Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World

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Andrew Wilson, Alan K. Bowman
Oxford University Press, 2018 - Commerce - 656 pages
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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Introduction Trade Commerce and the State
Institutions and the State
Trade within the Empire
Trade beyond the Frontiers

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About the author (2018)

Andrew Wilson, Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire, University of Oxford, Alan Bowman, Emeritus Camden Professor of Ancient History, University of Oxford

Andrew Wilson is Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire at the University of Oxford and Fellow of All Souls College. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and former Chairman of the Society for Libyan Studies. His research interests include the economy of the Roman Empire, ancient technology, ancient water supply and usage, Roman North Africa, and archaeological field survey. He is the author of numerous articles on these subjects and has directed excavations in Italy, Tunisia, and Libya.

Alan Bowman is Vice-President and Fellow of the British Academy, Emeritus Camden Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford, and former Principal of Brasenose College, as well as a former President of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. In addition to his work on the Roman economy, current research projects include further work on the Vindolanda Writing-Tablets and on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, image-enhancement of damaged documents, and the development of Digital Humanities.

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