How Much Is Enough? First Steps to a Social Ecology of the Pergamon Microregion

In this study, we present a transparent and reproducible approach to model agricultural production with respect to environmental characteristics and available labour. Our research focuses on the city of Pergamon and its surroundings, with an emphasis on the transition between the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial Period, where widespread demographic changes took place. We investigated the degree of local self-sufficiency using different concepts of a city’s complementary region. Using simple topographic derivatives, we derive a measure of environmental suitability that we translate into a carrying capacity index. Our results show that workforce was not a limiting factor for local self-sufficiency. However, environmental carrying capacity may have been limiting in a scenario with a large population. An active investment into the environment, e.g., by the construction of terraces, could have helped to increase the degree of self-sufficiency. Future research should investigate the level of resilience of such a coupled socio-ecological system in relation to environmental and socio-cultural dynamics.


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