1994 and Shaw 1996 look into the phenomenon, establishing patterns and discussing potential underlying causes. Note that one of the articles in Scheidel 1996 (cited under Anthologies) builds further on Scheidel 1994. Both use Christian epitaphs from Rome, which include individuals from the lower social classes. For religious reasons, Christians started to record exact dates of death, an innovation that allows scholars to establish monthly variations in mortality. While Scheidel focuses on the city of Rome, Shaw also discusses evidence from the Nile Valley and the Western provinces of the Roman Empire—evidence that shows the impact of environmental conditions on regional mortality patterns.

                                                                                            • Scheidel, Walter. 1994. Libitina’s bitter gains: Seasonal mortality and endemic disease in the ancient city of Rome. Ancient Society 25:151–175.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.2143/AS.25.0.2005846Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Scheidel focuses on discussing conceivable causes for the observed pattern of seasonal mortality, in a sample of 2,714 inscriptions from Christian Rome. It is highly likely, he argues, that the late-summer peak in mortality was driven largely by intestinal and pulmonary infections, with typhoid and tuberculosis dominant among the latter. The mortality peak was aggravated by malaria, a disease that also contributed to the lethal outcome of other diseases

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                                                                                              • Shaw, Brent D. 1996. Seasons of death: Aspects of mortality in Imperial Rome. Journal of Roman Studies 86:100–138.

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                                                                                                Uses a larger sample of 3,943 Christian burials from Rome (1st to 4th centuries CE). Seasonal variation is high, thus pointing to the impact of infectious diseases, in part spurred by adverse sanitary and nutritional conditions. The seasonality of death across the population as a whole is marked by a single peak in the late summer and fall, but for the elderly and children below four the late winter formed another risk period.

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                                                                                                Infant Mortality Risk

                                                                                                It is a distinctive feature of low-life-expectancy populations that the deaths of newly born and very young children form a large share of all deaths. Variations in the level of infant mortality risks are a key driver of life expectancy differences between populations and subpopulations in high mortality regimes. Hence the particular attention to infant mortality risks in antiquity. The roles of exposure and infanticide receive emphasis in the contribution by Harris 1994. Evans Grubbs 2013 is a great source for further references to the larger debate of which Harris forms part. The contribution of Parkin 2013 focuses on resistance to natural causes of death. Note that forms of family limitation prior to the birth of a child (including abortion) are referred to under Fertility, Reproduction, and Fertility Limitation.

                                                                                                • Evans Grubbs, Judith. 2013. Infant exposure and infanticide. In The Oxford handbook of childhood and education in the classical world. Edited by Judith Evans Grubbs, Tim Parkin, and Roslynne Bell, 83–107. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199781546.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Lucid overview with references to all earlier key works on these heavily debated topics (which we hence choose not to present here). While earlier core contributions focused on the questions of gender bias in both infant exposure and infanticide and the extent to which infanticide was practiced and demographically sustainable, Evans Grubbs approaches the topic from a social history perspective. Includes evidence suggesting that children were at higher risk without a father present.

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                                                                                                  • Harris, William V. 1994. Child exposure in the Roman Empire. Journal of Roman Studies 84:1–22.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/300867Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Historicizes child exposure, among others, by pointing to the low age at first marriage of Roman women, a factor that would have favored a high gross reproduction rate (GRR). Harris argues that most abandoned children would have died, and that child exposure was used as a favored means to control fertility because it permitted sex selection, while he admits that evidence for sex-specific exposure is thin. Extensively discusses parental incentives and motives for abandoning a newborn.

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                                                                                                    • Parkin, Tim. 2013. The demography of infancy and early childhood in the ancient world. In The Oxford handbook of childhood and education in the classical world. Edited by Judith Evans Grubbs, Tim Parkin, and Roslynne Bell, 40–61. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199781546.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Particular emphasis on evidence for infant feeding practices (breastfeeding versus alternatives, including wet nursing) and their impact on infant mortality risks.

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                                                                                                      Morbidity and Health

                                                                                                      Grmek 1989 is the classic on the disease front; Sallares 2002 is the key to all we know about malaria in ancient Rome. Since Grmek and Sallares’s work, and that found in Garnsey 1999, a quickly expanding number of bioarchaeological studies have started to describe the health status of ancient populations, discussing particular diseases, health conditions, and the relationship between diet and health. These studies tend to focus on skeletons from single graveyards; Kron 2012 is one of the few attempts to synthesize work; Scheidel 2012 also draws this material into historical debate. Given the rapid developments in this subfield, we advise the reader to keep close track. Epidemics, especially the so-called Antonine Plague, have attracted wide attention; the edited volume Lo Cascio 2012 presents the most recent take on its impact and nature. Little 2007 focuses on the Justinianic Plague. The importance of ecology in shaping disease environment is borne out in Sallares 1991 (cited under General Overviews). On living conditions in ancient Rome—matters intricately linked with morbidity and health among its urban population—see Morbidity in Large Cities. Heterogeneity in morbidity and health has attracted attention mainly among bioarchaeologists, who have shown interest in variation by sex and age. In the historical debate, socioeconomic status has been conspicuously absent as a dimension of heterogeneity.

                                                                                                      • Garnsey, Peter. 1999. Food and society in classical antiquity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612534Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        On nutrition, famines, health status. Garnsey presents a range of both literary and archaeological evidence (the latter now largely extended, but not as of yet synthesized) on the diet and health status of ordinary inhabitants of the ancient world. Also discusses the allocation of food within families, and inequality of access to food beyond grains, pulses, and vegetables.

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                                                                                                        • Grmek, Mirko. D. 1989. Diseases in the ancient Greek world. Translated by Mireille and Leonard Muellner. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                          Translation of Les maladies à l’aube de la civilisation occidentale: Recherches sur la réalité pathologique dans le monde grec préhistorique, archaïque et classique. (Paris: Payot, 1983). Encyclopedic work that presents a wealth of detail on diseases, drawing on literary evidence and skeletal material as well as medical knowledge. Does not, however, pay much attention to the wider social context in which diseases arose and flourished. Criticized for its underdeveloped theoretical approach.

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                                                                                                          • Kron, Geoffrey. 2012. Nutrition, hygiene and mortality: Setting parameters for Roman health and life expectancy consistent with our comparative evidence. In L’impatto della “Pesta Antonina.” Edited by Elio Lo Cascio, 193–252. Bari, Italy: Edipuglia.

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                                                                                                            Argues that a life expectancy at birth of between twenty and thirty as suggested by ancient evidence is unrealistically low. Kron instead sees (higher) life expectancies for working classes in later Europe as a lower limit for Romans. While his arguments on respective water quality and (attitudes to) hygiene provide fresh and compelling insights, it seems doubtful whether their quantitative backing by evidence about Roman heights and nutritional status will withstand further data collection and methodological developments in this field.

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                                                                                                            • Little, Lester K., ed. 2007. Plague and the end of Antiquity: The pandemic of 541–750. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                              Regional case studies look at evidence about the Justinianic Plague, its development and impact across the Near East, the Byzantine Empire and the Latin West (Gaul, Spain, England, and Ireland). All agree that its impact was severe: it formed a catalyst exacerbating process of social and economic decline already in progress. Two final papers by Sallares and McCormick add epidemiological perspectives, both suggesting the plague was Y. pestis.

