Economic Archaeology & History 6

16-05-2019 van 14:30 tot 17:00
Ghent University
Door wie
Dr. Dimitri Van Limbergen, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy – Department of Archaeology
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Specialist Course - Economic Archaeology & History. Comparative approaches for determining economic performance in archaeological and historical research from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

The economic archaeology & history seminar series has gained momentum, as the next session is already scheduled for next week, on Thursday May 16th

For this session, we are delighted that prof. Neville Morley (University of Exeter) ( has agreed to give a talk on Demography and Economy in the Ancient World: performance and structure

Prof. Morley has kindly shared the following abstract with us:

Although demographic structures and processes have long been identified as a key determinant of economic performance in the pre-modern era, they have only occasionally been studied in detail in these terms. In part, as the first part of this talk will consider, this reflects problems of evidence in the study of ancient demography, and the fundamental question of whether ancient populations should be reconstructed on the basis of comparison with better-known periods (thus down-playing the possible exceptional nature of Greek and Roman society and economy) or through much more speculative extrapolation from ancient sources. But it also reflects debates about the relationship between population and economy that have been running since the eighteenth century, and more recent arguments about whether economic historians should focus on ‘performance’ rather than ‘structure’. The second part will survey these debates and their implications for economic archaeology, before moving on to consider the ways in which the study of material evidence can offer a deeper understanding of the relationship between population and economic development in classical antiquity.

For this session, the main lecture will be followed by a presentation by David Gerald Pickel, a PhD Candidate in Classical Archaeology at Stanford University (, on The Boundaries of Malaria and their Demographic and Economic Consequences for Rome.

Given our ever growing knowledge of malaria’s presence and prevalence in ancient Italy, historians and archaeologists increasingly are taking the disease into consideration when studying the the demography and economy of Rome, and understandably so. Wherever prevalent, the disease has costs, the gravest of which being significant increases in mortality and morbidity rates, especially in children. The disease also depresses economic growth. Were that not enough, these costs engender and reinforce socio-political struggles and inequalities. Yet much of this work does not regard the spatial and temporal boundaries that humans and the environment impose upon the disease. How can we improve our understanding of this differential impact in the past, given the  evidence currently available? This presentation, which stems from a larger dissertation project, will discuss the history of malaria in ancient Italy, present a more detailed, albeit at this time theoretical picture of malaria’s likely prevalence in the region, and offer preliminary thoughts regarding the consequences of such differential impact.

Please join us for this session on Roman demography on Thursday May 16th at 2.30 pm in the Lecture Room Henri Pirenne (Department of Archaeology, Ufo building - 1st floor), Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 9000 Ghent).​ The session will open with coffee & biscuits around 2.30 pm. The lecture by Neville Morley starts around 2.45 pm.

For practical reasons, we ask non-UGent attendees to RSVP to prior to the start of the seminar.