Settlement scaling theory, specialization, and the Greek and Roman world

Author(s): John Hanson

Year: 2017


In the last decade, there has been increasing interest in using urbanism as a means of investigating the economy of the Greek and Roman world. The most recent research on the relationship between urbanization and economic growth suggests that the correlation between them is not as straightforward as once thought. There is a growing corpus of theory, however, that suggests that modern settlements act as ‘social reactors’, which increase the number of opportunities for interactions between individuals, and therefore encourage division of labour and economies of scale, stimulating economic growth. In this talk, I will examine whether the settlements of the Greek and Roman world had a similar effect. To do this, I will estimate the number of professional associations, known as collegia, in a number of sites and use them as a proxy for the number and variety of crafts and trades. This demonstrates that there was a direct relationship between the scale of these settlements and the occupations within them, which is consistent with the models discussed above. This suggests that these settlements might well have made an important contribution to economic growth, which raises important questions about the links between urbanism and the economy over time.

Cite this Record

Settlement scaling theory, specialization, and the Greek and Roman world. John Hanson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429178)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15620