The 100 Person per Acre Rule – How Accurate Is It?

Manhattan, according to Wikipedia, contains 59.5 square kilometers of land area, or 14,700 acres. By the 100 person per acre rule, this should hold about 1.47 million people. The population of Manhattan is 1.626 million.

The City of Detroit, according to Wikipedia, contains 359.36 square kilometers of land area, or 88,800 acres. By the 100 person per acre rule, this should hold about 8.88 million people. The population of Detroit is a suburban-like 681,000 -less than a tenth of what it could be by the rule.

The City of Los Angeles, according to Wikipedia, contains 1214 square kilometers of land area, or about 300,000 acres. By the 100 person per acre rule, this should hold about 30 million people. The population of Los Angeles is 3.884 million.

The most densely inhabited incorporated place in the U.S. has only just under 92 persons per acre. A typical U.S. school building has a daytime population density of very close to 500 students per acre. The most densely populated modern capital city in the world, the City of Manila, where over 1.6 million people are packed into some 38.55 square kilometers of land area, or 9526 acres, has a population density of roughly 173 persons per acre. The Old City of Jerusalem, with 216.41 acres, has nearly thirty-seven thousand people crammed into its walls, giving a population density of nearly 171 persons per acre, or around 203 persons per acre when only the Temple Mount is excluded. The Old City, by the way, used to follow the 100 person-per-acre rule in the 19th century, then having a population of 21 or 22 thousand people. The Old City is clearly more population-dense today than it was a century ago:

Jerusalem, 1910
Modern Old Jerusalem
Chesa Street, Tondo, Manila, Philippines. This section of the city has some 300 inhabitants per acre.

According to Wikipedia, the 20th century population of the Old City of Constantinople (Fatih) peaked at 627012 persons in 1975. As its area (eastern citadel included) is about 3810 acres, that city’s peak population density was about 165 persons per acre. It is important to realize, however, that Fatih is surrounded by water on three sides, leaving little room for extensive light-density urban development. The situation is not comparable with that of such ancient cities as Rome and Cordoba, for which premodern populations and population densities are often wildly exaggerated.

Thus, we should consider the premodern urban maximum population density to be somewhere a little above 200 persons per acre. Premodern urban population densities were likely closer to this maximum when cities’ suburbs were already overcrowded and when cities were surrounded by geographic barriers to expansion, such as bodies of water, mountains, and valleys.

On the subject of the previous post, the maximum population of Rome was likely around 400,000 or half a million (the number of slaves in the city is the largest unknown variable relating to this figure) either sometime in the reign of Nero (before the Great Fire of Rome) or during the middle of the period of the Five Good Emperors. The first city in the world to reach one million inhabitants was not Rome or Constantinople, but probably Tang Dynasty Chang’an, or, less likely, Sui Dynasty Daxing (same location as Chang’an, but slightly earlier). Hypothetically, the city could hold nearly three million by the 100 person-per-acre rule.


Population of Rome Never Reached a Million Before 20th Century

I’ve often heard claims bandied about (even by Ian Morris, typically an advocate for rather low population estimates for pre-modern Near Eastern and Chinese cities) that in the 1st century BC, the population of the city of Rome reached one million. I’ve always been skeptical of them. Rome simply wasn’t that large. For it to have one million people, it would either have to have been three times larger than currently imagined, or three times more population-dense than plausible, or some combination of the two. The walled city of Constantinople (the population of which possibly never reached half a million before the Ottoman era) always seemed to me a bit larger than Old Rome. The modern city of Rome, which today contains fewer than three million people, seemed to me far more than three times larger in area than the Old City of Rome.

Based on this picture, the Aurelian walls of Rome in the late 3rd century AD looked like this. They were over 18 kilometers in length and contained an area of some 3139.33 acres. Based on the old (and highly useful) rule of 100 persons per acre in premodern urban areas, this would amount to some 313,933 persons residing within the city. This is very close to the 320,000 claimed by Augustus to have received sixty denarii from him in 5 BC. From this we can conclude that in Rome briefly preceding the death of Herod the Great, at least 100% of the population was eligible for at least some welfare benefits. We can also conclude that the great symbol of urban decline in America today, the almost entirely Black-inhabited city of Detroit, Michigan, continues to have a population greater than that of Old Rome at its classical height. Further evidence exists for early Imperial, unlike late Republican, censuses counting both women and children as Roman citizens.

The first time Rome managed to achieve a population of one million people was apparently the 1920s.

Summary of Henri Pirenne’s Mohammed and Charlemagne, Chapter I

A few days ago, I heard about Henri Pirenne’s book Mohammed and Charlemagne, which I will summarize below, as I’m reading the book so you don’t have to. Over the past week, I have become quite interested in how the barbarian invasions and the rise of the Umayyad Caliphate affected Western Europe. Bryan Ward-Perkins [excellent quality pirate version of his medium-quality book The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization here] considers the barbarian invasions to have severely degraded economic and cultural activity in the Roman cultural sphere in Western Europe (though less than in Britain) and does not mention the conquests of the Caliphs as having any impact on Western Europe at all. Over the next few days, I will attempt to coherently sum up the evidence relating to the transformation of the Roman Empire from a unified Mediterranean-wide naval power to the small monarchy we find in the early 9th century AD and the economic processes that relate to this political decline.

