By Walter Scheidel

In conjection with an intensive serious survey of contemporary advances and controversies in Roman demography, the 4 case-studies during this quantity illustrate numerous varied ways to the learn of historical inhabitants heritage. The contributions deal with a couple of the most important concerns in Roman demography from the evolution of the tutorial box to seasonal styles of fertility, the variety of Roman electorate, inhabitants strain within the early Roman empire, and the tip of classical urbanism in past due antiquity. this is often the 1st collaborative quantity of its style. it really is designed to introduce historical historians and classicists to demographic, comparative and interdisciplinary views, and to situate and contextualize Roman inhabitants reports within the wider ambit of historic demography.

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Biomolecular analyses of skeletal material from the Roman Fayum are a desideratum. , Sallares (1991) 89; Hopkins (1995/96) 60. 105 Morley (1996) 33-54, drawing on Wrigley (1967). 106 Lo Cascio (2000a, forthcoming c), and in this volume. For the broader debate, see Sharlin (1978, 1981); Finlay (1981); Perrenoud (1982); van der Woude (1982); De Vries (1984) 175-98; Woods (1989); Dupaquier (1990) and the other contributions in Annates de Demography Historique J 990: 5-151; Galley (1995). On a more general level, Laurence (1997) takes issue with Scobie's striking portrayal of Rome as an unhygienic and disease-ridden dystopia (Scobie (1986)).

In my view, it must be attributed to three main factors: conceptual confusion, such as the inability to distinguish between fertility control, family limitation, and demographic contraction; unwarranted infatuation with moralising rhetoric and pro-natalist sentiments in ancient sources; and complete ignorance of the growing body of modern research on determinants of fertility and fertility transition theory. In this area, the dissociation of ancient history from the social sciences has proven particularly detrimental to our understanding of ancient populations.

Sallares (pers. ). 103 Scheidel (1996a) 9 - 5 1 , esp. 15-38 (see also (1997a)), in the absence of 28 WALTER SCHEIDEL Differential mortality is a related issue. In view of comparatively high levels of urbanisation in many parts of the Roman world, especially in Italy and Egypt (see below), differences between urban and rural life expectancies would be of particular interest. 109 Future reactions will decide whether these data can be accepted as primary evidence of urban excess mortality in the Roman period.

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