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3808SV: SV: [ANE-2] Population of Canaan?

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  • Niels Peter Lemche
    Feb 4, 2007
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      Dear George,

      Maybe as important will be the fluctuations of the climate, that in an area like Palestine, droughts are rather common (remember from my reading some two or three years in a decade). Then we have deceases, plagues and the like (like the one that decimated Asia Minor after Suppiluliumas' campaign in Syria). Rate of child deaths upon all of that, and you end up with a population that may be more stable than your figures express.

      Isn't 9.000.000 a bit high from Palestine today? Rather some 6-7.000.000. but that is also an awful lot in such a small country (about the size of Danish Jutland where you only find 1.000.000 to 1.500.000 although the climate and soil is much more favourable).

      Niels Peter Lemche

      -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
      Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af Ariel L. Szczupak
      Sendt: 4. februar 2007 21:44
      Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Emne: Re: SV: [ANE-2] Population of Canaan?

      At 12:16 AM 2/4/2007, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
      >... It has to do with the maximum amount of people that the land
      >itself can support, the state of agriculture in mind. Of course
      >there will be regional and periodical fluctuations. ...

      One of my pet peeves :(

      A few years ago (2000?) I found some 2nd mbc population estimates in
      a paper to be strange and I looked more deeply into the subject,
      tracing publications and references and running some population
      models. Unfortunately I archived my photocopies and notes in some box
      - but didn't index the location. So generalities from memory ...

      Many of the more recent papers (80's & 90's) used "magic" numbers,
      coefficients in calculations, taken from much older publications
      which made assumptions that were more romantic than realistic. Some
      of the recent publications tried to correct certain of these
      assumptions, but one at a time so the overall calculations were still
      off. Some examples:

      Minimal per day caloric intake was estimated too high, as if the ANE
      people lived on modern western middle class standards. Flock herding
      and sedentary agriculture are not high energy expenditure jobs, and
      there are no Pyramids in the Levant.

      There are estimates of food yield per surface area. If I recall
      correctly some of the more recent publications changed those figures
      for cultivable lands based on real life examples. But these estimates
      were for agricultural fields. What I didn't see in any publication is
      taking into account that the Levant is not only the home of wheat but
      of other very high energy foods that grow practically everywhere (and
      require very little labor) - olives, almonds, etc.

      Another type of estimate is people per building. My impression was
      that they were low.

      And I didn't like the way the estimates were calculated as static
      numbers per long period.

      First reason - the Levant is at the mercy of climate. I didn't find
      population estimates coupled with climatic evidence.

      But the worst is the total disregard to natural population growth. If
      I recall correctly, given optimal conditions human populations double
      every 12 years. The only real data we have on realistic conditions
      that reflect various conditions of living are from the last century
      or so - during which the overall human population doubled about every
      40 years .

      That means that an estimate of a Canaan population of 100,000 for the
      1st year of the 13th cbc will result, using today's population growth
      rate, in a population of 600,000 people by the end of that century
      and 3,600,000 by the end of the 12th CBC.

      I find these population estimates misleading because they ignore the
      rate of reproduction driving the population growth on one hand, and
      the factors that curb that growth, or cause major drops in the
      population size, on the other. It's the interplay between these
      opposing factors that reflects what is historically interesting, not
      average numbers.

      What is more informative, to a point, are "the maximum the land can
      support" estimates. My impression back then was that the maximum
      numbers, when given, were low.

      As I was going to finish this message I saw coming in ...

      >At 07:22 PM 2/4/2007, Yigal Bloch wrote:
      >Magen Broshi's [...] the maximum possible number of the inhabitants
      >of Palestine (Cisjordan) under the conditions of pre-industrial
      >economy being c. 1 million persons

      Just speculating out loud ... The current population of Israel & the
      Palestinian Authority is (I think, unchecked) around 9 million.
      Remove all the major and medium urban centers and I'm pretty sure
      you're left with over 2 million, maybe over 3 million. My gut feeling
      is that given an average-to-wet climate a population that size can
      exist without an industrial infrastructure. And the agricultural and
      pastoral parts of that population would leave very little material
      evidence, if any, for us to find. But that's just a gut feeling.


      [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

      Ariel L. Szczupak
      AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
      POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91401
      Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203

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