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                                                                                                              • Lo Cascio, Elio, ed. 2012. L’impatto della “Peste Antonina.” Bari, Italy: Edipuglia.

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                                                                                                                Proceedings of a conference on the Antonine Plague. Thirteen contributions on the subject highlight its demographic impact in general (Andorlini, Bruun, Zelener, Livi Bacci, Paine and Storey) and on the army (Eck, Jones); the economy and living standards (Jongman, Kron, Scheidel, Malanima); possible connections with severe famine (Storchi Marino) and climatic deterioration (Rossignol); agreement on smallpox as its cause; and a comparison with the Justinian Plague (Marcone). Harris showcases both progress and pain points in his reviewing conclusion.

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                                                                                                                • Sallares, Robert. 2002. Malaria and Rome: A history of malaria in ancient Italy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248506.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Collects available literary evidence about fevers and combines it with microbiology and medical history perspectives to write a history of malaria in Italy. Includes a demographic chapter in which Sallares discusses the interaction of malaria with other diseases and with malnutrition, and demonstrates its devastating impact on life expectancy and health in regions affected by endemic malaria. Sees the seasonality of mortality in Rome as shaped by (synergistic effects of) malaria.

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                                                                                                                  • Scheidel, Walter. 2012. Physical wellbeing in the Roman world. In The Cambridge companion to the Roman economy. Edited by Walter Scheidel, 321–333. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    This paper presents and discusses evidence of physical well-being in the Roman period. It covers life expectancy, mortality patterns, and skeletal evidence such as body height, cranial lesions, and dental defects. The data reveal both commonalities and significant regional variation within the Roman Empire.

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                                                                                                                    Morbidity in Large Cities

                                                                                                                    The publications in this section reflect a large debate on the impact of life in large urban environments on individuals’ health status. Lo Cascio 2006 forms the tip of the iceberg on the so-called “urban graveyard effect” (population density as leading to increased morbidity and mortality in cities), on which more can be found in Hin 2013 (cited under General Overviews). Discussion concentrates on the question of how detrimental large concentrations of people were to morbidity. Answers are linked to scholars’ understanding of the hygiene and general living conditions in ancient cities, and Lo Cascio 2006 and Scobie 1986 reflect opposing viewpoints on this front. Morley 2005 lucidly describes the historiography of this debate in an article that calls for more sophisticated comparative approaches than Scobie’s. Lo Cascio 2006 also warns against invalid comparisons, while Courier 2014 critically investigates Scobie’s tenets on hygiene and general living conditions in the city of Rome.

                                                                                                                    • Courier, Cyril. 2014. La ville comme facteur de distinction. In La plèbe de Rome et sa culture: Fin du IIe siècle av. J.-C –fin du Ier siècle ap. J.-C. Rome. By Cyril Courier. 27–125. Rome, École française de Rome.

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                                                                                                                      The first chapter of this massive dissertation addresses the urban graveyard effect. In a meticulous and clear analysis, Courier addresses four aspects of urban quality of life: diet, housing, access to and quality of water, and sanitation of the urban environment. Courier concludes that Rome had exceptionally good living conditions for a pre-industrial city, and that there was no urban graveyard effect in the classic sense of the concept.

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                                                                                                                      • Lo Cascio, Elio. 2006. Did the population of Imperial Rome reproduce itself? In Urbanism in the preindustrial world: Cross-cultural approaches. Edited by Glenn R. Storey, 52–68. Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press.

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                                                                                                                        Lo Cascio argues against the notion that the residential population suffered from natural decrease. Points out that evidence about London makes for a bad comparison, and demonstrates that the cities prior to the demographic transition display a variety of scenarios. Challenges the picture presented by Scobie 1986. Lo Cascio holds that the living conditions of the plebs frumentaria were good enough to allow these residents of Rome to reproduce themselves periodically but not consistently during Imperial times.

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                                                                                                                        • Morley, Neville. 2005. The salubriousness of the Roman city. In Health in antiquity. Edited by Helen King, 192–204. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.4324/9780203323847Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Describes the two contrasting historiographical traditions in which Rome is seen either as an urban dystopia or utopia for health. Morley emphasizes ways in which Romans tried to respond to health hazards, and argues that inhabitants of ancient Rome were exposed to fewer pathogens than their later counterparts from medieval until early modern times. Living conditions in “the typical Roman city” were quite possibly healthier, and cities certainly less squalid.

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                                                                                                                          • Scobie, Alex. 1986. Slums, sanitation, and mortality in the Roman world. Klio 68:399–433.

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                                                                                                                            Seminal, often cited article—the first to investigate what role environmental factors and public health standards might have played in shaping the Roman urban mortality regime. Scobie draws a grim picture of dirty streets overpopulated by people living in squalid conditions. His choice to set Roman conditions against 1979 United Kingdom standards does not help to provide an understanding of its performance relative to other pre-industrial cities.

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                                                                                                                            Fertility, Reproduction, and Fertility Limitation

                                                                                                                            A hotly debated topic concerns the question whether or not the ancient world experienced a rapid transition from a situation in which women on average had high numbers of offspring spread across their fecund life, to one in which they had distinctively fewer children, with a clearly visible “cutting off” point after a certain desired number, before the end of a woman’s fecund life. Historians of later periods have connected the term “fertility transition” to the 19th-century phenomenon of rapid fertility decline. Could such a decline have also occurred long before? Raepsaet 1973 uses evidence from the Greek orators to look at fertility levels, but methodological errors invalidate his conclusions. For a better methodology used on similar data, see Scheidel 1999 (cited under Mortality) on the fertility of Roman Imperial families. Frier 1994 demonstrates that what ancient empirical evidence exists points to a “natural fertility regime” (even if that term is unhappily chosen), and discusses likely total fertility rates in Roman Egypt. Hin 2011 dismantles Brunt’s arguments on fertility decline in the Roman Italian context. Both works undermine the conclusions in Riddle 1992 on fertility levels. But Riddle’s work on ancient source material relating to contraceptives and abortifacients, or what were perceived as such, has independent value. Salmon 1999 covers a wide range of issues relating to fertility but does not provide the easiest entry to debates for those without background knowledge; a better choice, in that case, is Eyben 1980–1981. Shaw 2001 reconstructs seasonal patterns of birth among Christian women (the evidence does not permit this exercise for pre-Christian periods). Betzig 1992 focuses on fertility outside the marital context. In Tacoma 2006, we see how the social and economic reproduction of elites in Roman Egypt was threatened by the demographic challenge of low life expectancy.

                                                                                                                            • Betzig, Laura. 1992. Roman polygyny. Ethology and Sociobiology 13:309–349.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/0162-3095(92)90008-RSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Article in which Betzig focuses on reproduction outside of marriage, paying attention to slaves made pregnant by aristocratic men in particular. Also discusses the nature of the relationship between the children born out of these sexual relationships and their natural fathers. Betzig empathizes the contrast between this polygynous reproductive behavior and Roman monogamous marriage behavior. For her take on the latter, see Betzig 1992, cited under Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood.

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                                                                                                                              • Eyben, Emiel. 1980–1981. Family planning in Graeco-Roman antiquity. Ancient Society 11–12:5–82.

