Oxford Roman Economy Project University of Oxford

Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World


Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World
Edited by A. I. Wilson and A. K. Bowman
Oxford Studies in the Roman Economy, Oxford University Press. 2017.

This volume presents eighteen papers by leading Roman historians and archaeologists discussing trade in the Roman Empire during the period c.100 BC to AD 350. It focuses especially on the role of the Roman state in shaping the institutional framework for trade within and outside the empire, in taxing that trade, and in intervening in the markets to ensure the supply of particular commodities, especially for the city of Rome and for the army.

As part of a novel interdisciplinary approach to the subject, the chapters address its myriad facets on the basis of broadly different sources of evidence: historical, papyrological, and archaeological. They are grouped into three sections, covering institutional factors (taxation, legal structures, market regulation, financial institutions); evidence for long-distance trade within the empire in wood, stone, glass, and pottery; and trade beyond the frontiers, with the east (as far as China), India, Arabia, the Red Sea, and the Sahara. Rome's external trade with realms to the east emerges as being of particular significance, but it is in the eastern part of the empire itself where the state appears to have adapted the mechanisms of taxation in collaboration with the elite holders of wealth to support its need for revenue. On the other hand, the price of that collaboration, which was in effect a fiscal partnership, ultimately led in the longer term in slightly different forms in the east and the west to a fundamental change in the political character of the empire.

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1: Introduction: Trade, Commerce, and the State, Andrew Wilson and Alan Bowman

I. Institutions and the State

2: The State and the Economy: Fiscality and Taxation, Alan Bowman

3: Law, Commerce, and Finance in the Roman Empire, Boudewijn Sirks

4: Market Regulation and Transaction Costs in the Roman Empire, Elio Lo Cascio

5: Financial Institutions and Structures in the Last Century of the Roman Republic, Philip Kay

6: Nile River Transport under the Romans, Colin Adams


II. Trade within the Empire

7: The Indispensable Commodity: Notes on the Economy of Wood in the Roman Mediterranean, W. V. Harris

8: Stone-Use and the Economy: Demand, Distribution, and the State, Ben Russell

9: An Overview of the Circulation of Glass in Antiquity, Danièle Foy

10: Procurators' Business? Gallo-Roman Sigillata in Britain in the Second and Third Centuries AD, Michael Fulford

11: The Distribution of African Pottery under the Roman Empire: Evidence vs Interpretation, Michel Bonifay

12: The Supply Networks of the Roman East and West: Interaction, Fragmentation, and the Origins of the Byzantine Economy, Paul Reynolds

13: Prices and Costs in the Textile Industry in the Light of the Lead Tags from Siscia, Ivan Radman-Livaja

14: Exports and Imports in Mauretania Tingitana: The Evidence from Thamusida, Emanuele Papi


III. Trade beyond the Frontiers

15: The Silk Road between Syria and China, David F. Graf

16: Egypt and Eastern Commerce during the Second Century AD and Later, Roberta Tomber

17: Money and Flows of Coinage in the Red Sea Trade, Dario Nappo

18: The Port of Qana', a Junction between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea: The Underwater Evidence, Barbara Davidde

19: Trade across Rome's Southern Frontier: The Sahara and the Garamantes, Andrew Wilson

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