Skip to comments.Ancient Rome's Real Population Revealed
Posted on 10/07/2009 5:08:10 AM PDT by decimon
The first century B.C. was one of the most culturally rich in the history of the Roman Empire - the age of Cicero, Caesar and Virgil. But as much as historians know about the great figures of this period of Ancient Rome, they know very little about some basic facts, such as the population size of the late Roman Empire.
Now, a group of historians has used caches of buried coins to provide an answer to this question.
During the Republican period of Rome (about the fifth to the first centuries B.C), adult male citizens of Rome could be taxed and conscribed into the army and were also given the right to vote. To keep track of this section of the population (and their taxable assets), the Roman state conducted periodic censuses.
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Horde hoard ping.
Burying coins to avoid taxation, then forgetting where they are? No wonder Rome fell!
I certainly agree that Rome eventually suffered catastrophic population decline, but in the 1st century or earlier? Come on. And a total population of 5 million would be dramatically too low to support the number of legions they maintained in the field, especially in a pre-modern economy that was still agragarian in nature, no matter how refined.
Am I misunderstanding this somehow? The city of Rome itself had at minimum a population of several hundred thousand, with serious estimates ranging upwards to a million or more (and historical claims up to 7 million, I believe, though I think those can be discounted). That would only be a small portion of the total, given the presence of other large cities like Ephesus, Antioch and Alexandria with 6-figure populations each. And yet most people would still have lived in villages or farms, not in the larger towns and cities that were so plentiful at this time.
I'm taking this as an additional and not exclusive approach to estimating the population. And I'm taking it to mean the population of little more than the Italian peninsula. Big assumptions on my part in the lack of a more complete account.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
That would be the population of just the city of Rome, itself a disputed figure.
OK, that would make a lot more sense (for the Italian peninsula itself).
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I think that the water flow of the Roman aquaduct system would only set an upper limit for the population. Probably not useful for predicting actual population. A good bit of that water would have flushed directly into the sewage system anyway.
And we need to know that because....?
The imaginary population was getting boring.
Ah. I thought that was why video games were invented...?
Because the more we know, the more we know.
Are you sure?
Not necessarily true for everyone.....
The few of us with brains can run the world.
(Good men are welcome too.)
We have started listening to audio books in the car.
Last week, for about an hour, it was Sun Zu’s art of war.
This week, we started The 12 Caesars by Suetonius.
Much of it is over my head, but I do learn more than, er, expected.
I hate edumecation. It makes me feel like I’m less than prefect...
But we are less than perfect.
Remember those lines?
Line up for your challenges....so we did.