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                                                                                                                                Extensive article with a great many citations of primary sources. Discusses contraception, abortion, infanticide, and exposure, as well as attitudes to these phenomena as derived from evidence about law, philosophy, public opinion, and religion (Graeco-Roman, Judaic, and Christian). Eyben argues that abortion and contraception were preferred methods of the elite, whereas ordinary citizens sought resort to abandonment. Rates varying in time and place, family limitation was driven primarily by social and economic pressures; its victims were girls, deformed children, and illegitimate infants.

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                                                                                                                                • Frier, Bruce W. 1994. Natural fertility and family limitation in Roman marriage. Classical Philology 89:318–333.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/367430Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Explains the phenomenon of “natural fertility,” as coined by Henry, with attention for its heterogeneity in appearance across (historical) societies. Demonstrates that the age-specific fertility pattern of women in Roman Egypt complies with this pattern. Detailed, spot-on critique of earlier work by Riddle 1992, which argued for widespread fertility limitation leading to population decline in the Greco-Roman world. This paper refers extensively to earlier work by Eyben 1980–1981.

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                                                                                                                                  • Hin, Saskia. 2011. Family matters: Fertility and its constraints in Roman Italy. In Demography and the Graeco-Roman world: New insights and approaches. Edited by Claire Holleran and April Pudsey, 99–116. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511863295Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    With the help of demographic theory, Hin re-evaluates the hypothesis of the occurrence of a fertility decline in Roman republican Italy and dismisses it. It is unlikely that fertility limitation spread beyond the upper classes. Census data on ordinary citizens in Roman Egypt confirm this notion. Micro-economic perspectives, including Caldwell’s Wealth Flows Theory, are unable to fully explain fertility desires. Importantly, culture (idealization of motherhood), the socioeconomic position of women (lack of alternatives), and biology jointly encouraged reproduction.

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                                                                                                                                    • Raepsaet, Georges. 1973. A propos de l’utilisation de statistiques en demographie grecque: Le nombre d’enfants par famille. L’Antiquité Classique 42:536–543.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.3406/antiq.1973.1720Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Raepsaet rightly dismisses inscriptions as a source for deriving fertility. Instead, he collects evidence from Greek orators that relates to 126 family trials. On their basis, he suggests that Athenian families counted 2.14 children on average. Raepsaet’s methodology, however, is problematic: (1) as he recognizes, daughters are underrepresented in the evidence, in which sons outnumber them by three to one; (2) fathers who had died without surviving heirs, observed “assez fréquemment,” were excluded. Raepsaet’s conclusions are invalid, but the data remain interesting.

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                                                                                                                                      • Riddle, John M. 1992. Contraception and abortion from the ancient world to the Renaissance. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                        Chapters on the ancient world present a collection of interesting literary sources on contraceptives and abortifacients. Modern clinical work suggests some chemical components of plants would indeed have suppressed risk at, or aborted a, pregnancy if properly used. Even if so, Riddle’s conclusions that their use would have significantly contributed to birth control and cause low overall fertility in the ancient world overlook the first two of three prerequisites for fertility decline in Coale’s “ready, willing and able” framework.

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                                                                                                                                        • Salmon, Pierre. 1999. La limitation des naissances dans la societé romaine. Brussels: Latomus.

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                                                                                                                                          Concise work on issues relating to contraception, abortion, infanticide, infant exposure, and voluntary continence in the Roman world; these topics form the themes of the chapters. The strength of this volume lies in the wide range of source material cited. Scholarly debates on each of these phenomena are less well addressed; for that reason not recommendable for readers with no or little background knowledge who seek more systematic guidance into the subject.

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                                                                                                                                          • Shaw, Brent. 2001. The seasonal birthing cycle of Roman women. In Debating Roman demography. Edited by Walter Scheidel, 83–111. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                            Reconstructs seasonal patterns of birth from dates of death and duration of life in days on 1,447 Christian grave inscriptions. Births peaked during the months of December and January for the city of Rome, and reached lows in between smaller spikes for May and August. Outside of Rome, births peaked more pronouncedly, and did so in February and March. A mixture of environmental factors and cultural (religious) norms seems to be responsible for this pattern.

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                                                                                                                                            • Tacoma, Laurens E. 2006. Fragile hierarchies: The urban elites of third-century Roman Egypt. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                              Partly on demography, this book analyzes papyrological evidence to demonstrate that the elite’s fertility and mortality patterns did not diverge from that of the ordinary population of Roman Egypt. In combination with a partible inheritance system, the high-pressure demographic regime made hierarchies fragile throughout, and created high turnover rates in elite membership.

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                                                                                                                                              Marriage and Family Studies

                                                                                                                                              Two general volumes may be read on marriage and the family before proceeding to more specific aspects of this wide-ranging area. Rawson 2011 forms a broad-ranging introduction into the subject, with attention also for the family life of groups often neglected: soldiers, slaves, and migrants. Edmondson 2014 is very comprehensive and provides a quick general idea in twenty-three pages of what questions are being raised in the field. The author does so from an explicitly epigraphic orientation. The aim of Garland 1990 is to cover the life course from beginning to end, from birth to death. The study focuses on Greece. Parkin 2003 sheds light on the challenges that the elderly faced to maintain their position, both within the family and in society at large. Parkin discusses, among other topics, the link between the vulnerable economic and legal position of the elderly and their declining productivity. Finally, Rosenstein 2004 highlights how the family life of the largest share of Italy’s population, that of farmers, was affected by and adapted to conscription for war during the Republican period.

                                                                                                                                              • Edmondson, Jonathan. 2014. Roman family history. In The Oxford handbook of Roman epigraphy. Edited by Christer Bruun and Jonathan Edmonson, 559–582. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195336467.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                What can inscriptional evidence teach us on family life in the Roman world? Edmondson provides a comprehensive answer to this question, taking into account the limitations of the evidence as well as recent developments in the field. He draws attention to often overlooked evidence and studies on mixed marriages, on concubinage and on hospitium relationships as alternatives to marriage, and on frequently attested illegitimate children. We are reminded of what shapes deviances of the norm of “universal marriage” could take.

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                                                                                                                                                • Garland, Robert. 1990. The Greek way of life: From conception to old age. London: Duckworth.

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                                                                                                                                                  Qualitative approach that focuses on Greek, mostly classical Athenian, perceptions of the life course. Each of the chapters of the book looks into a particular life stage: pre-birth; birth; young children; coming of age; early adulthood; and old age. Touches upon (aspects of) population policy; marriage, divorce, and other transitions between life stages; and life expectancy.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Parkin, Tim G. 2003. Old age in the Roman world: A cultural and social history. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                    Wide-ranging demographic, social, economic, and legal study of (the position of) the elderly. Separate chapters on old age, marriage, and sexuality and on aging and the Roman family. Estimates of the proportion of elderly; the link between their (vulnerable) economic and legal position and the notion of diminishing productivity; and rules of age and the context-dependent importance of exact representation of age.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Rawson, Beryl, ed. 2011. A companion to families in the Greek and Roman worlds. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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                                                                                                                                                      A mixture of established specialists and young scholars introduce the subject, centered around five main themes: houses and households; kinship, marriage, parents, and children; the legal side; city and country; and ritual, commemoration, and values. Includes many chapters of high interest to demography. Unfortunately, at times the desire to cover subjects we know little about is pushed too far: for the untrained reader it will be hard to distinguish between fact and speculation, in, for example, the chapter on families in the Roman countryside.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Rosenstein, Nathan. 2004. Rome at war: Farms, families, and death in the Middle Republic. Chapel Hill and London: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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                                                                                                                                                        On how farming and warfare were integrated in Italy in the third and second centuries BCE, and on how farming families adapted to military conscription of family members. Rosenstein forcefully argues against the traditional view that Roman smallholders fought for their own displacement by slave-run plantations. Late male marriage and chronic underemployment in farming contributed to making the combination of warfare and farming sustainable.

