Age and Health

Walter Scheidel

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199571451
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191750540 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Age and Health

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  • Archaeology of the Near East
  • Egyptian Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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Roman Egypt is the only part of the ancient world where documentary evidence for the age composition of the general population has survived. Pertinent information is provided by extant census returns from the first three centuries of Roman rule. Gathered every fourteen years, these documents list the members of individual households with their names, familial status, and ages. Knowledge of the age distribution enables us to track mortality rates and infer average life expectancy, which is a critical measure of overall well-being. This article discusses mortality patterns, causes of death, and disease and physical well-being.

Keywords: Roman Egypt; age distribution; population; morality; death; disease; physical well-being

Article.  5446 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology of the Near East ; Egyptian Archaeology ; Archaeology

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