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The crisis of the 3rd century A.D. : wage increases and inflation in Roman Egypt

This thesis reconsiders the 3rd century A.D. in Egypt using labour contracts to determine if there is any evidence to demonstrate how low-status wage agreements responded to the currency changes between A.D. 235 and 305. The importance of this research is that this is a period that is typically described as a time of crisis and inflation. This research therefore explores how private wage agreements and rates responded to the debasement of the Alexandrian tetradrachm between A.D. 235 and the reforms of Aurelian in 274/5; it then examines private viticulture-labour and general labour agreements to determine how wage agreements responded to the reforms of Aurelian in A.D. 274/5, and the changes to currency that occurred between A.D. 274/5 and A.D. 299. Private labour agreements between A.D. 300 and 305 are then examined to determine if there is any evidence for inflation, and to establish how wages responded to the A.D. Edict of Maximum Prices. Finally the research examines wheat prices between A.D. 235 and 305 to determine how these prices responded to the changes in the currency and the buying power of labourer wages during the study period. The results will demonstrate that between A.D. 235 and A.D. 274/5 private wage agreements did not increase in response to the debasement of the Alexandrian tetradrachm. They will also demonstrate that between A.D. 274/5 and A.D. 299 the reforms of Aurelian saw a doubling in value of the tetradrachm, and that wages remained stable reflecting this doubling until c.A.D. 286. The results will then show that the introduction of the nummus saw the continued use of older debased tetradrachms, and that this necessitated the upward revaluation of the nummus to ensure its use as a replacement to the tetradrachm. Moreover the revaluation reduced the number of nummi paid in wage agreements to mid 3rd century rates both in terms of the coins, and the amount of silver exchanged. Finally the research will demonstrate that wheat prices per artaba reflected the revaluation of the currency, and not inflation; and that prices remained stable until A.D. 305.
Date January 2015
CreatorsRobertson, Stuart
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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