Walter Scheidel

Walter Scheidel

'Habilitation', University of Graz, Ancient History (1998)
Ph.D., University of Vienna, Ancient History (1993)
M.Phil., University of Vienna, Ancient History (1989)

About

"I am a historian who has worked on ancient social and economic history, demography, and the comparative world history of empires, labor regimes, and marriage. I have been offering courses in Classics and History at Stanford for 15 years, and I am part of the faculty team in charge of the sophomore core sequence of the Human Biology program. I grew up in Europe and came to Stanford via positions in Cambridge and Chicago, and also spent time teaching in Paris, New York and Abu Dhabi. I have written or edited 18 books, including a global history of income and wealth inequality, which has inspired this seminar. When I am not on campus I travel the world: my current score is 80 countries and counting."

Scheidel's research ranges from ancient social and economic history and premodern historical demography to the comparative and transdisciplinary world history of inequality, state formation, and human welfare. He is particularly interested in connecting the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences. Scheidel is the author or (co-)editor of 20 books, has published well over 200 articles, chapters, and reviews, and has lectured in 28 countries. His most recent books are "Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity" (2019), "The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past" (2018, ed.), "The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century" (2017; 12 translation contracts), "On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death" (2017, co-edited with John Bodel), "State Power in Ancient China and Rome" (2015, ed.), and "Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States" (2015, co-edited with Andrew Monson). Other key publications include "Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires" (2009, ed.), "The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World" (2007, co-edited with Ian Morris and Richard Saller), and "Death on the Nile: Disease and the Demography of Roman Egypt" (2001).Scheidel recently completed "The Oxford World History of Empire" (2 vols, co-edited with Peter Bang and the late Christopher Bayly). He is currently working on the Roman monarchy in global comparative context and on monogamy and polygyny, and is planning a book on how modernizing developmental discontinuities have come to enrich, divide and threaten humankind. He launched an international research initiative for the comparative study of ancient Mediterranean and Chinese empires, co-founded the "Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics," created the interactive web site "Orbis: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World," which has attracted over a million visitors and global media coverage, and is an editor of the monograph series "Oxford Studies in Early Empires" and a former editor of the journal "Historia." He was awarded a Mellon New Directions Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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