Ten Thousand Years of Inequality
The Archaeology of Wealth Differences
Ten Thousand Years of Inequality addresses these and other questions by presenting the first set of consistent quantitative measurements of ancient wealth inequality. The authors are archaeologists who have adapted the Gini index, a statistical measure of wealth distribution often used by economists to measure contemporary inequality, and applied it to house-size distributions over time and around the world. Clear descriptions of methods and assumptions serve as a model for other archaeologists and historians who want to document past patterns of wealth disparity.
The chapters cover a variety of ancient cases, including early hunter-gatherers, farmer villages, and agrarian states and empires. The final chapter synthesizes and compares the results. Among the new and notable outcomes, the authors report a systematic difference between higher levels of inequality in ancient Old World societies and lower levels in their New World counterparts.
For the first time, archaeology allows humanity’s deep past to provide an account of the early manifestations of wealth inequality around the world.
Meredith S. Chesson
Timothy J. Dennehy
Robert D. Drennan
Laura J. Ellyson
Ronald K. Faulseit
Gary M. Feinman
Thomas A. Foor
Vishwas D. Gogte
Timothy A. Kohler
Chapurukha M. Kusimba
Linda M. Nicholas
Rahul C. Oka
Christian E. Peterson
Anna Marie Prentiss
Michael E. Smith
Elizabeth C. Stone
“In Ten Thousand Years of Inequality, the authors explore how the Gini coefficient can be applied to the sorts of datasets available to archaeologists, and draw out some of the interpretive possibilities of such an approach.”—Antiquity
“Kohler and Smith make a great effort to keep the book accessible to a general audience. You do not need to understand the details to appreciate the thoughts developed from the statistical analyses. Moreover, these thoughts are worth reading and add greatly to the discourse on how wealth inequality has shaped, and continues to shape, human history.” – Matthew J Barbour, The Albuquerque Archaeological Society Newsletter
“A rigorous and highly original contribution to the heated debates, both inside and outside the academy, on inequality, showing that archaeology can extend analysis across the entire planet and back through thousands of years.”—Ian Morris, author of Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve