On Caesar IV and the Ancient Economy

Having spent a great deal of time in my thesis pondering (amongst other things) the mysteries of Roman economics, it is curious to see how a city-builder game like Caesar IV demands many of the same skills – working with cost ratios, determining how much of a particular resource certain kinds of activities consume, distance & profit calculations – see for instance the discussion here and the tables here. Then go and study something like The Baths of Caracalla by Janet DeLaine. It is all strangely similar. I would have done better to have spent a few months playing the game and then looking at my copy of Finley or Hopkins. I’m not saying that the assumptions that underlie the game mechanics are analogous to the actual workings of the Roman economy; I’m saying that the game foregrounds the interconnectedness of production, consumption, taxes and society, which in my opinion is extremely important when working with the archaeology.

Imagine a seminar on the ancient economy where the aim is to mod Caesar IV (or similar) to reflect the latest thinking on the ancient economy, and then playing it out… I am constantly running out of money & resources as I play the game, which brings a whole new appreciation to the problems of monetary supply…

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