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View Poll Results: Most livable part of the Roman world?
Egypt 11 18.64%
Italy 28 47.46%
Asia Minor 11 18.64%
Gaul 2 3.39%
Hispania 3 5.08%
Britannia 1 1.69%
Syria 3 5.08%
Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 1st, 2015, 02:17 PM   #41

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Videos about houses of the Roman Empire:













Very good quality info. Notice the houses are all from 3 regions: Italy, Asia Minor and North Africa.

In The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Ober cites these same regions as the richest parts of the Roman Empire.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 02:27 PM   #42

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Originally Posted by Valens View Post
I don't see it that way. It was a city state, absolutely lacking the inner organization needed to be called an Empire. Your loose definition of an Empire would categorize many other similar entities as an Empire.
I see.

Quote:
Nevertheless, even if you have a point about Italy, I again have to emphasize that I did not mean 'livable' only in economic terms, but overall conditions, including political stability. Egypt perhaps did not have so many urban centers as Italy, but it had remained more or less stable, despite occasional turmoil and has weathered the crisis better than some other parts of the Empire.
Ok. However I don't think political turmoil would have impacted the daily lives of most people significantly. Classical Greece was full of wars and political instability but I would rather live there than in Roman Egypt.

Also, archaeological data reveals that life expectancy was very low in Roman Egypt, around 20-25 years. That's because the hot climate made the province a hotbead for diseases.

Also, there is this article by Kron regarding standards of living in the Greco-Roman world, apparently life was not so bad for the average person as archaeological evidence appear to suggest that it was better to be an average person in Roman Italy, Africa or Asia Minor than to be an average Brit in the UK of the 1850's, at least in terms of housing, access to cultural facilities and access to running clean water:

Standards of Living, Wealth | Geoffrey Kron - Academia.edu

So I was thinking of those terms.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 02:41 PM   #43

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guaporense View Post

Ok. However I don't think political turmoil would have impacted the daily lives of most people significantly. Classical Greece was full of wars and political instability but I would rather live there than in Roman Egypt.
Most people would remain undisturbed by it, I agree. But my argument in favor of Egypt was that it remained relatively stable throughout Antiquity, while also being rich. Of course, I do not argue that Egypt's wealth had a significant impact upon the lives of ordinary people in the province.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guaporense View Post
Also, archaeological data reveals that life expectancy was very low in Roman Egypt, around 20-25 years. That's because the hot climate made the province a hotbead for diseases.

Also, there is this article by Kron regarding standards of living in the Greco-Roman world, apparently life was not so bad for the average person as archaeological evidence appear to suggest that it was better to be an average person in Roman Italy, Africa or Asia Minor than to be an average Brit in the UK of the 1850's, at least in terms of housing, access to cultural facilities and access to running clean water:

Standards of Living, Wealth | Geoffrey Kron - Academia.edu

So I was thinking of those terms.
I do not dispute that. There is indeed solid evidence that life conditions had been much better in Roman Italy in I century AD than they were in Victorian London. The level of sanitation alone was enough to constitute a significant difference in favor of Ancient Rome.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 02:59 PM   #44

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Originally Posted by Guaporense View Post
Not a terrible argument. However, population density in rural areas has low correlation with real state prices in urban areas.

Notice that I am comparing house sizes of small towns and hence the price of real state tends to be relatively similar larger cities have higher real state prices so housing tend to be smaller (example: Manhattan versus small midwest town).
But you are not compensating for various ecosystem limitations. For example, in Egypt, the house sizes have always been smaller than those in Judea, an area we know has been of lower income than Egypt. This is because while the Judea area has plenty of arable and livable land in a given area, Egypt, except for the delta, has always been a very thin band of arable land around nile, surrounded by desert. In such an ecosystem, house sizes will be smaller in sq footage for floor area, as the room for expansion is simply not there.



Quote:
Click the image to open in full size.

Data from the EU and India. Correlation is nearly 1.
Except this is your data and its clearly flawed. This is the average house in Bengal, in almost all urban areas:

Click the image to open in full size.

