tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6588247216777605704.post2452455646229066245..comments2019-07-09T20:53:56.474-04:00Comments on Bryn Mawr Classical Review: 2011.04.09Unknownnoreply@blogger.comBlogger1125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6588247216777605704.post-61666798681258857852011-11-29T16:05:16.744-05:002011-11-29T16:05:16.744-05:00Surely reviewers for BMCR should read the books th...Surely reviewers for BMCR should read the books they review? In <br />reviewing U. Roth (ed.), By the Sweat of your Brow, in BMCR 2011.04.09, <br />K. Harper suggests that M.H. Crawford, in talking of the price of a <br />‘normal’ male slave in classical Athens, might refer to the gold-worker <br />whose sale for 360 drachmae is recorded in the Attic stelai; yet the <br />gold-worker is explicitly excluded from the normal range both on p. 66 <br />and on p. 72. H. also remarks that it would be strange (of MHC) not to <br />notice the 100% premium for skilled workers allowed by Diocletian; yet <br />this premium is explicitly cited on p. 72. Nor did MHC set out to <br />calculate independently the wheat equivalent in metric tons of the <br />maximum price for slaves either in the Prices Edict or in Athens in <br />415-413 BC: we do not know the size of the phormos and it is therefore <br />an illusion to suppose that we have either a normal, or a maximum, or <br />indeed any price for wheat in Athens in 415-413 BC, that can be <br />expressed in relation to any modern measure; for heuristic reasons MHC <br />merely set out to compare Walter Scheidel’s figures, simply adjusting <br />both of them to accommodate the likelihood that a dry measure of ancient <br />wheat weighed ¾ as much as the same dry measure of modern wheat: <br />Scheidel, in Ancient Society 2005 states (p. 11) that “1 drachma <br />customarily bought 7-8 kg” of wheat; multiplying 301 (the agreed maximum <br />‘normal’ price for a slave in the Attic stelai) by 7.5 makes 2257.5 kg; <br />¾ of this, rounded off, = 1.70 metric tons, the figure to which H. <br />inexplicably objects. If the figures are in absolute terms implausible <br />- and there is at the moment no way in which this might be demonstrated <br />– that does not affect the subsequent argument.<br /><br />H. also appears to claim independence in stating that with the Prices <br />Edict the ratio between maxima is alone meaningful; yet there is on p. <br />69 of By the Sweat of your Brow a discussion precisely of the <br />relationship between the maxima for slaves and wheat (and oil) in the <br />Prices Edict and at Athens, with the explicit conclusion that the <br />figures at Athens are too unsafe to be useable. It is understandable <br />that H. should be reluctant to disbelieve in the fairy-story published <br />in Historia 2010; but so far from the demonstration that slaves in <br />classical Athens were cheap relative to slaves in Diocletian’s empire <br />still standing, it remains flat on its face.Michael H Crawfordnoreply@blogger.com