So I wanted to ask the question:
How did the price of paper / papyrus develop over time?
But then I realized that it might be impossible to answer it with a simple time-price chart, even if one had all information.
So the question is: How do historians evaluate if something is "expensive"? How are prices of goods compared over the regions / times? Do already build "comparison tables" exist?
What I thought of
First try: Comparision with other goods
There are certainly goods that still exist in comparable quality (I could think of gold, sheep, cows, stone or ground), the ratio might be different. So simply calculating
- n = number of grams of gold one had to pay for 100 papyrus scrolls
- w = price of gold in Euro / gram
- price of papyrus in todays values = n*w
is too simple. But eventually one could give multiple prices like that to give a meaningful impressing?
Second try: Work force
As soon as we have coins, we can probably compare what people have for a living (per month). One could sort those incomes and trim the top/bottom 25% to get an average income. Then one could calculate
- s = income of the region we want something to be compared with the method described above in [old currency / month]
- x = value of the good from region / time of s in [old currency]
- t = todays average income (calculated the same way) in [new currency/month]
- price of papyrus in todays values = (x/s)*t