marjaerwin: (Default)
I went over the figures again, comparing info for slaves's rations as well as soldiers's rations. I don't know the appropriate price for olive oil, but I suspect that it was higher, and I suspect the slave population was even higher, than my last estimate.

(In case it wasn't clear, I think it is important to understand the size and structure of Roman slavery in order to study resistance to it.)

Roman Diet and Roman Slave Populations, 200 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.

Surviving Roman and Hellenistic sources suggest that agricultural slavery was strongly associated with certain industries, including wine and olive oil in the food industries, both cash crops, and wool in the clothing industry. Surviving Roman sources list rations for Roman slaves, and Jonathan Roth reconstructs rations for Roman soldiers, and surviving late Roman sources list the prices for Roman foods, which strongly suggest the relative labor requirements for growing and processing these foods.

Since the Roman Republic exported wine and imported grain, the relative labor requirements probably understate the relative number of slaves.

Since the Roman Republic was a pre-industrial society, the food industries were the largest part of the economy, and the proportion of slaves in the food industry, keeping in mind probably higher proportions of slaves in the clothing industries and certain other industries, should indicate the proportion of slaves in the entire economy.

Jonathan Roth's Reconstruction of Military Rations

Jonathan Roth offers the following reconstruction of the daily ration:

1. Grain 850 g/day 2 sextarii
or Bread 850 "
or Biscuit 650 "
2. Meat 160 1/2 libra
3. Vegetables 40-50 1/3 sextarius
4. Cheese 27 1 uncia
5. Olive Oil 40 1 1/2 unciae
6. Wine 160 1/2 sextarius
or Vinegar 160 1/2 sextarius
7. Salt 40 ?

Of course soldiers were not expected to support dependents out of these rations.

Ulrike Roth's Reconstruction of Slave Rations

Cato offers the following figures for the daily rations:

1. Wheat av. 900 g/day 3-5 modii per month, just over 1 1/2-2 1/2 sextarii per day
3. Vegetables ? sparingly
5. Olive Oil ? sparingly
6. Wine av. 160 1/2-1 1/2 sextarii per day
7. Salt ? 1 modius per year

Ulrike Roth suggests that the workers were expected to support dependents out of these rations.

Early and Late Imperial Prices for these Rations

Diocletianus's edict on maximum prices is the best available source for relative prices in the Roman Empire. It dates to the late Roman Empire, so we would have to adjust for hyperinflation to estimate nominal prices in the early Roman Empire or the late Roman Republic. For the ingredients listed above:

1. Grain 100 d/camp modius for wheat, and 6 d/camp modius for barley; assuming wheat
2. Meat 12 d/libra for pork, and 8 d/libra for beef; assuming beef
3. Vegetables 60 d/camp modius for beans and lentils
4. Cheese 8 d/libra for fresh cheese
5. Olive Oil 24 d/sextarius for ordinary olive oil
6. Wine 8 d/sextarius for ordinary wine
7. Salt 100 d/camp modius for salt (?)

1. Grain 850 g wheat 8.33 d/day, late 0.44-0.50 s/day, early Empire
2. Meat 160 g beef 4.00 d/day
3. Vegetables 40 g lentils 1.25 d/day
4. Cheese 27 g cheese 0.67 d/day
5. Olive Oil 40 g olive oil 3.00 d/day (?)
6. Wine 160 g wine 4.00 d/day
7. Salt 40 g salt 0.40 d/day (?)

A soldier's ration cost about 21.65 denarii/day in Diocletianus's time, or 1.21 sestertii/day in Augustus's time. Army records from Aegyptus from 81 C.E. suggest that soldiers had about 0.66 sestertii/day deducted to cover rations, which would be below cost. A slave's ration was probably cheaper, if it had less or no meat.

About 32% of the cost of the soldier's ration came from the wine and olive oil industries associated with slave labor. Given the similar amounts of wine in soldiers' rations and slaves', and the unknown amounts of olive oil in slaves', it is likely that these were typical diets for most Italians. And given that the Romans exported wine and imported grain and various other foods, it is likely that more than 32% of the Italian agricultural economy relied on slave labor and more than 32% of the Italian population were enslaved.

