Death and the City: Ancient Rome and Beyond

11 Pages Posted: 24 May 2015

Date Written: May 22, 2015


Epigraphic records from antiquity light on the seasonal distribution of mortality in the city of Rome, allowing us to draw inferences about the local disease environment. Endemic malaria appears to have made an important contribution to the mortality regime. Literary sources and osteological evidence likewise support the impression that the metropolitan disease environment was exceptionally severe. Investment in infrastructure and welfare provisions was unable to change this.

Keywords: Seasonal mortality, malaria, urban graveyard effect

Suggested Citation

Scheidel, Walter, Death and the City: Ancient Rome and Beyond (May 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Walter Scheidel (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2145
United States

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