CHAPTER SEVEN

ROMAN WORLD I

The western Mediterranean region generally enjoyed the same climate and vegetation resources as those found in the eastern part. Consequently, the diet also centered around the triad of cereals, grapevine, and olive. Italy, Sicily, and certain areas of North Africa and Spain were particularly blessed with rich soils that supported the growth of these crops. Other sections, especially farther north, grew them in less abundance or not at all. The olive, for instance, because of cold weather will not survive much beyond a line running across northern Spain and Italy. During the Roman period North Africa and southern Spain were major suppliers of olive oil to Italy. The grapevine is hardier and can also grow in areas of western and central Europe. The cereals, especially wheat and barley, are found nearly everywhere, though they thrive best in rich soils with Mediterranean climates. So, for example, during the Roman period Sicily, Egypt, and North Africa were the primary suppliers of grain to Italy.1

Defining with precision the geographical and chronological parameters of the "Roman world" and the "Roman period" is difficult. Over time the Roman Empire came to cover a vast and diverse area, not only including lands bordering upon the eastern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea but also those as far north as Britain and east as Mesopotamia. Additionally, different parts of this expanse came under Roman control or influence at different times. Distinguishing the Hellenistic from the Roman period at a particular time in one area may, therefore, be inapplicable to another region. So, for instance, the Antigonid dynasty of Greece and Macedonia fell to Rome in the mid-second century B. C, but Ptolemaic Egypt did not become "Roman" until more than a century later. The same point can be made for Sicily and Spain in the western area as well. In general, therefore, for purposes of discussion I have treated the western Mediterranean as a whole, including areas to the north, as part of the Roman world, even if not under direct Roman control. Innovations in food technology attributed to areas of the eastern Mediterranean, however, are included as part of the Roman world only if they can be dated to the first century B. C. or later.

The Roman world defined

1 Zohary and Hopf, Domestication of Plants, pp. 137 (olive), 143 (grape vine); Peter Garnsey, Food
and Society in Classical Antiquity
(Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 12–19,

-323-

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Ancient Food Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sorori i
  • Technology and Change in History iv
  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • List of Figures xiii
  • List of Plates xv
  • List of Maps xvii
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Part One - Prehistory 1
  • Chapter One - The Lower and Middle Paleolithic Periods 3
  • Chapter Two - Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods 35
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part One 81
  • Part Two - Egypt and the Near East 91
  • Chapter Three - Egypt I 93
  • Chapter Four - Egypt II 142
  • Chapter Five - The Ancient Near East 178
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Two 243
  • Part Three - Mediterranean Civilizations 257
  • Chapter Six - The Greek World: Bronze Age Through the Hellenistic Period 259
  • Chapter Seven - Roman World I 323
  • Chapter Eight - Attack on the United States 395
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Three 420
  • Select Bibliography 435
  • I. Geographical Index 467
  • Ii. General Index 471
  • Plates 479
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