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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

Chapter 1 - On Writing Roman Economic History

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Summary

All historical applications of formal economic models require justification – not merely within their own closed system of logic, but in a wider historiographical context which includes serious and thoughtful substantivist critiques of the formalist enterprise more generally and especially of applied economic theory. Even if new institutional economics is not the solution, are there other ways Roman economic historians might use economic theories to better understand the economic choices made by the inhabitants of the ancient world as well as the embedding contexts which channeled such choices? History and economics, despite fundamental differences embedded in each discipline, can meaningfully and symbiotically intersect. Economics offers Roman historians valuable and helpful organizing concepts, so long as these concepts are used within an agenda of historical understanding.