Modern Economics and the Ancient World: Were the Ancients Rational Actors? is the title of an upcoming conference organized by Prof. Dr. Sven Günther, Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China & Dr. Roland Oetjen, University of Rostock, Germany.
Modern Economics and the Ancient World: About
Were the ancients rational actors? Is the rational-actor model a suitable tool to analyze their behavior? We want to answer the question in different ways. One way would be to ask the ancient texts directly. Another could be to use the rational-actor model to analyze the behavior of the ancients (in the economy, politics, or any other area of social life) and see whether the results are plausible.
In our conference, we explore the chances and limits of these approaches. The underlying question in each section is the extent of rational activity and actions that can be discovered by various methods of analyzing ancient societies across the globe. In particular, the papers focus on one of the following panel topics:
1. Ancient texts: From theory to practice – How did the ancients think economy, and how do we reconstruct the ancient thoughts?
2. Economic analysis of the economy (e.g., landed property and real estate / financial investments/demand and supply)
3. Economic analysis of politics and of other areas of social life (e.g., institutions and institutional change/taxation / public spending / social networks/law/religion / moral behavior).
Schedule (times are given as CET Summer Time)
Day 1 (Thu, 29 July 2021)
10.00–10.30: Introduction (Sven Günther & Roland Oetjen)
10.30–11.15: Key-Note Lecture: George Tridimas (Belfast): Religion without clergy. The case of Ancient Greece
13.00–13.50: Talk 1: Nicolas Krocker (Munich): On the sense and use of the Historical School of Economics for the analysis of ancient Roman economic history
13.50–14.40: Talk 2: Lothar Willms (Heidelberg): Adam Smith, Plato, and the Stoics – The birth of modern economic rationality and the classical heritage
15.00–15.50: Talk 3: José Remesal Rodríguez (Barcelona): Alte Ideale und die Anpassung an die neue Realität: Columella’s de re rustica, ein Überlebenshandbuch für eine Elite?
15.50–16.40: Talk 4: Daniel Silvermintz (Houston): A city fit for business: examining the economic sphere in the Republic‘s healthy city
17.00–17.50: Talk 5: Constantine Karathanasis (St. Louis): Enter homo oeconomicus: Aristophanes on incentives and civic behavior
17.50–18.40: Talk 6: Kathryn Kelley (Toronto): Trouble brewing in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia
Day 2 (Fr, 30 July 2021)
8.30–9.20: Talk 7: Roland Ferenczi (Budapest/Hamburg): Trade, markets, and money in the Old Tamil Caṅkam literature
9.20–10.10: Talk 8: Patrick Reinard (Trier): Price variations and economic strategies in the Roman imperial period
10.30–11.20: Talk 9: Juan Carlos Moreno García (Paris): The rationale behind land transactions in ancient Egypt: investment, markets and private strategies
11.20–12.10: Talk 10: Bertram Schefold (Frankfurt): Land and credit in the history of economic thought. Traditional China and premodern Europe. Dian and pactum antichriseos
14.00–14.50: Talk 11: Michael Leese (Durham, NH): Hoarding and rationality in Greco-Roman antiquity
14.50–15.40: Talk 12: Alain Bresson (Chicago): The Anonymus Iamblichi and the logic of money supply
16.00–16.50: Talk 13: Michael Kozuh (Auburn): Ancient accounting and rational behavior
16.50–17.40: Talk 14: Jason Hagler (Philadelphia): Are the moderns rational actors? The view from Warring States Qin
Day 3 (Sa, 31 July 2021)
8.30–9.20: Talk 15: Christian Canu Højgaard (Amsterdam): Rational actors and the ancient Israelite jubilee legislation
9.20–10.10: Talk 16: Thibaud Nicolas (Paris): Was the sun god Shamash a deus oeconomicus? Rationality and religion in the management of economic affairs in Old-Babylonian Sippar’s temple «Ebabbar»
10.30–11.20: Talk 17: Hannah Ringheim / Averil Ringheim (Zürich): Rational actors in ancient cult: Egyptian temples as economic hubs in the third century BCE
11.20–12.10: Talk 18: Peter Sarris (Cambridge): ‘The encircling presence of death’ – Governmental responses to bubonic plague in the sixth century AD
12.15–13.00: Final Discussion