THE DEMOGRAPHY OF THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD
Purpose and structure
Demography is essential for
our understanding of ancient societies: patterns of mortality, the social
organisation of reproduction, household formation and population density are
among the crucial factors governing life in every society, including ancient
Despite all this, no introductory textbook on this subject is available in English. The overall structure of the book is determined by the central concerns of the historical demography of the more recent past. As a result, it will help to acquaint classicists with the perspectives of professional demography, and make the book more readily accessible and relevant to historical demographers and social historians of other periods. The core of the book consists of a discussion of the three determinants of population structure, namely mortality, fertility and migration. A separate chapter will be devoted to questions of family and household structure, a topic of great interest to historical demography in general and of relevance to studies of the history of the family, women, and childhood in classical antiquity. The issue of population size, which has traditionally received most attention by ancient historians, will be assessed with particular emphasis on the concepts of population pressure and demographic contraction. Each chapter will conclude with a section that discusses its significance for our understanding of the ancient world in general.
The introduction will describe the scope and approach of the book.
Chapter 1, on mortality, will discuss the problem of deriving mortality rates from age distributions attested in samples of ancient evidence; their relationship to model life tables and comparative evidence; their implications for life expectancy and fertility; seasonal mortality and causes of death; and mortality crises.
Chapter 2, on fertility, will introduce the concept of natural fertility; examine the principal determinants of fertility, such as age of marriage, incidence of marriage and re-marriage, birth spacing, stopping strategies; contraception, abortion, and child exposure/infanticide; and the effects of fertility control on the sex ratio.
Chapter 3, on migration, will focus on urbanisation; Greek and Roman colonization; the slave trade; and other means of population transfer.
Chapter 4, on family and household
structure, will discuss quantifiable evidence of the composition of families
and households, especially in Ptolemaic and Roman
Chapter 5, on population size, will address problems of determining population size; its change over time, with particular reference to classical Athens, the city of Rome, and Roman Italy; and the notions of population pressure and depopulation, as well as the relationship between demographic and economic conditions.
Chapter 6 will offer concluding observations on the prospects of further research in this field.
© 2003, 2009 Walter Scheidel