When the last of the volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius settled over Pompeii in A.D. 79, it preserved a detailed portrait of life in the grand Roman city, from bristling military outposts to ingenious aqueducts. Now researchers say the eruption nearly 2,000 years ago also captured clues to one of today’s most pressing social problems.
Analyzing dwellings in Pompeii and 62 other archaeological sites dating back 11,200 years, a team of experts has ranked the distribution of wealth in those communities. Bottom line: economic disparities increased over the centuries and technology played a role. The findings add to our knowledge of history’s haves and have-nots, an urgent concern as the gulf between the 1 percent of ultra-rich and the rest of us continues to grow.
“We wanted to be able to look at the ancient world as a whole and draw connections to today,” says Michael E. Smith, an archaeologist at Arizona State University, who took part in the study. The research is being published this month in Ten Thousand Years of Inequality, a book edited by Smith and Timothy Kohler of Washington State University.Read the rest of this article...
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