Ancient economic history for the 21st century (Seminar)

(Walter Scheidel, organizer)


The study of ancient economies has long been hampered by its isolation from modern economic theory and the economic history of the more recent past. The forthcoming multi-authored Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World aims to change the terms of the debate. De-emphasizing the conventional preoccupation with ‘primitivism’ or ‘substantivism,’ this project adopts the perspective of the ‘New Institutional Economics’ in focusing on critical determinants of economic performance such as legal, social and political institutions, demographic conditions, and human capital. The ultimate goal is to identify and explain variation in economic growth and development. This seminar will bring together contributors to this volume and outside commentators in an effort to assess the prospects for a successful re-orientation of ancient economic history.