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                                                                                                                                                        Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood

                                                                                                                                                        Marriage is a particularly popular research topic studied from different angles. Anthropologist Laura Betzig in Betzig 1992 chooses a perspective not often adopted in the field: she looks at marriage in the light of Darwinian theory and brings in wide-ranging comparisons. Controversial as the choice of this approach might be to many in the field, her argument provides a fresh perspective with considerable appeal. Inspired by Betzig, Scheidel 2009 investigates how and why Greek and Roman monogamy arose in a context in which polygyny was the global norm. Also taking a comparative perspective, Evans Grubbs 1994 critically investigates the dominant view that pre-Christian and Christian marriage customs differed markedly. Veyne 1978 argues that there was a transition in marriage norms and approaches, but that it had taken place already before the Christianization of the Roman Empire. An article similar in set-up to the author’s paper on seasonality of births (Shaw 2001, cited under Fertility, Reproduction, and Fertility Limitation), Shaw 1997 reconstructs the seasonality of marriage in Roman Italy after its Christianization. Phang 2001 focuses on the alternative opportunities to companionship for soldiers who were not allowed to marry following a legal ban by Augustus. Four further publications collect a range of evidence pertaining not only to marriages, but also to their endings: divorces and widowhood. Evans Grubbs 2002 is a sourcebook collecting a large range of documentary and legal evidence that provides neat glimpses of contemporary understandings and approaches, and constitutes great teaching material. Treggiari 1991 is a hefty, valuable handbook that contains a wealth of detail. Krause 1994–1995 is an even more detailed work in four volumes that extensively treats evidence on widows and orphanhood. For demographers, part 1 is of greatest interest. Finally, Rawson 1991 offers chapters by key scholars in the field who adopt a social-historical approach to the phenomena of marriage and divorce, and place them in the wider perspective of family studies.

                                                                                                                                                        • Betzig, Laura. 1992. Roman monogamy. Ethology and Sociobiology 13:351–383.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/0162-3095(92)90009-SSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          A highly interesting contribution by a historical anthropologist who places Roman marriage patterns in a wider perspective. Betzig argues that Roman monogamy—exceptional from a global, cross-cultural historical perspective—should be understood in the light of Darwinian theory. By stressing the connection between marriage and legitimate offspring, Roman aristocrats could keep their number of legitimate heirs low, while reproducing their genes outside of marriage without consequences to family wealth.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Evans Grubbs, Judith. 1994. “Pagan” and “Christian” marriage: The state of the question. Journal of Early Christian Studies 2:361–412.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/earl.0.0198Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Evans Grubbs argues against the then commonly upheld notion that Christian marriage patterns constituted a break with the past in terms of ideals on marital relationships and marriage ages for women. Holds that attitudes toward the role of women in marriage as expressed on inscriptions do not change with Christianization, and that apparent differences in average age at first marriage (see Marriage Ages) are to be ascribed to differences over time in the social groups reflected by the evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Evans Grubbs, Judith. 2002. Women and the law in the Roman Empire: A sourcebook on marriage, divorce and widowhood. London and New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                              Large collection of legal texts from the late Imperial period that shed light on women’s rights and obligations in the context of family law, among others on legal marriage ages, dowries, and guardianship in case of widowhood. Evans Grubbs complements the picture with papyri and Christian sources, and referenced short commentaries. Essential context to the series of articles that focuses on reconstructing patterns of marriage.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Krause, Jens‑Uwe. 1994–1995. Witwen und Waisen im Römischen Reich. 4 vols. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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                                                                                                                                                                In four volumes, Krause sequentially treats widowhood and remarriage; the economic and social position of widows; the legal and social position of orphans; and widows and orphans in early Christianity. Demographic aspects are covered in volume 1. On the basis of life expectancy and age difference between partners, Krause estimates (but without properly accounting for remarriage) that about 30 percent of Roman women were widows, many of them young and mothers.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Phang, Sara E. 2001. The marriage of Roman soldiers (13 BC–AD 235): Law and family in the Imperial army. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Phang draws on a wide array of sources on the marital status of military men. Explains Augustus’s ban on marriage for soldiers as a policy designed to prevent “feminization” of the army. Convincingly argues that various other options for companionship and sexual relationships were chosen instead: prostitutes, other men, and slaves. Illegitimate offspring were not legalized when soldiers left the army. Among the partners ex-soldiers legally married after their dismissal were female family members of their ex-comrades.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Rawson, Beryl, ed. 1991. Marriage, divorce and children in Rome. Canberra, Australia and Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Despite its title, this book is not much concerned with marriage as a demographic phenomenon, but more with households and children and their embedding in wider social contexts, family relationships, and divorce. Divorce is approached from different angles: legal (Treggiari on the right of both men and women to initiate divorce, and on bilateral divorce) and as a strategic move (Corbier, in an elite context to regulate property transmission or to clear the way for a remarriage).

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Scheidel, Walter. 2009. A peculiar institution? Greco-Roman monogamy in global context. History of the Family 14.3: 280–291.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.hisfam.2009.06.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Scheidel asks how Greco-Roman monogamous norms, which coexisted with (male) resource polygyny, could develop in a polygynous world. He attributes key roles to prevailing egalitarian norms among male citizens, economic inequality, and the presence of female slaves. According to Scheidel, modern monogamous norms are rooted in the Greco-Roman ones. The question of why they lost their effectively polygynous dimension, however, is only touched upon in his article, which calls for “a world history of monogamy” (p. 289).

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Shaw, Brent. 1997. Agrarian economy and the marriage cycle of Roman women. Journal of Roman Archaeology 10:57–76.

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                                                                                                                                                                        On the basis of 232 inscriptions, Shaw demonstrates that annual cycles of marriage in Roman Italy during the Christian period peaked in the winter months, from December to February, and slacked during the midsummer. The pattern is opposite to that of annual cycles in demand for agricultural labor. Seasonal marriage cycles in the city of Rome closely followed those of the countryside. Marriage in Roman Egypt apparently followed a different cycle, connected with local ecological conditions.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Treggiari, Susan. 1991. Roman marriage: Iusti coniuges from the time of Cicero to the time of Ulpian. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                          The handbook on all marriage-related issues in the Roman world. A lengthy study with a wealth of details, from marriage rings to attitudes toward extramarital affairs; to unilateral divorce initiated by women; to the transition from cum manu, in which legal powers over the woman went to the husband, to sine manu marriages, in which they remained with the father; to regulations on mourning periods for widow(er)s.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Veyne, Paul. 1978. La famille et l’amour sous le Haut-Empire romain. Annales ESC 33:35–63.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Unlike Evans Grubbs, Veyne does observe a change in the nature of marriage—from one guided by an open morale to one favoring a “couple morale” that emphasized reproduction and criminalized abortion. In an erudite argument, Veyne argues that the transition from a competitive Republican aristocracy to a collaborative Imperial aristocracy invoked this process, and unified upper- and lower-class morale. Christianity did not invent chaste morals, but rather built upon ideals already changed.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Marriage Ages