Major Sources

Robert Allen, "How Prosperous were the Romans?:
Evidence from Diocletian's Price Edict (AD 301)," 2009.
in Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson, Quantifying the Roman Economy.
Peter Herz, "Finances and Costs of the Roman Army," 2011.
in Paul Erdkamp, A Companion to the Roman Army.
Dominic Rathbone, "Earnings and Costs: Living Standards and the Roman Economy
(First to Third Centuries AD)," 2009.
in Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson, Quantifying the Roman Economy.
Jonathan Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War, 1999.
Ulrike Roth, "The Female Slave in Roman Agriculture: Changing the Default," 2003.
marjaerwin: (Default)
It is still unclear just how many people were enslaved in the Roman Republic. Walter Scheidel estimates 1.2 million people, about 20% of the low-count estimated total population, at any given time, in mainland Italia in the late Republic and early Empire.

I get the impression that slavery was associated with cash crops, in the food industry, and with wool, in the clothing industry. Diodorus certainly emphasizes the fact that the Romans in Sicilia used slaves as shepherds, and the slave-plantation manuals emphasize wine and olive oil.

I can't be sure how much of the economy these accounted for. Going by Jonathon Roth's recunstruction of Roman military rations, the olive oil and wine account for about 27% of the food costs, although it would seem the army subsidized food costs. In Italia, wool and wool-working probably account for more than 50% of the clothing costs. In Aegyptus, with the better records, linen accounted for more, and soldiers often paid more than the standard 181 1/2 sestertii on clothing including shoes and socks.

On the whole, I think that the 'traditional' interpretation that slaves accounted for somewhere around 33% of the Italian population seems more plausible than the newer estimates that they accounted for around 20% of the Italian population.

I admit this is a very tentative estimate.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I've done a bit of demographic research, mostly on the Mediterranean and Europe. Anyway, typical estimates of life expectancy:

Hellas, 330s B.C.E.: 25 years. (Mogens Herman Hansen, The Shotgun Method, p. 55.)

England, 1270s: 25 years. (Quoted in Ole Benedictow, The Black Death, p. 252.)

Europe, 1390s to 1540s: 20-25 years. (Benedictow, p. 251.)

Norway, 1660s: <26 years. (Benedictow, p. 250.)

France, 1700: 25 years. (Benedictow, p. 250.)

Norway, 1750s, 35 years. (Benedictow, p. 250.)

France, 1780s: 29 years. (Benedictow, p. 250.)

India, 1911: 22-24 years under colonialism. (Benedictow, p. 250.)

Of course, Europe had a particularly bad disease environment. It's quite likely that the Americas had on the whole a higher life expectancy, before European colonization, smallpox, and other European diseases. I don't know how to eveluate the sources available; some papers suggest 20 years, but that's worse than Europe, when the disease environment was better than Europe, so that seems less-than-trustworthy. I just don't see how it's racist or colonialist to think in terms of 40 years instead of 80 years.


Apr. 18th, 2014 10:40 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)

I think I've already mentioned that I'm working on Tatchanka!, a game of two campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution and Civil War, in 1917 to 1921. I just wanted to give you a heads-up. A pre-order would help me, of course, and if you have any playtesting experience, that could help the game and the other players.

It's on the publisher's website here:

I should add that Tatchanka! is only a game of part of the military revolution, capturing weapons, forming armies, fighting opposing armies, and seizing or liberating territory; it is not a game of the social revolution, and players will not be redistributing land, rebuilding society amid the war.

Legion Wargames is a small mainstream publisher.

Tatchanka includes four scenarios depicting two key military campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution, when independence forces, first the nationalist-led Directory, and second the anarchist-led Makhnovists, had their best chance to hold off both the Red Army and the Armed Forces of South Russia, to win either independence or autonomy and the continuation of the Ukrainian revolution.

