Computer simulation will help to understand the trading mechanism of ancient Rome

Computer simulation will help to understand the trading mechanism of ancient Rome

Is it possible to study the economy without knowing prices, wages and GDP? Plus there is no economy over 1500? -Because it is about ancient Rome. Dr. Paulina Komar believes that this may be due to the use of modern methods, including computer simulation.

Far-reaching trade is not only the domain of today’s globalized world. There are thousands of years of history, and a large amount of cargo is transported over long distances by water (ships in the Mediterranean Sea). The “package” is usually an oil tank, that is, a ceramic container that transports wine, oil, fish sauce, and many other products.

As part of the research project, Dr. Paulina Komar of the UKSW Archaeological Institute in Warsaw will check the trade of these commodities. Market economy or Oriental bazaar? The essence of Rome’s economy is based on the distribution of ampoules in Italy”, funded by the National Science Center.

“I will analyze the actual distribution of amphibians in Italy and the cost of transporting goods from different parts of the Roman Empire, and compare them with computer simulations of this distribution under different economic conditions. For these simulations, I will use agent-based Modeling, which is a modern research method recently used in archaeology.”-Dr. Komar said in the Polish magazine “Science”. As he explained, agent-based modeling allows you to create models of the behavior of individual elements (called agents) within specific structures (such as social networks, geographic spaces, or specific economic conditions).

The researcher hopes to find out who really played the leading role in Rome’s trade: free and independent profit-maximizing traders, or more precisely, intermediaries who enforce government orders. As he explained, this question has plagued economic history researchers since the 1970s.

“Today, the world of archaeologists and historians is divided into those who think that ancient economics is similar to modern market economy and those who emphasize modern market economy. I hope I can solve this problem,” he added.

According to economic theory, when trade is based on market principles, commodity prices (in ancient times, mainly determined by transportation costs) play a major role, which means that foods with lower transportation costs are mainly imported because no one will buy ordinary wine. Dr. P. Komar explained-if the price is ten times the transportation cost-if the price is predetermined, the distribution does not depend on the transportation cost. Therefore, the project aims to check whether the distribution of ampoules that transport basic food can be linked to their transportation costs.

“This is why modern research methods should be used. Today, with the help of an Empire computer model called ORBIS (http://orbis.stanford.edu/) developed by scientists at Stanford University, we can estimate transportation in the Roman world Cost. In turn, the creation of the +agent model+ will enable me to perform computer simulations to illustrate the distribution of goods under different conditions.”-he said.

“This project is an important step in the study of ancient economics. It combines traditional analysis with innovative analysis and will provide new and solid arguments for discussing the nature of the Roman economy.” Thanks to it, the ancient economy will become less so. It’s mysterious”-Dr. Komar said.

PAP-Polish Science, Szymon Zdzierałowski

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