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Quantifying the Roman EconomyMethods and Problems$
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Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199562596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562596.001.0001

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Earnings and Costs: Living Standards and the Roman Economy

Earnings and Costs: Living Standards and the Roman Economy

Chapter:
(p.299) 15 Earnings and Costs: Living Standards and the Roman Economy
Source:
Quantifying the Roman Economy
Author(s):

Dominic Rathbone

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562596.003.0015

This chapter presents the few wheat prices known from the Roman Empire, military and some other official and private earnings, and a small selection of items from Diocletian's Edict on Maximum Prices. It attempts to assess our ability to determine whether there was an integrated market for goods and labour in the Roman Empire, what the living standards of different groups were, and whether significant changes across time are visible in market integration or living standards. The conclusion is that the Romans acted and thought as if the empire was an integrated market, although there are indications of regional zones of prices and, more sharply, wages, that the prices in Diocletian's Edict appear to be unhistorical, inconsistent and unreliable, and that there was a dramatic rise in the purchasing power of gold in late antiquity.

Keywords:   coinage, Diocletian, Edict on Maximum Prices, earnings, living standards, gold, wheat prices

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