Fall of the Directory depicts the crisis between December 1918 and March 1919, as the Directory tried to consolidate their position, while the Bolsheviks and the Volunteers invaded Ukraine. Three players control the opposing armies.

The Road to Freedom? depicts the period between September 1919 and November 1919, as the Makhnovist forces broke through the Volunteer positions, returned to their home ground near Katerynoslav, Oleksandrisk and Hulyai Pole, and raided Volunteer supply bases and headquarters. Two players control the opposing armies.

The Bolshevik Advance depicts the period between December 1919 and January 1920, as the Bolsheviks pursued the Volunteer Army after taking Orel, Kyiv and Kharkiv, and the Bolsheviks tried to regain control of Ukraine. At the same time the Volunteers tried to crush the Makhnovists and to stop the Bolsheviks. Three players control the opposing armies.

Rising Against the Volunteer Army depicts the entire period from September 1919 through January 1920, combining The Road to Freedom? and The Bolshevik Advance. Two or three players may control the opposing armies.

Tatchanka! provides each side with troop units, mostly infantry and cavalry, as well as some tatchanka or cart-mounted machine gun units, in proportion to the numbers they were able to recruit, train, and, this was the decisive problem, equip. Each troop unit represents about two thousand combatants; given that regimental strengths varied wildly, that would be one of the stronger infantry regiments, two or more of the weaker infantry regiments, one of the stronger cavalry brigades, or two or more of the weaker cavalry brigades. Tatchanka! also provides each side with limited numbers of gunboat units, train units, and in some cases tank units, army headquarters, and arms stockpiles. Tatchanka! does not include supply units, apart from the arms stockpiles, but gives the better-supplied forces, especially the Entente-supported Volunteers and the rest of the Armed Forces of South Russia with combat bonuses.

Tatchanka! does not include the tactical-operational problems of the period, although it tries to cover the strategic problems facing each side. The combat system should still yield historical advance rates, breakthroughs, and losses, with average luck and historical strategies. The movement system does allow historical advance rates, the ability to slip through thinly-screened sectors of the enemy line, and the ability to use rail, river, and sea movement.

Tatchanka! includes two maps, covering the areas of each campaign. Tatchanka! allows about seven to eight days per turn and twenty miles/thirty-two kilometers per hex.

Tatchanka! is fairly simple by wargame standards, but it could still be hard to learn the game without wargaming experience. I don't know.

Tatchanka! also includes some red counters for the Bolsheviks and green counters for the Zelenyists. I have asked and been assured that the shades are distinct enough for colorblind players, but even so, I think I need to be up front in case it is an issue for some players.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I'm surprised that some people defend it. Do they get their Spanish history from Franco-era textbooks or from Pam Geller? I'm not an expert on Spanish history, but still...

From several posts starting here:

Spain WAS oppressed for 800 years by Muslims.

As in the land? Or as in the Spanish people, many of whom were Muslim? Or do you think the Muslims, and Jews, and non-Roman Christians weren’t really Spanish people? Spain was oppressed by its nobility, of course, like the rest of Europe and the Mediterranean.

The inquisition was a reaction to this oppression.

Nobody expects someone to try to defend the Spanish Inquisition! The Inquisition itself was founded after the fall of Granada, and can hardly be counted as a ‘reaction’ to supposed Muslim ‘oppression.’ It was an instrument of oppression and genocide. The predecessors of the Inquisition go back before the Islamic conquest. So neither way are your claims true.

who is trying to justify genocide? i am just pointing out that the inquisition did not simply appear in a vacuum.

do you actually know the history of spain? it was conquered and oppressed by muslims.

it took the spanish 800 years to reclaim their land after the conquest happened.

I am not an expert on the history of Spain, but I seem to have a better idea of it than you.

In the century before the Islamic conquest, the Catholic monarchy had oppressed Jews and non-Roman Christians. During one of the recurring civil wars, an Islamic army landed in Spain, and conquered most of the country. At first the Islamic rulers were relatively tolerant. Later some other Islamic rulers would oppress Christians and not-their-sect Muslims. Gradually Christian rulers reconquered Spain. In some cases, they required Spanish Muslims to convert or go into exile.

