Tag Archives: Roman Empire

The struggle for the means of reproduction

Recently read the sort of work of history I particularly enjoy–one that gets into how past societies and states actually worked. Edited by historians Walter Scheidel and Ian Morris, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium has essays on the Neo-Assyrian, Achaemenid Persian, Athenian, Roman and Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) empires (the last […]

Of copper, tin and iron

The Silk Age of Eurasian trade  may have begun around 220 BC, with the unification of China under imperial rule and the shift to cavalry driving up demand for horses, but trade over long distances began millennia before that. Copper arrives While there is evidence of long-distance trade even among foraging societies–ochre, for example, travelled thousands […]

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold … A post somewhat about China

Historically, taxing land (rents) and trade have been the dominant income sources of rulerships not reliant on labour service (not to be confused with taxes on labour income, which have a different dynamic).* Trade was a particularly attractive source of income because it often involved taxing outsiders. But trade was also mobile–too much tax for […]