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Soldiers and Silver

Soldiers and Silver
Mobilizing Resources in the Age of Roman Conquest

A detailed comparative study of resources and military mobilizations in the ancient Mediterranean, this book examines how Rome achieved hegemony over the region and offers a new understanding of the economy of that time.

Series: Ashley and Peter Larkin Endowment In Greek and Roman Culture

December 2020
Not yet published

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This book will be available in November 2020.
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256 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 map, 46 tables |

By the middle of the second century BCE, after nearly one hundred years of warfare, Rome had exerted its control over the entire Mediterranean world, forcing the other great powers of the region—Carthage, Macedonia, Egypt, and the Seleucid empire—to submit militarily and financially. But how, despite its relative poverty and its frequent numerical disadvantage in decisive battles, did Rome prevail?

Michael J. Taylor explains this surprising outcome by examining the role that manpower and finances played, providing a comparative study that quantifies the military mobilizations and tax revenues for all five powers. Though Rome was the poorest state, it enjoyed the largest military mobilization, drawing from a pool of citizens, colonists, and allies, while its wealthiest adversaries failed to translate revenues into large or successful armies. Taylor concludes that state-level extraction strategies were decisive in the warfare of the period, as states with high conscription and low taxation raised larger, more successful armies than those that primarily sought to maximize taxation. Comprehensive and detailed, Soldiers and Silver offers a new and sophisticated perspective on the political dynamics and economies of these ancient Mediterranean empires.


Michael J. Taylor is an assistant professor in the history department at the University at Albany and holds a PhD in Greek and Roman history from the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served as an officer in the California National Guard, with deployments to Iraq and Kosovo.


“Taylor’s study critically compares the manpower and revenues of Republican Rome with those of Carthage and the Antigonid, Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms. In a challenge to 'military tributary' grand theory, he argues that it was not its manpower or revenues in themselves that made Rome so powerful but its political and social structures.”
Dominic Rathbone, author of Economic Rationalism and Rural Society in Third-Century A.D. Egypt: The Heroninos Archive and the Appianus Estate

Soldiers and Silver develops a novel approach, as Taylor argues that the rise of Rome cannot be fully understood unless its opponents' manpower and resources are also taken into account.”
Toni Ñaco del Hoyo, coeditor of War, Warlords, and Interstate Relations in the Ancient Mediterranean