In religious terms, there were periods of toleration and periods of oppression on both sides. It makes as little sense to speak of 779 years of Muslim oppression [including periods where most of Spain was under Catholic rule, and periods of toleration] as it would to speak of 1381 years of Catholic oppression [including periods where most of Spain was under Muslim rule, and periods of toleration]. It’s unfair to both.
marjaerwin: (Default)
So there are a lot of uncertainties about the events. Only fragments of Sallust’s histories survive, and that leaves much later sources from Plutarch’s lives and Appian’s histories, inter alia.

Appian mentions free rebels in one line. Diodorus mentions free rebels in three other uprisings, so it’s likely that there were some free rebels, but it’s unclear how many.

Sallust mentions Galli and Germani among the rebels. Plutarch also mentions Thraci. None of the sources mention Graeci or Asiaci, although recent Roman campaigns had enslaved tens of thousands of people in the East. None of the sources mention Italiaci, although most of the slaves in Roman Italia had grown up in Italia.

A better understanding of how many slaves there were in Roman Italia, and how many people, slave and free, joined the revolt, and what their backgrounds were, would be a good thing.
marjaerwin: (Default)
From his History of the Arians:

But the inheritors of the opinions and impiety of Eusebius and his fellows, the eunuch Leontius, who ought not to remain in communion even as a layman, because he mutilated himself that he might henceforward be at liberty to sleep with one Eustolium, who is a wife as far as he is concerned, but is called a virgin.

And from his Defense of his Flight:

Leontius for instance being censured for his intimacy with a certain young woman, named Eustolium, and prohibited from living with her, mutilated himself for her sake, in order that he might be able to associate with her freely. He did not however clear himself from suspicion, but rather on this account he was [temporarily] degraded from his rank as Presbyter.

Leontia was bishop of Antioch from 344 to 358. She used her boiname Leontius in the role, and her ownname is unknown, so at best we can call her Leontia. It is unclear whether she castrated herself and married her partner before or after this was forbidden to presbyters and bishops. Note that judging by this translation [in the Schaff version], Athanasius degenders both of them, using male pronouns and her boiname for Leontia, as well as a neuter name for Eustolia.
marjaerwin: (Default)
No, the war was not about "states' rights," it was about slavery.

For decades the slaveholders in the South had sought to expand slavery into the West and impose slavery on the North.

If they had cared about "states' rights," they wouldn't have forced the Fugitive Slave Act and the Mexican War, and wouldn't have sent federal marshals to force Massachusetts to comply with the Fugitive Slave Act. If they had cared about "states' rights" they wouldn't have invaded Kansas in 1854 and neutral Kentucky in 1861. If they had cared about local autonomy they would not have invaded eastern Tennessee or western Virginia in 1861.

But they went to war for slavery, by their own admission. It's in the various articles of secession and the Cornerstone Speech.

Now it's easy to understand why Southern institutions push this lie, but it's harder to understand why the wider public has bought into the lie. I think it absolves the Southern politicians for the war, but just as importantly, it absolves their Northern counterparts for turning their backs on reconstruction, land reform, and civil rights for the freed victims of the slave system.

Inspired by the recent Salon excerpt from Tracy Thompson's The New Mind of the South

And by James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me

By the way, tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day. Given the topic, let's remember that Saint Patrick was himself enslaved by Irish raiders for six years before escaping.
marjaerwin: (Default)
cross-posted from my tumblr:

A few weeks ago, someone argued that the phrase "to side eye" originated in African-American Vernacular English, and its use in other dialects is appropriation. Now I'm pretty sure I'd grown up with the phrase "to side eye" meaning "to look askance," and I'm surprised to hear that using my native dialect is appropriating from someone else's dialect. It appears to have had other meanings in seventeenth through nineteenth century texts, and first appears in its present meaning in nineteenth or twentieth century texts.

