According to different articles, Babylonians and ancient Greeks, Chineses, Romans and Egyptians made census (and perhaps several other civilizations I'm not aware of)

Did census in Ancient History gathered any other information than number of people? And if so, what kind of information? (for example, age of the population?)


3 Answers 3


The principle purpose of the census in Republican Rome was to determine peoples' wealth, not to count heads.

Rome had an elaborate social/political/military structure where rank depended in large part on wealth: XXX (a million in many sources) sesterces was the minimum qualification for the Senate (there were others), and a lesser amount was the qualification for the Equites. (The Equites were so-called because in early Republican Rome they were rich enough to supply their own horses when fighting.)

One's census qualification had a major impact on the strength of one's vote (the voting centuries were by wealth, and the richer people had much smaller centuries -- each with the same vote -- as the poor) and on the political and military offices which were open.

A senator who fell below the minimum would be kicked out of the Senate by the Censor, an officer of state who was elected every five years (nominally) to decide who belonged in which social class.

  • With both censor and census derived from the verb censeo
    – Henry
    Jan 7 at 23:08
  • This whole thing may give a bit of insight into how Emperors (who were largely installed by their very working-class soldiers) could be viewed as men of the people vs. an elected body like the Senate.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 8 at 18:52

The Romans collected the military service reports of some citizen. Notably, Pompey is said to have replied that he served the required years, and all under his own command.


Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, talks about human longevity in one section. He mentions the numbers of persons who were centenarians according to the Roman census.

The bible has a story about God punishing King David for having a census.

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