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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2022

Extending Cliometrics to Ancient History with Complexity


Traditional cliometrics usually focus on economic data from the modern and contemporary periods, and do not have much to do with ancient history, mostly due to a lack of relevant data. Separately, the field of cliometrics and complexity, by looking at data in the light of complex systems analysis, gives access to a broader range of sources. Concentrating on the distinction between cliometrics and historical economics, we explore the epistemic gap between economics and history, which we reduce to two fundamental differences: the relationship to primary sources, and the presence of a nomothetic framework. Using this gap as a guide, we argue that a logical expansion of cliometrics and complexity, which do not have to be about the economy, but can operate on primary historical sources, could address a much broader set of periods, societies, and phenomena, leaning on microeconomic models. Redefining cliometrics in that way gives them access to the extensive corpora of historical material that digital humanities have produced. Working closer to primary sources contributes to bridging the epistemic gap between economics and history, and the systematic and explicit way in which cliometrics and complexity tackle data contributes to making historical research more scientific.
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hal-03754911 , version 1 (20-08-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03754911 , version 1


Laurent Gauthier. Extending Cliometrics to Ancient History with Complexity. 2022. ⟨hal-03754911⟩
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