# Peak of the Roman Civilization

• O

#### Olleus

But look at your fascinating chart! Besides there are only 12 months in a year. How many years are there? It only makes sense to use integers to count them, especially when dealing with negative and positive numbers. Also from looking at the chart there is no precise point. When dealing with this approximation, one uses numbers divisible by 10 or in this case 100 with 0 as a dividing point with signed numbers. To my eye 0 is a reasonable approximate maximum. You could say it was sustained until about 100 AD.
The point is that there in no year 0 in any calendar. Whether you think there should be or not is irrelevant here. The year before 1AD is 1BC.

fascinating

• S

#### stevev

The point is that there in no year 0 in any calendar. Whether you think there should be or not is irrelevant here. The year before 1AD is 1BC.
I know that. The graph that was displayed used a zero. It's another way to show dates, which can be treated as points, not intervals on a time line. That's all I was saying. I was using the " year zero" in the sense that the year is named for the time point at the beginning of the one year interval of the year actually named 1 AD. I wasn't serious about doing that although that's how the graph is structured and there's nothing wrong with that.

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• S

#### stevev

Note also that the graph in question is calibrated in years (-100, 0, +100) so it clearly implies a year 0. I have no problem with that so why the complaints? It's an interesting graph although I can't speak to its accuracy.

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• J

#### jalidi

Though the Roman Empire remained powerful and influential for centuries afterwards I agree that the absolute peak was sometime in the first century CE. From the conquest of Macedon in 168 BCE to the looting of the Second Temple in 71 CE, the Romans wouldn't see any real plunder come in the way of military conquests thereafter other than the sole exception of Dacia under Trajan.

The ancient Romans extracted an extraordinary amount of precious metals from the lands they conquered. At one point they owned every single active silver and gold mine in the entire world. They exploited and squeezed everything, everywhere, dry. It was essential to their civilization: the flow of money allowed for the development of infrastructure, roads, temples, public buildings; it also funded the army and government. Most important of all, using the silver denarius as the main trading unit, it underpinned the whole Roman economic system.

I've seen many estimates but some researchers think something on the order of 10-20 billion HS may have been in circulation, and its purity was crucial to the success and continued well-being of the whole market economy. The problem was that they were also spending it on foreign sources. It was flowing to the East, along the Silk Road, in trade for expensive silks, spices, exotic perfumes desired by the Roman elite, flowing away and never returning.

Pliny the Elder noted it as being the cause of a huge problem, estimating that they were collectively spending about 100 million HS a year, 55 of that to India specifically. The silver and gold would leave so there would be that much less available for the economic system. 20 billion might sound like a lot but it all got permanently spent within 200 years. And when it was all gone, so went the trade, and they could no longer rely on taxing trade as a source of imperial revenue, which was significant.

The Emperors, faced with a dwindling money supply, and the silver mines tapping out, were forced to debase the currency. They also increased taxes, not just in the provinces, but eventually even Italy too as they squeezed everyone to pay the bills, sowing much discontent in Roman rule. So the very peak of Roman civilization occurred before that, beginning the decline with Nero's debasement of the silver denarius in 61 or 62 CE.

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stevev