                                                                                                                                                                            Three main databases on marriage ages (AAFM: average age at first marriage) are available for the Roman context. The first consists of literary evidence, overrepresenting the upper classes, discussed by Lelis, et al. 2003. The second is a small dataset consisting of gravestones with information on ages at death and length of marriage, so that marriage ages can be calculated directly. The third is a much larger dataset, also of gravestones, which contains information on the type of family members commemorating deceased individuals. Shifts in these types of commemorators (fathers/mothers as opposed to husbands or wives) have been used as a proxy to calculate the ages of marriage of men and women in Saller 1987 and Shaw 1987. The third method implies higher ages at first marriages, and larger age gaps between men and women. Discussion is on which source of evidence and method is more reliable; Scheidel 2007 analyzes strengths and weaknesses of the methods of Lelis, et al.; Saller; and Shaw. Scheidel supports Saller. For the Greek world, no comparable information on ages at marriage exists, since it was not customary to record ages on gravestones. Possible changes over time in marriage ages are addressed in Aubin 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Aubin, Melissa M. 2000. More apparent than real? Questioning the difference in marital age between Christian and Non-Christian women of Rome during the third and fourth century. Ancient History Bulletin 14:1–13.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that epigraphic evidence cannot be used to support the previously upheld notion that Christian women married about three years later than pagan women. Datasets on pagans and Christians cannot be fruitfully compared, because of the possible divergences in social class, partially non-overlapping time periods, and differing degrees of accuracy between the two sets of inscriptions. In fact, Aubin contends, the identification of an inscription as Christian or pagan itself is often problematic.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Lelis, Arnold A., William A. Percy, and Beert C. Verstraete. 2003. The age of marriage in ancient Rome. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Collects literary evidence about AAFM for members of the Roman elite, data that are based on a sample of 101 and suggest both men and women tended to marry early, at twelve to sixteen for women and seventeen to twenty for men. The authors argue that a comparable pattern would hold for the Roman population at large, dismissing in a separate chapter the conclusions drawn by Saller 1987 and Shaw 1987 from epigraphic evidence. For a broader critical perspective, see the review by Evans Grubbs in Mouseion 7 (2007), pp. 67–71.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Saller, Richard P. 1987. Men’s age at marriage and its consequences in the Roman family. Classical Philology 82:21–34.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/367019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Adopts an indirect approach to calculating marriage ages that significantly enlarges sample size and hence allows for regional differentiation. Looks at commemorative patterns on grave inscriptions, assuming that commemoration by anyone other than a wife reflects unmarried status at the age of death. Hence, Saller infers proportions of men married for any given age. These inferences suggest men in the Western Roman Empire married late. Briefly discusses the implications of late male marriage for household patterns and legal rights (sui iuris status).

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Scheidel, Walter. 2007. Roman funerary commemoration and the age at first marriage. Classical Philology 102.4: 389–402.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/588506Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Demonstrates that it is demographically impossible that the sudden shift in commemorative patterns for men reflects paternal mortality, thus supporting the argument in Saller 1987 for late male marriage. Argues that evidence about female marriage does not permit testing the competing hypotheses of Lelis, et al. 2003 (AAFM between twelve and sixteen) and Shaw 1987 (around twenty), and that the data preclude inferences on marriage patterns in rural areas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Shaw, Brent D. 1987. The age of Roman girls at marriage: Some reconsiderations. Journal of Roman Studies 77:30–46.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Revision of Hopkins’s earlier study of the subject, in which Shaw argues that AAFM for women was rather in the late teens to early twenties, not the early to mid-teens. Shaw does so on the basis of the indirect method also used by Saller 1987, which looks at commemorative patterns.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Brother-Sister Marriage in Egypt

                                                                                                                                                                                      The references in this section reflect the latest contributions to and stances in a debate on the reality and spread of the so-called phenomenon of brother-sister marriage in Egypt. If ordinary citizens, and not merely the ruling classes, had adopted this practice, Egypt would have been a historical anomaly. Debate on how likely this was is ongoing. Huebner 2007 makes a refreshingly creative argument for viewing apparent brother-sister marriages as marriage between natural and adopted children, for which there are historical precedents. Remijsen and Clarysse 2008 and Rowlandson and Takahashi 2009 defend the view that marriages between biological siblings were a real phenomenon among ordinary families in Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Huebner, Sabine R. 2007. “Brother-sister” marriage in Roman Egypt: A curiosity of humankind or a widespread family strategy? Journal of Roman Studies 97:21–49.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Innovative study that draws attention to a suspiciously high number of cases in the census records from Egypt in which fathers above age fifty report a live-in son, and in which families report children of the same age. Argues that these may be cases in which prospective sons-in-law were adopted into the family prior to marriage—a phenomenon observed across the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in the absence of a male heir.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Remijsen, Sofie, and Willy Clarysse. 2008. Incest or adoption? Brother-sister marriage in Roman Egypt revisited. Journal of Roman Studies 98:53–61.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.3815/007543508786239355Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Response to Huebner 2007, defending the traditional view of the exceptionality of Egyptian marriage practices. Does so by referring to six ancient authors who regarded brother-sister marriage as a distinctive characteristic of the population of Egypt as a whole, and to the Gnomon of the Idios Logos. Egyptian cases of sibling marriage occurred often in families with more than a single son. Remijsen and Clarysse infer from these sources that marriages between full biological siblings were a reality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rowlandson, Jane, and Ryosuke Takahashi. 2009. Brother-sister marriage and inheritance strategies in Greco-Roman Egypt. Journal of Roman Studies 99:104–139.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.3815/007543509789744963Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Rowlandson and Takahashi see substantial differences in inheritance patterns between Egypt and other Greek Mediterranean areas, differences that would support the case for Egypt’s exceptionality in marriage patterns. They demonstrate that sibling marriage occurred across socioeconomic status. Their argument that large families were more inclined to endogamy than smaller ones, however, fails to take into account that large (or completely preserved) families are statistically more likely to generate sibling marriages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Household Structure and Family Ties