English is a fairly diverse language. Unfortunately, many dialects weren't written languages until recently, and one dialect, Estuary English, became the most respectable written language for some time, so that the peculiarities of Estuary English became the measure of correct English. Most dialects were rhotic, even in Britain, until the last century, but Estuary English was non-rhotic, and influenced others. Most dialects retained certain features which Estuary English has lost. North American English also borrowed from Dutch, German, and Yiddish, which has probably reinforced some of the irregular grammatical elements in the language. Gullah has a more complicated tense system, influenced by West African languages, than other dialects of North American English. North American English has a more complicated tense system, not as closely assimilated to Latin, than British English. It's one reason why British people sometimes stumble over the distinction between 'got' and 'gotten.'

English contains more diversity than English writing records. And sometimes terms and constructions drop out of written use while remaining in spoken use.

English also borrows. A lot. And sometimes it has been because of the English being colonizers, and sometimes the English being colonized, as we see with the Norse and Norman words all over the language.

If the same expression appears in African-American Vernacular English, and other dialects, there are several possibilities involved. First, both dialects could have inherited these from early modern English, while other dialects lost these. Second, both dialects could have derived these from early modern English, while other dialects did not. The verb "to side eye" is such an obvious derivation from the verb "to eye," that I suspect that is what happened, although some dialects developed another verb "to side eye" with different meanings on the same derivation ["side" as in "secondarily" vs. "side" as in "askance"]. Third, one dialect could have borrowed from the other, or both dialects could have borrowed from a third. But appropriation depends on the circumstances of borrowing, and yes, the time of borrowing. If someone has grown up with the borrowed expression, then they probably aren't appropriating it, even if their parents were.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I'm sick of it.

If you make a spurious historical argument, you should expect people to challenge the argument. If you want to say that "burnt at the stake" is a gendered expression, you ought to be ready to accept that sometimes it's not.

If you insist that western history isn't western history, I guess we can debate the boundaries of western history.

If you tell me that events that still shape the present, and that still mean a lot of pain to a lot of us are "utterly irrelevant" and "an obnoxious derail" you are at once appropriating and erasing my religious heritage and you are erasing me.

See here:

And here:
marjaerwin: (Default)
I often encounter a meta-narrative about western religious history, where the spread of Christianity is identified with the rise of patriarchy, with intensified religious conflict, and with witch-hunting and sado-spirituality. It's taken for obvious common knowledge. It's also dreadfully wrong.

First of all, most though not all known European societies were patriarchal. In early Rome, the legal principle of patria postestas is patriarchy. Most were also patrilineal, though some, such as the Picts and the Goths at opposite ends of 'barbarian' Europe were probably at least partially matrilineal. Male-centered religion had a much wider public role than female-centered religion. In Rome, female-centered religion was tolerated within certain limited bounds. The priestesses of Vesta were allowed, or required, to remain unmarried because the first priestesses of Vesta had been the wives of the kings, and too many influential men would lose out if another man became king. The priestesses of Cybele were permitted, but subjected to a Roman male high priest. In the barbaricum, female-centered spirituality could develop further. The Weilbark cemetery at Pruszcz Gdanski might possibly represent a female-centered community.

Secondly, for reasons that should be obvious, sado-spirituality is most associated with warrior religions. Woþins-worship in Germanic-speaking Europe is an extreme example. Christianity began in opposition to warrior religion, rejecting violence and loyalty oaths. After Constantine, Christianity began to twist itself into warrior religion, beginning with violence, oaths, and the language of warrior religion [hailags instead of weihs, etc.], and culminating in sado-spiritual horrors such as penal atonement, until there was no longer any difference between Jesus and the gods of war and madness. The wrongness, it burns:

scarcely any aspect of their religion so facilitated the conversion of the Germans to Christianity as the apparent similarity of their hanged god to the crucified Christ. [Neumann, quoted critically in Daly, 1978, p. 80]

Thirdly, the witch-hunts began in pagan Europe. Jordanes attributes them to Filimer, a pagan Gothic king, but Jordanes is untrustworthy in this period of his history. In Germanic paganism, some such conflict can be inferred from the emergence of Woþins [Odin] as a new major god in the Roman era, and from the general subjection of the *Wannos [Vanir] to the *Ansos [Aesir]. In Gothic Christianity, however, there exist martyrologies of Christians killed in religious persecutions. For example, the killing of Saba and three others, by wood and water, in two separate events in two separate sources.

