Benford's Law and Numerical Stylization of Monetary Valuations in Ancient Literature

11 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 22, 2014

Abstract

Numbers recorded in Greek and Roman sources are subject to literary stylization. Previous studies have documented substantial degrees of distortion in thematically specific samples. This study offers the first-ever comprehensive survey of references to amounts of money in literary sources pertaining to Roman history up to the early third century AD. This analysis compares the attested distribution of first digits to the probability distribution predicted by Benford’s Law in order to identify deviations that may be attributed to number preference and rhetorical stylization.

Keywords: Benford's Law, Number preference, Digit preference

JEL Classification: N10

Suggested Citation

Scheidel, Walter, Benford's Law and Numerical Stylization of Monetary Valuations in Ancient Literature (December 22, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2541608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2541608

Walter Scheidel (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2145
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www,stanford.edu/~scheidel

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