                                                                                                                                                                                            Saller and Shaw 1984 is the first study to try on the basis of empirical evidence to establish the nature of Roman family ties. From research of a large body of funerary inscriptions, the authors conclude that nuclear family ties, between parents and children, were dominant, and suggest that the nuclear family was the characteristic type of family organization in the Roman world. Subsequent scholarship has responded critically. Martin 1996 criticizes Saller and Shaw’s methodology. Note that Clarysse and Thompson 2006 (cited under General Overviews) also looks into household composition, and demonstrates heterogeneity between subgroups of the population of the Arsinoite nome: most Egyptian households can be classified as nuclear, while Greek households tended to include extended family members to a higher degree. In venturing into the debate on ancient household composition, however, (historical) demographers should be aware that the definition employed by ancient historians to describe “nuclear” and “extended” families tends not comply with the Laslett classification scheme adopted by historical demographers, thus severely hindering diachronic comparisons, and invalidating those that have been made. The concept of “extended family” tends to be used as an undifferentiated overarching term for any type of family other than one of parents-children. Likewise, the definition of nuclear family employed includes relationships (e.g., adult brothers) that would not be classified as such by historians of later periods. Wider perspectives than on households and family ties are provided in Huebner 2013, Saller 2007, and Cox 1998. Huebner discusses solidarity and conflicts between generations in households in Roman Egypt, using social and economic perspectives. Saller approaches households from a gender perspective, comparing the positions of Greek and Roman women. The way in which Athenian elite families used marriage and property to strengthen the position of their household takes central place in Cox’s book.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cox, Cheryl A. 1998. Household interests: Property, marriage strategies, and family dynamics in ancient Athens. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Athenian upper-class households gain focus in this study, which investigates tensions between law and practice. Cox is concerned with the ways in which elite families balanced endogamous marriage tendencies with alternate strategies to reinforce the interests of an oikos, and to secure property transfers (guardianship, remarriage, adoption). Her work relies mainly on the orations to draw inferences on behavior and motivation, thus rendering it vulnerable to the criticism that special pleading abounds in speeches written for lawsuits.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Huebner, Sabine R. 2013. The family in Roman Egypt: A comparative approach to intergenerational solidarity and conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511894558Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Huebner looks into family relationships of “the common people” in Egypt, combining the Roman census material with a range of papyrological evidence. She discusses how household structures were affected by economic structures and conditions (including the cost of children) as well as by social and cultural factors. The position of various of its members—daughters-in-law, the elderly—and the ways in which solidarity and conflict permeated Roman Egyptian households take central place in Huebner’s approach.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Martin, Dale B. 1996. The construction of the ancient family: Methodological considerations. Journal of Roman Studies 86:41–60.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Judicious response to Saller and Shaw 1984; Martin exposes substantial problems associated with taking commemorative ties as a proxy for family structures. Martin also criticizes Saller and Shaw’s methodology (counting individual ties, instead of classifying tombstones as a whole) for biasing results toward nuclear ties. He convincingly demonstrates that variations between regions in his sample ought to be attributed to heterogeneity in epigraphic habits.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Saller, Richard P. 2007. Household and gender. In The Cambridge economic history of the Greco-Roman world. Edited by Walter Scheidel, Ian Morris, and Richard P. Saller, 87–112. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521780537Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the greater legal and economic independence of Roman women, as compared to their classical Athenian counterparts. Sets out different mechanisms in place to safeguard a woman’s independence of her husband in Roman marriage. Individualized property rights gave women discretionary financial powers “unparalleled in European history before the twentieth century” (p. 97). Also discusses property of minor children and women and children’s labor market participation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Saller, Richard P., and Brent D. Shaw. 1984. Tombstones and Roman family relations in the principate: Civilians, soldiers and slaves. Journal of Roman Studies 74:124–156.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/299012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Saller and Shaw assess relationship patterns expressed on tombstones. They find that relationships with members of the nuclear family greatly outnumber all other types. Burial duties seem to have been closely related to transmission of property and a sense of affection. Hence, Saller and Shaw argue, the dominance of nuclear kin as commemorators of the deceased on gravestones may be taken to suggest that the nuclear family was the characteristic type of familial organization in Roman times in Western Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Migration