It is also significantly larger than the average home in Vancouver, given that the ratio of apartments to houses is much smaller in Kolkata than it is in Vancouver.

Quote:
Archaeologists are pretty sure of their data. You are not an archaeologist and cannot evaluate these things. Pompeii and Herculaneum have been wholly preserved allowing for precise measure of mean house size while archaeologists compare the houses of other tows with a fair degree of certainty.
Average house sizes in Pompeii

As one can see, the average house size in Pompeii is huge, because it uses public structures and its surrounding gardens to calculate the average.

The median house size in Pompeii is closer to 80 sq meters for dwellings and it is far closer to the average house size of virtually all ancient societies.

This blows a big hole into your 'greek/roman housing of 1st millennia BCE were bigger than those of 19th century Europe ' idea, as it clearly is a flawed comparison: while you are comparing the average dwelling size of European cities of 19th century , you are comparing it with the average, derived from a few large properties held by the Roman & Greek elites, not the median house size of the average inhabitant. Include the manor houses and castles of Europe like you would with public buildings and arenas of Greco-Roman world and the conclusion is obvious: The Greeks & Romans were a bunch of primitives compared to 19th century Europeans in virtually every single way, including standard of living.


Quote:
I should put you back into my ignore list.
Feel free. Matters not to me. Matters to you, as apparently you do not like answering questions regarding your flawed assessment, as outlined in this post.

Last edited by Lord_of_Gauda; November 1st, 2015 at 03:04 PM.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 03:29 PM   #45

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valens View Post
Most people would remain undisturbed by it, I agree. But my argument in favor of Egypt was that it remained relatively stable throughout Antiquity, while also being rich. Of course, I do not argue that Egypt's wealth had a significant impact upon the lives of ordinary people in the province.
Yes it appears that Egyptian peasants were really exploited: They made around 20 grams of silver a month while a Roman legionary made 80 grams of silver a month (and Roman auxiliares which weren't citizens made 5/6 of what a legionary made, about 67 grams of silver a month). Wages according to literary evidence appears to be 4 grams of silver a day (1 denarii a day) in other parts of the empire.

While Ptolemaic Egypt had in tax revenues about 350 tons of silver, equivalent to the annual pay of 1.5 million unskilled workers which was comparable to the total number of workers in Egypt. Hence, it appears a very high fraction of the peasant's product went to the state and the Ptolemaic elite.

It's said that Hellenistic Kingdoms were in some ways much like the British colony of India: an elite of Greeks ruling over an enormously larger population of poor exploited peasants.

Still, Karanis wasn't that bad of a town in fact. It's houses were solidly build and children had toys and stuff:

Click the image to open in full size.

Though inhabitants of Karanis were often Roman citizens, their status was probably better than the rural peasants of Roman Egypt.

Quote:
I do not dispute that. There is indeed solid evidence that life conditions had been much better in Roman Italy in I century AD than they were in Victorian London. The level of sanitation alone was enough to constitute a significant difference in favor of Ancient Rome.
Although literacy levels and access to books was much better than 19th century Europe. We don't have data for ancient Greco-Roman literacy levels but in mid 19th century UK,US,France,Germany,Sweden it was already about 85-95%, in Russia it was much lower however, at around 15-25%.

While it's improbable that Roman literacy levels were very high (over 20-30%) because people displayed literacy as a sign of status. In Europe in 1500 AD around the time of the invention of the printing press literacy levels were around 5-10%.

Roman standards of sanitation and infrastructure were amazing though. Cities had diverse facilities such as amphitheaters, theaters, etc. And their ruins are really impressive. While per capita water supply of Roman cities was in the order of 500-1000 liters a day, in 18th century Madrid and Lisbon it was 7 liters a day, 4 liters a day in 17th century Paris. Although the cost of Roman aqueducts was also enormous: one of Rome's 11 aqueducts cost about 180 tons of silver.

It shows that you don't need that advanced technology to actually have decent infrastructure though it took many centuries for the Roman empire to build it.