I would suggest that:

1. The witch-hunting began with conflict between Woþins-worship and older pagan religions.

2. The witch-hunting was expanded to include conflicts between Woþins-worship and early anti-militarist Christianity, with Christians being killed as witches.

3. The witch-hunting was taken up by later militarist pseudoChristianity, as it took up the other sado-spiritual practices of warrior religion.
marjaerwin: (Default)
"Every culture before us for thousands of years has supported the concept that marriage is only between one man and one woman."

Not true. Many cultures have taken polygyny, with one husband and several wives, for granted. In the bible [since the above claim most often comes from self-described Christians], Jacob has two wives, David has multiple wives, and Solomon has hundreds. Of course, in David's and Solomon's cases, it is tied to the power and corruption of kingship.

"This arrangement has been the building block of society since the start of civilization."

People said that about monarchy [obviously ignoring the facts] and about slavery too. In early Roman law, wives, children, and slaves were the property of their husband, father, or master, respectively [the principle of patria potestas].


It would help to have a list of what people have regarded as universal necessary building-blocks of society: slavery, feudalism, monarchy, aristocratic rule, patria potestas, raping slaves, raping womyn, raping children, beating children, female genital mutilation, the gender binary, warfare, ethnic/racial apartheid, forced birth, infanticide, human sacrifice, noble lies...
marjaerwin: (Default)
In early August, the two Gothic armies converged from Cabyle [Yambol] and near Dibaltum [Debelt] towards Hadrianopolis [Edirne] and Ostodizum/Nice [Havsa]. [For simplicity, these will be described as the western and eastern armies, because I'm not convinced that the former was more 'Thervingian' or the latter was more 'Greuthungian.'] At the same time the Roman armies concentrated near Hadrianopolis and advanced against their Gothic opponents.

The Antonine Itinerary lists a road from Cabyle to Hadrianopolis, but archaeologists have not yet located it. If the road passed west of the Tonzus [Tundzha] River, it could have passed immediately west of the Tonzus Gorge. In this case, the Gothic army would need to cross to the east bank of the Tonzus River, preferably at a safe distance from the Roman Army, possibly north of the Tonzus Gorge. If the road passed east of the Tonzus [Tundha] River, it could have passed immediately east of the Tonzus Gorge, or through the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass. In this case, the Gothic army would avoid the need to cross the river.

The Antonine Itinerary lists a road from Anchialus and Dibaltum to Ostodizum/Nice, but archaeologists have only located parts of it. Konstantin Gospodinov argues that the road passed through the [Strandzha] Pass and then forked, with the main branch leading to Hadrianopolis and a secondary branch leading to Ostodizum/Nice.

Ammianus notes that Valens stationed light infantry and light cavalry to watch the passes through the Sakar and Strandzha mountains. The Roman outposts were unable to stop the Gothic armies from crossing the passes [on about August 5th]. The western Gothic army kept fifteen miles from Hadrianopolis while marching towards Nice. They had marched some three days from the pass when Fritigern sent a presbyter to Valens to negotiate [on August 8th]. The next day Valens and the Roman army marched out to attack the western Gothic camp [on August 9th].

Ammianus notes that the Roman army set out shortly after dawn. Ammianus' text is unclear whether the Roman army marched for eight miles or eight hours before reaching the Gothic camp. However, he states that the Romans marched through the middle of the day, apparently states that the armies fought through the afternoon, though his semi-astrological language is again unclear, and states that Valens fell after nightfall. I think this suggests a march of eight hours, and closer to fifteen miles than eight.

[Muratçali] and [Demirhanli] are the most widely-suggested battlefields. Simon MacDowall argues for [Muratçali], while Ferdinand Rünkel and Peter Donelly argue for [Demirhanli].

