Saturday, January 14, 2023

An Examination of Prices and Wages in Babylonia – ca. 2000-1600 B.C.E.

This dissertation identifies long term fluctuations in prices and wages in northern and southern Babylonia during the Isin-Larsa/Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600 B.C.E.). The introduction orients the reader to the study of prices and wages. It reviews previous studies, defines objectives, scope, and methodology, presents an overview of the sources for prices and wages, and outlines limitations. The scope of this study includes the following categories: 1) prices paid for real estate (houses, fields, orchards), slaves, and livestock 2) prices for house rentals 3) prices paid for commodities (barley, oil, wool, dates, and sesame) 4) wages paid for hired labor. Part I presents and analyzes the data for each category, utilizing charts and graphs to reveal regional price differences and price (or wage) fluctuation at a category level. Part II looks at the data holistically, with the goals of identifying long-term fluctuations of prices and wages for northern and southern Babylonia and correlating their movements with political history. It shows that economic prosperity is, to a large degree, conditional on periods of political stability, which goes hand in hand with powerful rulers. 

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