Last edited by Guaporense; November 1st, 2015 at 03:50 PM.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 03:36 PM   #46

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Originally Posted by Guaporense View Post
While it's improbable that Roman literacy levels were very high (over 20-30%) because people displayed literacy as a sign of status. In Europe in 1500 AD around the time of the invention of the printing press literacy levels were around 5-10%.
Weak argument. Literacy is a symbol of status in every culture-ancient and modern. Being literate is a huge status symbol in sub-saharan africa, yet they are around 10-15% literacy rate. Since European literacy rate prior to printing press was 5-10%, even compensating for a less competitive Roman world, there is no substantiation of it being over 15-20%.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 03:40 PM   #47

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_of_Gauda View Post

Average house sizes in Pompeii

As one can see, the average house size in Pompeii is huge, because it uses public structures and its surrounding gardens to calculate the average.

The median house size in Pompeii is closer to 80 sq meters for dwellings and it is far closer to the average house size of virtually all ancient societies.
I cannot see the book from the link, can you quote the relevant part please?
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Old November 1st, 2015, 03:44 PM   #48

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Daily life in Karanis:

Domestic Life at Karanis

Very cool page. Apparently it was not as bad as in most other pre-industrial towns and literacy was culturally encouraged even in a small town in Greco-Roman Egypt. Apparently education was private as there wasn't any public education system but I don't think that's actually that important.

Karanis' houses were apartment buildings owned by multiple persons as well. Ground floor size of 70 square meters was small but there were many floors in the apartment building.

Last edited by Guaporense; November 1st, 2015 at 04:07 PM.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 04:01 PM   #49

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Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post
I cannot see the book from the link, can you quote the relevant part please?
Sure.

Here is the link:
Average house size of Pompeii

Here is the relevant text:

Quote:
However, if we look at the distribution of public architecture statistically across all units of property we find a very different picture. Wallace-Hadrill ( 1994:72-87) sampled houses in two parts of Pompeii and Herculaneum with a focus on the relationship between the size of a unit and its architectural format. The average size of a house (including its garden) was 271 meters squared but incorporated a vast range of sizes from the smallest shops to the largest houses. The overall distribution of units across the city was not by size and large houses were not found significantly clustered into zones or even in specific streets. The overall pattern was one of a mixture of house sizes along with each other. The sample was divided into four quartiles. The first broadly represented shops with a total lack of public architecture associated with the atrium and an average size of 25 meters square. The second quartile was composed of shops mostly with back rooms and a group of larger properties that included an atrium. The third quartile identified contained properties smaller than the average house size of 271 meters squared and a signifiant portion (60%) contained the functional characteristics of smaller structures in the first two quartiles: shops or workshops within a structure.
However a far greater portion (60%) had attributes of public architecture, including colonnaded gardens and the atria. It is the fourth quartile that includes the largest units and in it public architecture is prevalent, as are fully colonnaded peristyles. On average the units in this quartile contains nearly double the number of rooms of those units in the third quartile. Interestingly, a signifiant number of units in this quartile (19%) contain large horticultural plots- the city block can include the productive countryside. The overall pattern is clear: the larger the unit, the greater the likelihood it would contain the language of public architecture. However, it needs to be observed that this language could be utilized in units of habitation significantly smaller than the average (mean) and well below the median size of units in the sample. The familiar large house of the upper quartile, much studied and often visited by tourists, do not represent the experience of most living in Pompeii- their size combined with public architecture defined them as different and belonging to the world of the elite.

.....

As we can see, the average house size is a flawed engineered comparison by Guaporense, because he uses the average size of ALL structures of the classical world, including garden plots and large public buildings, to compare with the average housing size of the landed gentry & non-nobility of the 19th century Europe.

Also note, that there is no relationship between the average dwelling size and the material worth of a society. The average house size in Kolkata is twice that of Vancouver, including apartments (there are no bachelor-pads in kolkata, they are common in Vancouver), yet Vancouver is almost 10x richer in per capita income than Kolkata. Therefore, the correlation between average home size and net income is definitively not established.

Last edited by Lord_of_Gauda; November 1st, 2015 at 04:04 PM.
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Old December 11th, 2016, 04:15 AM   #50
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My city.
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