Chapter I of Mohammed and Charlemagne:

*By the mid-5th century AD, the Western Roman Empire had ceased to exist as a serious political entity and its entirety had been split up among the barbarian kingdoms and their puppets.

*By 500 AD, the barbarians in the present-day Roman cultural sphere in Western Europe ruled in the name of the Roman Empire. They did not seek to conquer its entirety or replace it with their own culture or empire. No barbarian claimed to be Emperor from the Fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne.

*The barbarians were not contemptuous of Rome, nor did they think themselves superior to the Romans. The Roman cultural sphere only retrenched along the Rhine and some of northern Gaul. While there was some barbarian looting, the barbarians only wanted to enjoy the benefits of Roman rule.

*The barbarians had little to no long-term influence on the culture and language of the Roman cultural sphere.

*Barbarian law in the Roman cultural sphere eventually became assimilated into Roman law. Arianism disappeared by 600 AD.

*The barbarians were at least as corrupt and amoral as the Romans.

* Though there was clear intellectual and artistic decline in the barbarian-controlled Roman cultural sphere, the Roman cultural sphere survived due to lack of superior alternatives and the power of the Latin church.

* The Ostrogoth administration attempted to preserve Roman culture. The Vandals lived as an extractive elite that expropriated the population and persecuted Catholics, but even the Vandal kingdom quickly abandoned Germanic culture and adopted the manners and customs of the old Roman administration. The Burgrundians were almost completely Romanized soon after their invasions.

[comment by me: The nature of the economic situation in Tunisia and southern Gaul between the 2nd and 9th centuries AD must be settled through archaeology.]

* The barbarians were not at all culturally innovative.

* The Frank kingdom preserved less of Roman administration than the other barbarian kingdoms, but introduced no new Germanic cultural features. The Frank population merged easily with the Gallo-Roman, and the Gallo-Romans quickly became a part of the Frankish ruling class.

* The tax system under the barbarians drew in massive amounts of revenue.

* Under the barbarians, bishops played no part in the government and the king was the state, with the church being subservient to him. The church played no formal part in confirming the king. This is a contrast with the later strength of the church’s influence on the state in Western Europe.

* Under the barbarians, the church remained socially prestigious and a massive recipient of government subsidies.

* All the barbarian kingdoms, with the sole exception of that of the Vandals, recognized the legitimacy of the current eastern Emperor. The Vandals struck coins in the name of the Emperor Honorius, thus recognizing the legitimacy of past Roman emperors.

* Justinian’s conquest of North Africa was quick and complete; the conquest of Italy was hindered by Ostrogoth resistance after an initial quick surrender of the Ostrogothic kingdom, but by 554, after much spilled blood, the conquest of Italy was complete. The Ostrogoths and Franks never allied.

* The Visigoth kingdom continued to recognize Justinian as legitimate even after his armies took the entirety of the kingdom’s coastline.

* Justinian’s Spanish and North Italian conquests were very short-lived.

* The Lombards were the first barbarians to enter Italy to rule like barbarians.

* In the second half of the 6th century AD, the Pope was still subservient to the Emperor.

* Were not for the Empire’s break with the Frankish kingdom in the sixth century AD, the Lombard kingdom would have been destroyed.

* By 600 AD, the Lombards had begun a process of Romanization, the cultural influence of the East was continuing its expansion, and the Empire was still the most powerful political entity in the Mediterranean.

Why are Indian-Americans Democrats?

Simple. Because the Republican Party stresses immigrant assimilation, while Indian-Americans aren’t planning on assimilating. Koreans and Vietnamese (who are less Democrat-leaning) at least have some intent to assimilate into American identity and lose the nonessential parts of their Old World culture. It is always simultaneously funny and encouraging to experience the very common occurrence of meeting an East Asian with a Western first name and an East Asian last name. Indians in America have no such intent to assimilate. Instead of converting to Christianity or accepting their atheism, like many (most?) East Asians in America, Indian-Americans set up Hindu and Sikh temples and Muslim mosques. Indian-White marriages in the United States remain rare, and their products identify as Indian. Though Indian-Americans have no particular love for American Blacks (they certainly do not attempt to assimilate into the American Underclass Black culture), they are willing to vote for a Black Presidential candidate because that candidate’s history resembles that of most Indian Americans far more than that of most American Blacks. An icon of WASP [even if Mormonism is not a branch of Protestantism, it is still a 100% American religion] identity such as Mitt Romney or assimilators like Governors Jindal and Haley simply will not appeal to the great majority of Indian-Americans. Many Indian-Americans still follow Indian politics and have no intention of voting for any candidate advocating the impractical doctrine of quick assimilation for all immigrants.

I like most of the Indian-Americans I’ve met as people. They, as the products of a selective immigration policy, are certainly superior in every manner to those I’d regularly meet were America to have Open Borders. But I accept that they are practically unassimilable hyphenated Americans. I’d be fine with that, were it not for the excessive lean towards the Democratic Party this unassimilability gives them. Were Indian-Americans lacking political bias, I would full-heatedly oppose placing any sizable restrictions on present Indian-American entry into the United States. Though I’d shiver at an Open Borders policy in the U.S., I’d cry at the massive waste of talent a post-1924, pre-1965 U.S. immigration policy would produce. Tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of fundamentally competent individuals would be forced to scrape out their lives in a corrupt third-world shithole.

Inspirations [though not sources] for this Post: