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The Stakes of Cliometrics in Ancient History

  • Claude Diebolt

According to Finley, markets and economic motivations played little, if any, role in ancient economies. Status and civic ideology governed the allocation of scarce resources. Hence, the application of economic theory to the ancient economy was at best a futile exercise and at worst a source of grave misunderstandings. Temin’s seminal and continued contributions to the field lead to the opposite conclusion and, as in the myth of Sisyphus, the boulder seems again to be at the bottom of the hill! My feeling is that the Gordian knot remains the same now as over the past decades: should cliometrics be used in the social sciences/humanities in general, and ancient history especially?

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Article provided by Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC) in its journal Historical Social Research (Section 'Cliometrics').

Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 350-361

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Handle: RePEc:afc:histor:v:36:y:2011:i:3:p:350-361
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cliometrie.org

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  1. Jean Luc De Meulemeester & Claude Diebolt, 2007. "How much could economics gain from history: the contribution of cliometrics," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13500, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  3. Peter Temin, 2001. "A Market Economy in the Early Roman Empire," Economics Series Working Papers 2001-W39, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Dora Costa & Jean-Luc Demeulemeester & Claude Diebolt, 2007. "What is ‘Cliometrica’?," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(1), pages 1-6, April.
  5. Paul A. David, 2011. "Path Dependence: A Foundational Concept for Historical Social Science," Chapters, in: Law, Economics and Evolutionary Theory, chapter 4 Edward Elgar.
  6. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  7. Temin, Peter, 2002. "Price Behavior in Ancient Babylon," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 46-60, January.
  8. Peter Temin, 2001. "A Market Economy in the Early Roman Empire," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _039, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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