Industry and Commerce of the City of Rome, (50 B. C.-200 A. D.)

Industry and Commerce of the City of Rome, (50 B. C.-200 A. D.)

Industry and Commerce of the City of Rome, (50 B. C.-200 A. D.)

Industry and Commerce of the City of Rome, (50 B. C.-200 A. D.)

Excerpt

Much that has been written about the economic organization of the Roman world has of necessity been based on the abundant remains at Pompeii, while the scarcity of materials has prevented a detailed study of the trade of the capital itself. Administrative problems arising from the importation and distribution of state grain have been thoroughly treated; the labor guilds at Rome have been studied; references to artisans or tradesmen in the sources have been gathered; and the trade-marks on articles found in the city have been carefully published. In addition, the topography of the ancient city to a large extent has been determined. As yet, however, no attempt has been made to combine epigraphical, literary, and archaeological material into a picture of the commercial and industrial life of this, the largest city of antiquity.

As capital of a vast empire Rome drew its imports from all the known world. On the other hand, since it was the chief residential centre of this empire, it produced relatively little for export, paying for its imports with imperial salaries, the tribute from the provinces, and returns from foreign and Italian investments. A complete enumeration of the imports, their sources, and their carriers would involve all that is known of Roman commerce and the products of most districts in the Mediterranean area; consequently, it has been necessary to select for discussion in the first chapter only the chief articles of trade and the most important sources of supply.

The city was not entirely dependent on imports, for in a society that employed slaves extensively, some articles of consumption -- either because of convenience or economy -- were always produced in the home. The Romans, furthermore, long continued the old practice of having many of their luxuries or necessities made to order in accordance with individual tastes, and the small shops in which these were manufactured operated at Rome as well as at Pompeii. The suggestion that . . .

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