Download Program (PDF)The basic attitude of the world community is that there was very little economic growth before 1800 AD. Even if one accepts the idea, one would still have to admit that England was already a wealthy country in 1700 AD – and thus one wonders about Renaissance Florence, Medieval Regensburg, Charlemagne’s Aix-la-Chapelle, Imperial Rome, Hellenistic Alexandria, Classical Athens, Hammurabi’s Babylon, Egyptian Memphis, Akkadian Agade, Uruk, etc. And that is only the Western story: what about Beijing, Hangzhou, Mohenjo-Daro, etc.? Where does one draw the line? Obviously, economic growth began at some point, for all of these historical developments are part of a tale which began earlier still. But equally obviously, the economic growth of the West in the 19th and 20th centuries was unparalleled and almost unrelated to what we know of ancient civilisations. Thus, the question arises as to what we can say about economic growth (as opposed to economic activity) before the recent outbreak.

This leads to several different sets of questions.

On the one hand, we must ask about the How? What happened? When? Where? Why is it significant? What is relevant?

Is economic development always an urban phenomenon linked to a civilisation which breaks free of the constraints of the agricultural sector? And, what, therefore is the role of agriculture in national income and employment?

Furthermore, we must ask about the phenomenon itself. Where did economic growth begin? How do you define it? What pushes it? What contributes to it? Can you measure or quantify economic growth in Antiquity in a meaningful fashion? What characterises economic growth? What does it mean? What impedes economic growth? Can one separate inequality and economic growth?

And this leads to the most paradoxical of all questions? What does economic stagnation mean? For the modern western world, 1% annual growth is considered disappointing. And yet there can hardly have been very many polities that came anywhere near that rate even at the most accelerated pace of economic growth known from the pre-modern world. And thus – what are we judging and how?

And finally, on the other hand comes the question of just how meaningful economic growth is. Why are we (as a society) accustomed to aiming for economic growth and using it as a measuring stick against which to rate progress? What else should one measure? And are other measures not actually reflections of, or proxies for, economic growth? How important is economic growth?

In this workshop, we will try to confront what we have in the way of evidence with these and other questions.

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16:00 - 16:30
Registration | Coffee
16:30 - 16:45
Michael MeyerInstitut für Prähistorische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin
David Alan WarburtonExcellence Cluster Topoi
16:45 - 17:30
Long-run Growth in Economic Theory
Nikolaus WolfWirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
17:30 - 18:15
18:15 - 20:00
From Babylon to Bernanke: What was Critical, When, and Why?
Key Note Lecture
Larry NealDepartment of Economics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
20:00 - 21:00
09:30 - 09:45
INTRO: Long Term History
David Alan WarburtonExcellence Cluster Topoi
09:45 - 10:15
GREECE: Transformations from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age in Greece: A Model of a Household in an Egalitarian Neolithic Village
Donald W. JonesDepartment of Classics, University of Tennessee
10:15 - 10:45
SUMER: Can Economic Growth be Detected and Quanti ed during the Third Millennium - and if so How?
Piotr SteinkellerDepartment of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, USA
10:45 - 11:15
EGYPT: Usage of Proxy Data for Middle Kingdom Economy: Indications for Economic Growth?
Tobias GutmannÄgyptisches Museum, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
11:15 - 11:45
11:45 - 12:15
ASSYRIA: Trade and Finance among the Old Assyrian Merchants
Jan Gerrit DercksenLeiden Institute for Area Studies, Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands
12:15 - 12:45
ATHENS: Athens over the longue durée
Graham OliverDepartment of Classics, Brown University, Providence, USA
12:45 - 13:15
DISCUSSION: Rome, Middle Ages
13:15 - 14:00
14:00 - 14:15
Introduction to Themes
David Alan WarburtonExcellence Cluster Topoi
14:15 - 14:45
GROWTH: Thinking about Growth
Johannes RengerInstitut für Altorientalistik, Freie Universität Berlin
14:45 - 15:15
LABOUR: The Political Economy of Foreign Labour in Pharaonic Egypt
Christian LangerÄgyptologisches Seminar, Freie Universität Berlin
15:15 - 15:45
15:45 - 16:15
TRADE & INDUSTRY: Metal Usage and Economic Growth in Pre-Ptolemaic Egypt
Elsbeth Margreet van van der WiltTopoi, Freie Universität Berlin
16:15 - 17:00
DISCUSSION: Growth, Labour, Industry in Antiquity
17:00 - 17:30
DISCUSSION: Technology, Innovation
09:30 - 10:00
ADMINISTRATION & ECONOMY: Particularization and Economic Growth as reflected in the Documentation of Late Pre-Sargonic Lagash
Gebhard SelzInstitut für Orientalistik, Universität Wien, Austria
10:00 - 10:30
WARFARE: The Military and the Spread of Private Landed Property
Ingo SchrakampInstitut für Altorientalistik, Freie Universität Berlin
10:30 - 11:00
11:00 - 11:30
TAXATION: The Fiscal State in Late First Millennium BC China
Richard von GlahnDepartment of History, University of California, Los Angeles
11:30 - 12:30
DISCUSSION: Administration, Laws, Welfare, Warfare, Land
12:30 - 13:30
13:30 - 14:00
PRICES: Prices and Equivalencies in Third Millennium Mesopotamia
Hagan BrunkeInstitut für Altorientalistik, Freie Universität Berlin
14:00 - 14:30
MONEY: Silver, Markets and Growth in Pharaonic Egypt
Juan Carlos Moreno-GarcíaCentre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris, France
14:30 - 15:00
15:00 - 15:30
MONEY: Money, Debt and Economic Growth in Greece and Rome (7th c. BCE–1 c. CE)
Alain Bresson Department of Classics, University of Chicago, USA
15:30 - 16:00
DISCUSSION: Detail Questions about Market Prices, the Role of Money, the Nature of Money
16:00 - 16:30
16:30 - 17:00
PERFORMANCE: Growth and Institutional Management of Agricultural Production in Early Third Millennium BC Southern Mesopotamia
Giacomo BenatiDipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà, Università di Bologna, Italy
17:00 - 17:30
DISCUSSION: Performance
17:30 - 18:00
DISCUSSION: Value, Land, Labour, Power, Money, Prices, Moral Values, Legitimacy
09:45 - 10:15
TEXTILES: Textile Production in Southwest China under the Han Dynasty
Xianhua WangDepartment of History, Sichuan University, China
10:15 - 10:45
FINANCE: The Bourse of Babylon Revisted
Alex StomperWirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
10:45 - 11:15
DISCUSSION: Trade & Finance
10:45 - 11:15
11:45 - 12:15
CLIMATE: Constraints on Real Growth: Inter-Annual Climate Variability
Joseph ManningDepartment of History, Yale University, New Haven CT, USA
12:15 - 13:00
DISCUSSION: Land, Labour, Enterprise Crops, Demography, Ecology
13:00 - 14:00
14:00 - 14:30
URBANISATION: A Tale of Two Cities: Economic Growth in Athens and Babylonia Compared
Reinhard PirngruberInstitut für Orientalistik, Universität Wien, Austria
14:30 - 15:30
DISCUSSION: Urbanisation: Cities, Transport Networks, Resources
15:30 - 16:00
16:00 - 17:00
DISCUSSION: General Equilibrium, Markets, Firms, Coase, Malthusian Stagnation
17:00 - 17:30
DISCUSSION: Closing Remarks
18:30 - 20:00
Conference Dinner