Rosshofgasse (Schnitz), Seminarraum S 01
Fachbereich Alte Geschichte, Sabine Huebner
Papyri and climate history. Combining data in the assessment of the Roman Egypt agricultural economy
Nowadays, talking about agriculture and the sequence of actions and processes that enable the soil to blossom seasonally and a seed to grow and germinate into a ripe crop, the connection with nature’s rhythms and cycles has become more and more evanescent. Technologies and human intervention allow the modern farmer to overcome and compensate almost completely for potential natural and climatic events affecting the agricultural balances and production and the very concept of periodicity of the crops fades away progressively. But how was it back then when nature, changing seasons and climate were the only agents ruling the rhythms of farming? Thanks to its richness of evidence, Roman Egypt provides unparalleled testing ground. Thus, the Egyptian corpus of papyri providing valuable information on the many aspects somehow connected to the agricultural sector has been selected as field of observation to assess the deep correlation between agriculture along with its economy and climate events. Prices and costs, dates and seasonality, timing and rhythms of labour, trade and production are certainly some of the different notions of the ancient economy that can be extracted from the scrutiny of the extant evidence and single, thorough studies have been conducted on each of them. However, first of all, they should be considered as a whole, as the several outputs of a single equation with an unknown factor, climate. The combined and systematic data analysis will hopefully cast new light on the influences played by external and climatic factor on the agricultural market formation and past economic trends.
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