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The start of the 21st century has witnessed a boom of studies on migration. More recently adopted innovative bioarchaeological methods in particular offer new perspectives on the phenomenon. A good impression of the developments in this area and the potential they offer for demography is provided in Eckardt 2010. New theoretical perspectives on migration are offered in Erdkamp 2008, which forcefully undercuts previous depictions of the ancient world as a static one, gives many entrances to theoretical literature on migration, and forms a very valuable introduction to the phenomenon of migration in the ancient Italian context. A new body of epigraphic evidence is analyzed in Hin 2015, which uses a unique dataset of a good 2,300 inscriptions on migrants in Athens to reconstruct the demographic profile of migration. The question of how large migration flows were takes central place in Scheidel 2004, which focuses on migration rates in Italy between the 4th and 1st centuries BCE, and also provides estimates for the magnitude of rural-urban migration to Rome. Wilson 1966 tries to establish the scale of state-organized emigration from Republican Italy. The author also investigates economic and social aspects of colonization. More on the social and economic sides to migration can be found in Kennedy 2014, which approaches the issues from the individual level, taking the perspective of immigrant women in Athens who are known through literature or inscriptions. Greece and the Greek East are prominent as well in Olshausen and Sonnabend 2006. This volume includes thirty-five highly divergent papers with theoretical perspectives, as well as case studies. The edited volume Moatti 2004 likewise offers a broad range of papers, focusing mostly on legal and administrative perspectives—especially concerning border control. In the area of migration studies, migration to the city of Rome and “the urban graveyard effect” form a particularly popular research topic. Studies focusing exclusively on Rome are listed separately under Migration: Migration to and Migrants in the City of Rome. Some of the references included in this section do touch upon the link between migration and the urban graveyard effect: Scheidel 2004, Erdkamp 2008, and Hin 2015.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Eckardt, Hella, ed. 2010. Roman diasporas: Archaeological approaches to mobility and diversity in the Roman Empire. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 78. Portsmouth, RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Conference volume that integrates different sorts of evidence about migrants, covering a wide geographic range. Includes several isotopic and DNA studies that shed new light on patterns of migration and the health status of migrants, and explain the working of these new methodologies to a nonspecialist audience. Also work on forced migration of slaves, and on identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Erdkamp, Paul. 2008. Mobility and migration in Italy in the second century BC. In People, land and politics: Demographic developments and the transformation of Roman Italy, 300 BC–AD 14. Edited by Luuk De Ligt and Simon Northwood, 417–449. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Erdkamp draws attention to the concept of a “mobility spectrum,” (p. 421) in which mobility was a part of life and included not only permanent migration from A to B, but also seasonal mobility and temporary migration. He concludes that the Roman Italy was “far from immobile, inert or stationary” (p. 445). Erdkamp argues that sex ratios among immigrants in Rome were biased toward men and contributed to low urban fertility because lack of employment opportunities would have obstructed the mobility of women.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hin, Saskia. 2016. Revisiting urban graveyard theory: Migrant flows in Hellenistic and Roman Athens. In Migration and Mobility in the Early Roman Roman Empire. Edited by Luuk De Ligt and Laurens E. Tacoma, 236-265. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Analysis of a body of about 2,350 grave inscriptions for migrants in Athens. Hin observes that the share of migrants from Asia Minor increased during the Hellenistic period, and that the presence of waterways predicts migration patterns. Despite previous assertions, growing openness toward foreigners did not coincide with a dramatic increase in intermarriage between foreigners and local Athenians. The ratio of men to women among immigrants was surprisingly even. This statistic undermines the theory that a lack of women among immigrants led to low numbers of offspring and hence contributed to a continuous need for immigrants in cities (the so-called urban graveyard effect).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Kennedy, Rebecca F. 2014. Immigrant women in Athens: Gender, ethnicity and citizenship in the Classical city. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              With the help of inscriptions and literary evidence, Kennedy investigates aspects of the social and economic (labor) history of immigrant women during the Classical Period in Athens. Kennedy discusses their legal position, including the impact of changing marriage laws on their and their offspring’s citizenship status. She undercuts the dominant view that prostitutes were prominent among immigrant women.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Moatti, Claudia, ed. 2004. La mobilité des personnes en Méditerranée de l’Antiquité à l’époque moderne: Procédures de contrôle et documents d’identification. Rome: École française de Rome.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Papers in French, Italian, English, and Spanish in this volume with a focus on the juridical aspects of migration. Contributions eclectically cover a wide range of time and place. Of special interest are papers on mobility during the Hellenistic Wars; on migration, integration, and identity during the late Empire; on border crossing in Roman Africa; on emigration restrictions for Latins in Italy; and on foreigners in the Greek world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Olshausen, Eckart, and Holger Sonnabend, eds. 2006. “Troianer sind wir gewesen”: Migrationen in der Antike Welt. Stuttgarter Kolloquium zur historischen Geographie des Altertums 8, 2002. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mostly German, some Italian and English contributions (thirty-five in total) to a wide-ranging conference volume that combines theoretical/macro-perspectives and sometimes highly detailed case studies. Focus is on Greek colonization, the Hellenistic Greek East, and migration in Germania. Several papers discuss migration in military context; the logistics of migration are investigated; identity issues are addressed; and the topic of short-term mobility (including travel) found its way into the volume.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Scheidel, Walter. 2004. Human mobility in Roman Italy I: The free population. Journal of Roman Studies 94:1–26.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Scheidel estimates migration rates between the 4th and 1st century BCE at about 0.5 percent annually, and argues that colonization programs were much more important than private emigration. With regard to centripetal migration to Rome, Scheidel holds that earlier studies by Jongman and Morley had dramatically overestimated the number of migrants needed to sustain Rome. He concludes that the intrinsic growth capacity of the free rural population of Italy sufficed to sustain Italy’s cities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Wilson, A. J. N. 1966. Emigration from Italy in the Republican Age of Rome. Manchester, UK: Manchester Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Still the classic on emigration to the colonies. Focus is on private settlement (not state-organized migrations to colonies), from Italy to both the Western provinces and the Greek East. On the scale of the phenomenon; on professions of migrants; on the status of migrant communities and their relationships with locals.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Migration to and Migrants in the City of Rome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Demographic studies have shown great interest in the relationship between migration and the so-called urban graveyard effect. For ancient Rome, new theoretical models as presented by Erdkamp 2008 (cited under Migration) and Hin 2013 (cited under General Overviews) are supplemented by biochemical analyses (stable isotope analysis) of skeletal material. The studies reported in Prowse, et al. 2007 and Killgrove 2010 undermine the hypothesis that migrants to urban environments were overwhelmingly male, and find evidence for migration by both sexes, and in family contexts. Bruun 2010 and Eckardt 2010 (cited under Migration) point the reader to the literature debating this emerging methodology and the interpretation of its findings. Still, findings of a fresh study on a large number (approximately 2,350) of Athenian migrant inscriptions in Hin 2015 (cited under Migration), using a different methodology, now point in the same direction. Issues concerning the integration of foreigners in their new hometown Rome, as well as their social and economic lives, receive ample attention in Noy 2002. Ricci 2005 and Tacoma 2013 present opposing viewpoints on the residential segregation of foreigners in Rome and its implication for integration. The family life of migrants in Rome is investigated in a good micro-level study by Noy in Rawson 2011 (cited under Marriage and Family Studies). Morley 2003 also zooms in on the micro-level. The author’s annotated dialogue between fictive migrants in Rome is particularly suitable as an original and entertaining way to draw students into discussing the subject.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Bruun, Christer. 2010. Water, oxygen isotopes, and immigration to Ostia-Portus. Journal of Roman Archaeology 23:133–136.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An intelligent and thoughtful review of the isotopic analyses performed on the skeletal material from Portus by Prowse, et al. 2007, this contribution highlights how methodological complexities and uncertainties render the scientific results less “hard” than they seem. In doing so, Bruun demonstrates why ancient historians should engage in debates with the natural sciences and with quantitative research by adding perspective from epigraphic, literary, and other historical evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Killgrove, Kristina. 2010. Migration and mobility in Imperial Rome. PhD diss., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Collects skeletal evidence from various lower-class burial sites around Rome. On the basis of isotopic analysis of the material, Killgrove finds that around one-third of individuals were of migrant origin. The twenty migrants studied included both women and children. The observed demographic profile of this sample of migrants thus diverges from theoretical assumptions hitherto widely adhered to.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Morley, Neville. 2003. Migration and the metropolis. In Rome the cosmopolis. Edited by Catharine Edwards and Greg Woolf, 147–157. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A refreshing read, suitable especially as teaching material. Morley delves into inscriptional and literary evidence about migrants. Together with findings by recent scholarship on demography, it forms the basis of the movie script into which Morley shaped the evidence. Set up as a dialogue between migrants interrupted by a narrator, Morley’s unorthodox article offers a creative way to get students thinking and debating about aspects of urban demography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Noy, David. 2002. Foreigners at Rome: Citizens and strangers. London: Duckworth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Noy collects a range of evidence about foreigners in Rome. For demographers, chapters 2 through 4 and chapter 8 are of greatest interest—respectively on the general demographic and legal background (among others on numbers and rights of intermarriage); on motivations for migration; on the profile of immigrants; and on the ethnic composition of Rome’s foreign population. Other chapters focus on issues relating to ethnicity and identity. Includes a useful appendix of about 1,500 foreigners identified epigraphically.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Prowse, Tracey L., Henry P. Schwarcz, Peter Garnsey, Martin Knyf, Roberto Macchiarelli, and Luca Bondioli. 2007. Isotopic evidence for age-related immigration to Imperial Rome. