3808SV: SV: [ANE-2] Population of Canaan?
- Feb 4, 2007Dear 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
Fra: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:ANEemail@example.com] På vegne af Ariel L. Szczupak
Sendt: 4. februar 2007 21:44
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 landOne of my pet peeves :(
>itself can support, the state of agriculture in mind. Of course
>there will be regional and periodical fluctuations. ...
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
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:Just speculating out loud ... The current population of Israel & the
>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
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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