The Shotgun Method: The Demography of the Ancient Greek City-State Culture

The Shotgun Method: The Demography of the Ancient Greek City-State Culture

The Shotgun Method: The Demography of the Ancient Greek City-State Culture

The Shotgun Method: The Demography of the Ancient Greek City-State Culture

Synopsis

Although the polis, or city-state, defined the essence of classical Greek civilization, evidence of its most basic characteristics is woefully inadequate. Now a leading scholar in the evaluation of data from the ancient world sheds new light on how those units were constituted.

In a work of cutting-edge research, Mogens Herman Hansen develops a novel method for estimating the overall size and local distribution of the Greek population throughout the ancient world--in both the Greek homeland and its colonies--and explains his reconstruction step by step. Reflecting the innovative work of the Copenhagen Polis Centre in its 2004 inventory of archaic and classical Greek city-states, Hansen's book makes it possible for the first time to assess the total population of the ancient Greek world. For 232 out of circa 1,000 city-states, the size of the urban center can be estimated, and for 636 city-states, we have an idea about the size of the territory. Employing a "shotgun method" Hansen derives approximate population figures and argues that, in the age of Alexander the Great, the population of all the Greek city-states must have totaled some 8-10 million people. His new estimates take into account not only adult male citizens, but all inhabitants--citizens, foreigners, and slaves of both sexes and all ages. In addressing often-conflicting views on estimating populations, their distribution in various regions, and their settlement patterns within individual states, Hansen particularly challenges the long-standing opinion that the majority of ancient Greeks lived a rural life outside of poleis, and he calls for a reconsideration of long-held assumptions about the prevalence of a subsistence economy with little long-distance trade. Although quantifications of ancient history are never precise, they can provide us with valuable information about ancient societies. The Shotgun Method is a rigorous evaluation of data that puts antiquity in a new light and provides a new context for understanding many aspects of Greek history.
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