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 132:510–519.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20541Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Teeth and molars of sixty-one individuals buried at Isola Sacra (1st–3rd century CE), near Rome’s harbor town Portus, were subjected to oxygen stable isotope analyses by the research team. From the chemical composition of teeth and molars, which is affected by local water and food consumption, the authors conclude that migrants included substantial numbers of children and women. Prowse et al.’s findings suggest that the commonly held assumption that migration was mostly a business for young, single adult men requires qualification.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ricci, Cecilia. 2005. Orbis in urbe: Fenomeni migratori nella Roma Imperiale. Vita e Costumi nel Mondo Romano 26. Rome: Quasar.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Analysis of a dataset of about 2,000 foreigners in Rome as identified by ethnics, epithets, and circumstantial evidence in literary and epigraphic sources. In her first chapter, Ricci discusses places of origin and juridical status. The argument that residential patterns were shaped by a mixture of ethnic and professional segregation, central to chapter 2, is countered in Tacoma 2013. Ricci’s final chapter focuses on (para)military forces stationed in Imperial Rome and temporal shifts in their ethnic composition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tacoma, Laurens E. 2013. Migrants quarters at Rome? In Integration in Rome and the Roman world: Proceedings of the tenth workshop of the international network; Impact of Empire, Lille, June 23–25, 2011. Edited by Gerda De Kleijn and Stephane Benoist, 127–146. Leiden, The Netherlands and Boston: Brill.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the question of residential clustering among migrants in Rome and its potential implications for the integration between migrants (of different backgrounds) and locally born residents. Tacoma concludes that, in contrast to the communis opinio, there was no residential segregation of migrants, with the exception of Jewish migrants, who had their own neighborhood in Trastevere. Also finds evidence that points to social mixing, and relatively modest economic clustering.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Population and Economy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The demographic characteristics of populations cannot be studied without taking economic contexts into account. A good general theoretical overview of the interrelationship between the two in the ancient setting can be found in Scheidel 2007b. That three out of four further references focus on the case of Roman Italy during the late Republic and early Empire reflects the strong interest and expertise by current scholarship. Scheidel 2007a seeks to establish a model of real income growth for Italy as a whole, identifying factors that could have generated real income growth during the late Republic and collecting corroborating empirical evidence. De Ligt 2004 also looks at Italy as a whole, but focuses on new explanations for the motivations underlying the Gracchan land reforms in the 130s BCE. De Ligt finds them in impoverishment induced by population growth. In Morley 1996, the author chooses a narrower geographic perspective. His book demonstrates how high concentrations of population, such as that in ancient Rome, could generate economic development in a pre-industrial setting. The question to what extent the Roman economy should be considered as “primitive” or “modern” is key to the Oxford Roman Economy Project, of which Bowman and Wilson 2009 and Bowman and Wilson 2011 form key outputs. Choosing a new approach to this old debate, Bowman and Wilson collect archaeological evidence to shed light on the performance of the Roman economy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bowman, Alan, and Andrew Wilson, eds. 2009. Quantifying the Roman economy I. Methods and problems. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562596.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First of two edited volumes by the Oxford Project that seek to shed light on the Roman economy through an inductive archaeological approach. Includes two contributions on the reconstruction of population from field surveys by Fentress and Mattingly, two on the question whether and how urbanization rates and processes can be viewed as indicators of economic of economic development (Lo Cascio and Bagnall), and four on the (physical) living standards and incomes of ordinary Romans (Jongman; Rathbone; Allen and Scheidel).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Bowman, Alan, and Andrew Wilson, eds. 2011. Settlement, urbanization and population. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602353.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Second volume of the Oxford Project provides up-to-date perspective on research on urban settlements, and the relationship between population and economy. Works from hypothesis that urbanization can be used as a proxy for economic growth. First part on methods and data, with three chapters on risks and potential of inferring population sizes from survey evidence. In the second part, urbanization: a theoretical approach; population densities; rank-size analyses of urban systems in Iberia, Britain and Asia Minor; the creation of settlement hierarchies that join multiple indicators; and population distribution in Egypt.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • De Ligt, Luuk. 2004. Poverty and demography: The case of the Gracchan land reforms. Mnemosyne 57.6: 725–757.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          De Ligt argues that the Gracchan land reforms in the 130s BCE were not induced by population decline, but resulted from population impoverishment induced by population growth. The downward trend in the census figures for the period 160–130 BCE does not reflect a real decline in the citizen population. Rather, he argues, they reflect a growing reluctance of many citizens to serve in the army, and hence increasing underregistration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Morley, Neville. 1996. Metropolis and hinterland: The city of Rome and the Italian economy, 200 B.C.–A.D. 200. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511518584Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On the economic interaction between the city of Rome and its hinterland, and the effects of urbanization on land use in the Italian Peninsula. Morley moves beyond the old model of Rome as a “consumer city” that constrained the economy. He argues on the basis of archaeological and literary evidence that Rome was a driving force in the development of the Italian economy by boosting demand and fostering zones of specialized (food) production for the urban market.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Scheidel, Walter. 2007a. A model of real income growth in Roman Italy. Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 56.3: 322–346.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the economic impact of Roman Imperialism on the mass of Italy’s population. Scheidel argues that the real incomes and well-being of ordinary citizens in Italy rose during the 1st century BCE. Increases in living standards resulted from the historically specific convergence of (a) influx of wealth through conquest; (b) limited population growth due to emigration, urbanization, and excess war mortality; and (c) redistribution of wealth (abolition of direct taxation and harbor dues; grain distributions; increased labor opportunities).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Scheidel, Walter. 2007b. Demography. In The Cambridge economic history of the ancient world. Edited by Walter Scheidel, Ian Morris, and Richard Saller, 38–86. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scheidel presents a (graphic) model of the relationship between population and economy. He sets out how population density and population growth created pressure for innovation, and which conditions caused the “low-equilibrium trap” that characterized the ancient world. Within this trap, demographic and economic structures covaried over time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Demography of Slavery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most literature on demography in the ancient world focuses on the characteristics of free inhabitants of the ancient world. There are good reasons to think that the specific living conditions of slaves led to distinctive demographic profiles among this subgroup. Studies focus on sex ratios and reproduction rates. Harper 2008 presents the most interesting empirical evidence, which clearly raises questions of representation as it relates to one group of slaves owned by a single owner. Harris 1999 and Scheidel 2005 reflect a wider debate on the question whether or not slaves were able to reproduce themselves. Key to this debate is the question of what sex ratios among slave populations were like. Roth 2007 makes a creative argument for reconsidering the notion that on large farming estates there was no, or hardly any, place for female slaves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Harper, Kyle. 2008. The Greek census inscriptions of late Antiquity. Journal of Roman Studies 98:83–119.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3815/007543508786239661Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Includes analysis of a new fragment of a census inscription from probably around 371 CE, on 152 rural slaves of a single owner on the Greek island of Thera. The demographic composition of the slave population at this time and place shows that (a) the slaves were able to reproduce themselves (the observed sex ratio is nearly even; slaves are presented in family-type groups); and (b) men were manumitted more often than women, generally after age thirty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Harris, William V. 1999. Demography, geography, and the sources of Roman slaves. Journal of Roman Studies 89:62–75.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Harris argues that exposure of infants formed a more important source of slavery than recognized by others. In Harris’s view, fertility among slaves must have been low, as evidence suggests that the demand for and hence the sex ratio among slaves was rather unbalanced, with only a minority of females. Harris argues that import, self-sale, and the enslavement of foundlings accounted for a large share of the social reproduction of Roman slaves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lo Cascio, E. 2002. Considerazioni sul numero degli schiavi e sulle loro fonti di approvvigionamento in età imperiale. In Etudes de démographie du monde gréco-romain. Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis, ser. Antiquitas 26. Edited by Wieslaw Suder, 51–65. Wroclaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wroclawskiego.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lo Cascio follows up on the debate between Scheidel and Harris 1999. Lo Cascio finds both authors’ explanatory models for the reproduction of the slave population hard to maintain. He argues that the proportion of slaves among the entire population declined during the Imperial period, as the period of conquest came to an end. The percentage of slaves fell below a more sustainable 10 percent, as manumission and uneven sex ratios hindered reproduction of this population subgroup.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Roth, Ulrike. 2007. Thinking tools: Agricultural slavery between evidence and models. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies Supplement 92. London: Univ. of London Institute of Classical Studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Roth makes an ingenious if not uncontroversial case for viewing female slaves as playing an essential role in the Roman slave economy, especially in wool spinning and garment production. Her case that textile production on estates has most likely been underestimated by previous scholarship is convincingly stated. Roth argues that it was slave women who performed this job alongside of bringing up a new generation of slaves, while their male counterparts worked on the land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Scheidel, Walter. 2005. Human mobility in Roman Italy II: The slave population. Journal of Roman Studies 95:64–79.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Theoretical argument in favor of natural reproduction among slaves, supported by empirical evidence provided in Harper 2008.

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