By the time of Constantine's departure for the east in the 320s, Ancient Rome had grown to a city of over a million people: the largest that classical civilization had ever seen. The Empire was also prosperous: Temin estimates that living standards for the ordinary worker may have been higher than for any other European society before the 17th century.
How did the Ancient Romans maintain such a high standard of living? To what extent did they have a "modern" market economy? And if the Roman economy was truly that advanced, why did it not go on to witness the high growth rates of the modern world?
This talk will offer a very short introduction to these questions and the debates that have surrounded them over the past 90 years, from early writers like Rostovtzeff and Finley to the findings of modern archaeology and new approaches such as the New Institutional Economics.
Speaker: Jonathan Ainslie, School of History