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Walter Scheidel

Walter Scheidel

Dickason Professor in the Humanities
Professor of Classics and History
Catherine R. Kennedy and Daniel L. Grossman Fellow in Human Biology
Chair, Department of Classics

Scheidel's research ranges from ancient social and economic history and premodern historical demography to the comparative and transdisciplinary world history of inequality, state formation, and human welfare. He is particularly interested in connecting the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences. 

The most frequently cited active-duty Roman historian adjusted for age in the Western Hemisphere, Scheidel is the author or (co-)editor of 20 books, has published well over 200 articles, chapters, and reviews, and has lectured in 27 countries. His most recent books are The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past (2018, ed.), The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (2017; 12 translation contracts), On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death (2017, co-edited with John Bodel), State Power in Ancient China and Rome(2015, ed.), Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States (2015, co-edited with Andrew Monson), The Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean (2013, co-edited with Peter Bang), The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy (2012, ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies (2010, co-edited with Alessandro Barchiesi), Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires (2009, ed.), The Dynamics of Ancient Empires (2009, co-edited with Ian Morris), and The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World (2007, co-edited with Ian Morris and Richard Saller).

Scheidel just finished a book on the connections between the fall of the Roman empire and the creation of the modern industrialized world and the co-edited The Oxford World History of Empire (2 vols., with Peter Bang and Christopher Bayly). His next book project is a global history of monogamy from hominin evolution to the present. He is also planning an e-publication on the Roman monarchy in global comparative context and a concise survey of ancient demography. He launched an international research initiative for the comparative study of ancient Mediterranean and Chinese empires, co-founded the Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics, created the interactive web site Orbis: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, which has received over a million visits and attracted global media coverage, and is co-editor of the journal Historia and the monograph series Historia Einzelschriften and Oxford Studies in Early Empires. He was awarded a New Directions Fellowship of the Mellon Foundation and a Guggenheim fellowship, and is a Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Publications

April 2018
This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive look at how the latest advances in the sciences are transforming our understanding of...
Walter Scheidel, John Bodel
January 2017


On Human Bondage—a critical reexamination of Orlando Patterson’s groundbreaking Slavery and Social Death—assesses how his theories have stood...
January 2017
Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the...
April 2015
From Cambridge University Press: 
"Inspired by the New Fiscal History, this book represents the first global survey of taxation in the premodern...
January 2015
Identifies and seeks to explain similarities and differences in the character of the largest ancient empires.
Brings together separate areas of...
Walter Scheidel, Peter Fibiger Bang
February 2013
This Handbook offers a comprehensive survey of ancient state formation in western Eurasia and North Africa. Eighteen experts introduce readers to a...
December 2012
The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy offers readers a comprehensive and innovative introduction to the economy of the Roman Empire. Focusing...
June 2010
The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies is an indispensable guide to the latest scholarship in this area. Over fifty distinguished scholars elucidate...
February 2009
Two thousand years ago, up to one-half of the human species was contained within two political systems, the Roman empire in western Eurasia (centered...
January 2009
The world's first known empires took shape in Mesopotamia between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, beginning around...
December 2007
In this, the first comprehensive one-volume survey of the economies of classical antiquity, twenty-eight chapters summarise the current state of...