Some years ago I had a discussion with Ian Morris about his The Measure of Civilization, and I asked him:
Which pre-industrial (pre-1500) society was the richest in terms of energy per capita?
What's your answer?
(my answer tomorrow)
— Peter Turchin (@Peter_Turchin) September 27, 2020
I and other respondents offer numerous speculations and quibbles in the replies.
Remember, it’s per capita and it’s a society. But I don’t know Dr. Turchin’s own answer yet.
It will probably depend upon somewhat arbitrary decisions on how to measure things. For example, one fellow suggested that Middle Eastern societies used a lot of the sun’s energy making dried fruit, which is true, but still … trying to put a number to the sun sounds like it would open a big can of conceptual worms.