As we know, the papyri of Egypt offer the historian of the ancient economy valuable evidence for a wide range of issues. One such central issue is transport, and it is problematic – Peter Brunt described it as’ the greatest failure of ancient technology’. The primitivist approach to the economy, advocated most vigorously by Finley, Jones, Duncan-Jones and others, holds that trade and transport was held back by two main factors: firstly, a lack of incentive to trade due to regions having the same needs and surpluses, and secondly, the high cost of transport – especially by land. Using the evidence of Roman agronomists and the costs of transport established by Diocletian’s Edict of Maximal Prices, Jones stated that it was ‘cheaper to ship grain from one end of the Mediterranean to the other than to cart it 75 miles’. The cost of transporting a mill 25 miles was 11% of its value, rising to 39% for 75 miles (Cato, Agr. 22. 3). Pliny’s well-known letter (Ep. 10. 41) on transport in Nicomedia makes the higher cost of land transport over water seem clear. Any attempt to challenge these ideas was met with force: in Brunt’s review, he criticizes Alison Burford’s paper on the transport of bulky goods, saying: ‘she merely showed what governments could do, regardless of cost, for defence, prestige or piety; it was no more possible for private entrepreneurs to emulate them than for IBM to put men on the moon’.