Items of recent interest (1)

September 25, 2012

Recent news items of interest:



Some comments on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years

May 25, 2012

There’s a lot to like about David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011) which is essentially a history of the relationship between money and morality from the dawn of civilization in Sumeria up to the present day. However, in a work that spans so many centuries, regions, and academic disciplines (anthropology, economics, history), some minor errors are bound to crop up. I offer the following comments on Graeber’s references to ancient history in the hopes that they might be fixed in a future edition:

Territories that had never been under Roman rule – in Ireland, Wales… [Graeber, page 61]

The Romans did conquer Wales.

Nehemiah… received permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar more than two centuries earlier… [Graeber, page 81]

This implies that the Temple had been in ruins for two hundred years but rebuilding began in the sixth century with help from the Persian king Cyrus [see the beginning of the book of Ezra]. Perhaps Graeber meant to refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls?

[Annikeris] A Libyan philosopher of the Epicurean school… [ransomed Plato] [Graeber, page 197].

Epicurus lived after Plato so this Annikeris cannot be an Epicurean philosopher.

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Money and Power in the Roman Republic

May 26, 2011

Scenes from the conference on Money and Power in the Roman Republic, McGill University, Montreal, May 19-21, 2011.

Keynote at Birks Heritage Chapel, Birks Building (May 19th, 2011)

Talking about the late Republican coin supply

Thomson House, main conference site

Nathan Rosenstein discusses the financing of Roman imperialism

Ralph Covino discusses how to pay for a provincial quaestorship

Quote of the Day: Gods, Money and Ships

April 27, 2010

In the fourth century as in the fifth, a city could not run a serious navy without taking a coldly instrumental attitude towards the assets of its gods.

– John K. Davies “Temples, Credit, and the Circulation of Money.” In A. Meadows and K. Shipton, eds., Money and its Uses in the Ancient Greek World (2001) 126.