[Muratçali] is a defensible site, with reliable water supplies, and with woods and swamps impeding any approach from the south. But if the western Gothic army is marching towards Nice, and keeping its distance from the Roman army, [Muratçali] is in the wrong direction. [Muratçali] is about ten miles from [Edirne], ten miles from the Tonzus Gorge, and twelve miles from the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass.

[Demirhanli] is not as defensible, but it is in the right direction. [Demirhanli] is about ten miles from [Edirne], nineteen miles from the Tonzus Gorge, and seventeen miles from the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass.

Ammianus notes that the Gothic armies camped within a rampart of carts and wagons. Zosimus notes that the Gothic armies had many wagons, but does not note the rampart. Oxen were the most common draft animals in the Roman world. Oxen would limit the pace of any large Gothic army.

I suspect the western Gothic army arrived by the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass following the Cabyle-Hadrianopolis road. Once they were out of the mountains, they reached rolling hills cut by several northeast-southwest streams. A direct route towards Ostodizum/Nice would have required repeated zigs across the streams and zags along the ridges. An alternative route would take one long zig making for the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road below the mountains, perhaps somewhere around modern [Geçkinli], and then one long zag along the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road.

As noted above, Ammianus states that the western Gothic army kept fifteen miles from Hadrianopolis. Depending on the location of the Tarpudisum-Ostodizum road, this alternative route would bring them no closer than thirteen miles and no farther than seventeen miles from Hadrianopolis, while an approach through [Demirhanli] would put them only ten miles from Hadrianopolis. More importantly, this route would have kept the western Gothic army farther from the Roman armies and closer to the eastern Gothic army arriving by the [Strandzha] Pass.

On flat ground, oxen can move about twelve miles each day, usually at one-and-a-half to two miles an hour; allowing two miles of work to form the wagon rampart each day, the army can move about ten miles each day. Climbing [Golam Dervent] Pass would take several hours' work, and the oxen could only move about three miles per day. Once they had topped the pass, they could move faster and might camp one or two miles south of the pass. As they descend into the plain, they can approach ten miles per day. Crossing [Syrt Chiftlik], [Syrt Mach], and the other ridges would take an extra half-hour's work each.

If they cross [Golem Dervent] Pass on [August 5th], they can move about twenty-five miles, crossing five ridges, in the next three days [August 6th through 8th]. A direct route, if it were practical, would leave them only about five miles from Nice [Havsa]. An alternative route, cutting towards the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road, could at best reach modern [Haskoy] or at worst approach modern [Musuldzha].

I suspect the most likely battlefield is north of modern [Haskoy] and on the ridge west of the [Suloglu] River, especially if the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road ran west of the river. No one spot stands out as more defensible than the rest of the ridge, although the area south and east of [Gechkinli] looks moderately defensible.

The largest uncertainty concerns Ammianus' meaning as he refers to 'the next three days,' probably from August 6th through August 8th. I assume he is referring to the next three days after the Goths cross the [Golem Dervent] Pass but I cannot be certain of this.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I've been working on my map of the late Roman Balkans. The city sizes are one of the harder challenges. Many of the cities have been built over and/or destroyed by stone robbers. Some of the other cities have suffered erosion from the Danube or other rivers.

Area in hectares is usually the best available clue to population; Dintchev (1999) "Classification of the Late Antique Cities in the Dioceses of Thracia and Dacia" and Karagiorgou (2001) have argued that defended area is a reasonable proxy for built-up area and population.

I have encountered many problems finding information on the size of Roman cities in the late fourth century, but the following tentative figures, cobbled together from multiple sources which may not share the same methods, should help with the relative sizes of the Balkan and west-Asian cities:

Constantinopolis – around 1,000 hectares within the walls of Constantine.
Corinthus – around 400 hectares before fifth and sixth-century reductions.
Efesus – around 300 hectares.
Thessalonica – around 200 hectares.
Nicopolis in Epirus, Larissa, Demetrias, Cyzicus, Rhodus, etc. - 100 to 200 hectares.
Almost all inland cities in Asia proper – less than 150 hectares.
Almost all inland cities in Europe – less than 75 hectares.

