Modern Economics and the Ancient World: Were the Ancients Rational Actors?

26-01-2021 13:29

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Sven Günther, Institute for the History of Ancient 
Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China
(email: / &
Dr. Roland Oetjen, University of Rostock, Germany

Date: 29-31 July 2021, online via zoom

Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2021

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. As we aim to have a broad perspective, we include
not only Greek and Roman societies but warmly welcome contributions
from other ancient societies and cultures across the globe.

Papers are expected to last ca.25-30 minutes followed by an intensive
discussion of equal time. Proposals should address 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
Landed property and real estate / financial investments / demand and
supply etc.
3.) Economic analysis of politics
Institutions and institutional change / taxation / public spending etc.
4.) Economic analysis of any other area of social life
e.g. religion, law, social networks, moral behavior

Confirmed speakers so far are Alain Bresson (Chicago), Nicolas Krocker
(Munich), Peter Sarris (Cambridge), Bertram Schefold (Frankfurt).

Please send your abstract of ca. 300 words until 15 March 2021 to
Prof. Dr. Sven Günther ( /
and Dr. Roland Oetjen (
Confirmation of participation is on 31 March 2021 latest.

Prof. Dr. phil. Sven Günther
M.A. Vice-director of the Institute for the History of Ancient 
Civilizations (IHAC)
Chief Executive Director of the Journal of Ancient Civilizations (JAC)
IHAC- and JAC-homepage:
Co-Editor of the Marburger Beiträge zur Antiken Handels-, Wirtschafts-
und Sozialgeschichte (MBAH)
Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations (IHAC) Northeast Normal
University 5268 Renmin Street 130024 Changchun Jilin Province People's
Republic of China   phone: +86 18843178024 Email: /