Posted on July 25, 2023

Intelligence Trends in Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of Roman Polygenic Scores

David Piffer et al., OpenPsych, July 21, 2023

We analysed 127 Ancient Roman genomes with a view to understanding the possible reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. Taking the polygenic score for educational attainment (EA4) as a proxy for intelligence, we find that intelligence increased from the Neolithic Era (Z= -0.77) to the Iron Age (Z= 0.86), declines after the Republic Period and during the Imperial Period (Z= -0.27) and increases in Late Antiquity (Z= 0.25) and is approximately at the same level today (Z= 0.08). We show that this is congruent with a cyclical model of civilization based around intelligence, with the documented history of Rome, and also with patterns of immigration into Rome.