A few inland cities seem to have anomalously large defended areas – Viminiacum and Laodicea seem puzzling – but they were probably no larger than other inland provincial capitols.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Walter Scheidel, in his 2007 working paper “Roman population size: the logic of the debate” notes that the best reconstructions of Roman population distribution seem to clash with the best reconstructions of medieval and early modern population distribution. He presents the following estimates:

Peninsular Italy:

4.5 million to 5.5 million in the 1st Century CE (low count)
4.1 million to 5.0 million in the 13th Century CE

Cisalpine Gaul

1.5 million to 2.5 million in the 1st Century CE (low count)
6.0 million to 7.0 million in the 13th Century CE (?)

Higher population counts leave the distribution problem unresolved, and create other problems. Scheidel considers this one of the major problems in understanding the demography of the Roman world.

His working papers are online at

It's fascinating, but I think Leslie White was three-quarters right with his plow theory. He argued that the heavy plow was introduced in the 6th and 7th Centuries, revolutionizing northern European agriculture, and spreading Slavic language and culture with the technology. In fact, the heavy plow incorporated new technologies, such as the coulter and the mouldboard, which developed over the entire 1st Millennium CE.

Although this probably misses much of the complexity of the issue, I think it makes sense to distinguish two agricultural traditions:

An older agriculture, which developed before the 1st Millennium CE, which was adapted to lighter soils, which used lighter plows, square fields, and two-field farming.

A newer agriculture, which developed during the 1st Millenium CE, which would adapt to heavier soils, which would develop heavier plows, strip fields, and in its later version three-field farming.

If we look at soil maps, it's clear that most arable land – excepting very rocky soils – in mediterranean Europe consists of alluvial soils and relatively light soils. Most arable land in northern Europe consists of heavy soils, including forest soils and wetland soils. About two-thirds of the arable land in Cisalpine Gaul had forest soils.

Some loess soils were accessible to the older agriculture, but most northern European soils – and Cisalpine Gallic soils – were marginal or inaccessible to the older agriculture. As the newer agriculture developed, it seems to have allowed increased settlement density in the intermediate soils, and gradual colonization of the heavier soils.

Pre-Roman and Roman settlement was generally concentrated in alluvial soils and other light soils. But, for example, Chernyakhov-culture settlement was generally concentrated near intermediate forest soils, such as those of Bukovina, circling the Carpathians and north of the Balkan mountains – as in the settlements outside Nicopolis, at Gradishte, and at Veliki Preslav.

When the newer agriculture was beginning to develop, it allowed increased settlement of intermediate soils, such as the Gothic settlement of Bukovina; as it continued to develop, it allowed increased settlement of heavy soils, such as the Slavic settlement of the Black Earth.

The newer agriculture allowed a population explosion in northern Europe – perhaps doubling or tripling between the 1st and 4th Centuries and doubling or tripling again between the 4th and 10th Centuries. But the newer agriculture disrupted existing field systems and, by opening new land to settlement, weakened established landlords and, it would seem, emperors.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I don't get why anyone who identify as liberals or as leftist would identify with Wilsonian Progressivism. Let's look at his legacy:

1. Intervention in the First World War.

2. The Espionage and Sedition Acts.

3. Militant support for segregation.

4. The First Red Scare.

I think Naomi Wolf's new column shows how these are playing out today:

It is disappointing to see the comments, where some are turning to knee-jerk defense of Wilson and Wilsonian Progressivism.
marjaerwin: (Default)
It has been a busy week, between working on *Tatchanka* and preparing for the trip. But *Tatchanka* is coming along nicely, and I've updated the maps and counters.

Hmmm... internal server error... I don't think I'll be able to show you. Sorry.

If you are interested, I'd suggest looking at the thread on Consimworld. *Tatchanka* attempts to model some of the military campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921.


marjaerwin: (Default)

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