Warfare and economics conference

“War,” Thucydides wrote, “is not about weapons, but money.” The ancients saw the link between economics and warfare, and throughout antiquity their understanding of these two areas of human activity developed hand in hand. Wars were fought over resources and trade networks; states experimented with ever more sophisticated forms of wealth extraction to finance their campaigns. The development of state finances allowed war to grow ever more sustained and professional, evolving from the border raids of untrained Greek militias to the world-conquering campaigns of Imperial Rome.

On 27–29 April, the departments of History and Greek & Latin at University College London are organizing a collaborative conference to bring together recent scholarship on the interplay between economics and ancient warfare. It will offer a platform for the discussion of themes like the increase of state control over money and resources, changes in supply and demand of military manpower, equipment, and raw materials, the effect of war on trade, and the relative economic efficiency of armies and of coalitions. The aim is to bring together the insights of two disparate fields – to study themes of economics and warfare across the ages and cultures of the ancient world, from Archaic Greece to Achaemenid Persia to Roman Britannia, defining areas of continuity and change.

This is a conference for economic historians who recognise warfare as a test case and pool of evidence, and for military historians who are conscious of the importance of economic factors in shaping ancient realities of war. It is also a conference for all those who wish to get a better understanding of the underlying structures of ancient warfare, and the motives that drove the ancients to fight.

The all-star cast of speakers include Alan Bowman, John Davies, Paul Erdkamp, Edward Harris, Lisa Kallet, Robin Osborne, Matthew Trundle, Christopher Tuplin and Hans van Wees.

All are welcome to attend. The room of the conference (at UCL’s main campus in London) is to be announced soon. Tickets are now available.

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