What Was the Life Expectancy in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, life expectancy varied greatly depending on the location and time period. While it’s difficult to determine exact numbers, historians and anthropologists have pieced together some estimates based on available data. Let’s take a closer look at what life expectancy was like in different parts of the world throughout history.

Life Expectancy in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians had a relatively high life expectancy compared to other regions during their time period. It’s estimated that the average lifespan was around 30 years old for men and 28 years old for women. However, infant mortality rates were high, with around one-third of babies dying before their first birthday.

Life Expectancy in Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, life expectancy was much lower than in Egypt. It’s believed that the average lifespan was around 20 to 30 years old. This was due to a variety of factors such as poor sanitation, disease, and frequent wars.

Life Expectancy in Ancient China

During ancient times in China, life expectancy was also relatively low. Records show that the average lifespan was around 25 to 35 years old for both men and women. This was largely due to high infant mortality rates and poor living conditions.

Factors That Influenced Life Expectancy

There were several factors that influenced life expectancy during ancient times. One of the biggest contributors was disease. Without modern medicine and vaccinations, illnesses such as smallpox, tuberculosis, and cholera were rampant and often deadly.

Poor living conditions also played a significant role in determining how long people lived. In many areas, people lived in crowded cities without access to clean water or proper sanitation facilities. This led to the spread of diseases and made it difficult for people to maintain good health.

Another factor that impacted life expectancy was war. During times of conflict, soldiers would often die on the battlefield, and civilians would suffer from starvation and other hardships.


While life expectancy in ancient times was generally lower than it is today, there were significant variations depending on location and time period. Despite the challenges faced by people in ancient times, many were able to survive and thrive, leaving behind a fascinating glimpse into the past.