ECONOMY

AUBERT, Jean-Jacques

Aubert, J. 2001. The fourth factor. Managing non-agricultural production in the Roman world. In: D.J. Mattingly and J. Salmon (ed) Economies beyond Agriculture in the Classical World. London and New York. 90-111.

In order to understand how business management was envisaged in the Roman world:
1. a working definition of the concept of management must be provided based on modern ideas. We can safely postulate that management as an empirical science predated its modern scholarly treatment, and that, to some extent, the logical criteria it followed in any given place and period could be reconstructed on the basis of their application in actual economic practices.
2. correlate that definition with the few ancient writers who discussed the theoretical aspects of management.
3. determine to what extent bussiness practices documented by written, archictectural and artefactural evidence fitted both the proposed modern definition and the reconstructed ancient theoretical system.

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BERRY, Joanne

Berry, J. 1998. Beyond the consumer city? Review of: H.M. Parkins (ed) Roman Urbanism. Beyond the Consumer City. Londen en New York. In: JRA 11. 511-512.

Short overview of the different articles presented. Berry is of meaning that the book succeeds in suggesting new ways of conceptualising the ancient city, rather than constructing a new 'model'.

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CORNELL, T.J.

Cornell, T.J. 1995. Warfare and urbanization in Roman Italy. In: T.J. Cornell and K. Lomas (ed) Urban Society in Roman Italy. London. 121-150.

This article shows that the growth of urban society in Roman Italy can be understood in the context of military institutions and the operation of economic factors arising from the wars during the Republican period. The effects of warfare on the process of urbanization are studied from two points of view:
1. the ways in which war affected the formation of urban centers, both literally in the form of physical structures such as fortifications and metaphorically in the form of political development.
2. the ways in which war shaped patterns off production and consumption.

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DUNCAN-JONES, Richard

Duncan-Jones, R. 1990. Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy. Cambridge.

Reconsideration of previous articles about the collection and analyzing of statistical data about economy and demography in the ancient world. His work succeeds in putting flesh on the bare bones of Moses Finley's model: The resulting conclusion of the data is a loos-knit and economically underdevelopped empire, where manufactured goods are traded within defined geographical area's and and the agrarian sector is dominated by the estates of the wealthy with an increased concentration of landowning in the late empire.
Review by B.W. Frier

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FINLEY, Moses Immanuel

Finley, M. 1981. The ancient city: from Fustel de Coulanges to Max Weber. In: B.D. Shaw and R.P. Saller (ed) Economy and Society in ancient Greece. London. 3-23.

Finley, M. 1973. The Ancient Economy. London.

Two basic works in which Moses Finley defends Weber's model of the consumer city in the classical period against the Consumer city in the middelages.

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FRIER, Bruce W.

Frier B.W. 1992. Statistics and Roman society. Review of: R. Duncan-Jones. 1990. Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy. Cambridge. In: JRA 5. 286-290.

Review of the work of R. Duncan-Jones especially of his articles about demography.

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HOPKINS, Keith

Hopkins, K. 1980. Taxes and trade in the Roman Empire (200BC - AD400). In: Journal of Roman Studies 70. 101-125.

Hopkins defines the economy of the Roman empire as a tax based system. Romes imposition of taxes increased the volume of trade. The armies on the frontiers and the gouvernement in the city Rome consumed more taxes than were produced locally. This implies that these regions imported goods with the tax incomes for approximatly the same value as the difference between tax consumption and tax income. The tax exporting provinces on the other hand had to earn money to pay their taxes by exporting goods. In these provinces farmers sold raw materials to artisans to pay their taxes. The artisans worked these materials to higher valued products which were partly sold on the local market and partly exported to the tax importing provinces who paid with tax incomes for these goods.
For criticism on this model see C.R. Whittacker.

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JONGMAN, Willem

Jongman, W. 1988. The Economy and Society of Pompeii. Amsterdam.

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MANGO Marlia Mundell

Mango M. M. 2000. The Commercial Map of Constantinople. In: Dumbarton Oaks Papers 54. 189-207.

Very exhaustive article sketching a commercial map of Constantinople along three lines: the architectural setting, the geographical setting and the goods involved. Sources used are historical (esp. the Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae), archaeological and iconographical. The discusses both the Constantinople of Late Antiquity (5th to 7th century) and of the Middle Ages (10th to 12th centuries). Invaluable for any reference to the economy of Late Antiquy and Constantinopolis.

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MATTINGLY, David J.

Mattingly, D.J. and J. Salmon . 2001. The productive past. Economies beyond Agriculture. In: D.J. Mattingly and J. Salmon (ed) Economies beyond Agriculture in the Classical World. London and New York. 3-14.

The ancient economy is generally characterized as one dominated by agriculture (Finley). The question posed here is what the significance of the non-agricultural sector was in the ancient economy, including arguments from both sides of the minimalist-maximalist debate. Next aspects are studied: a global model of the ancient economy and the importance of extraction, construction and textile production. Conclusion is that generally speaking cities were consumers, but that new archaeological research (case studies) demonstrate that some cities are better characterized as producers. The question remains if future finds wont cumulatively require a major revision of the general model.


Mattingly, D.J., D. Stone, L. Stirling and N.B. Lazreg. 2001. Leptiminus (Tunesia). A producer city ? In: D.J. Mattingly and J. Salmon (ed) Economies beyond Agriculture in the Classical World. London and New York. 66-89.

Finley's view on the antique city has dominated the debate for the last decades. Mattingly poses that there are serious problems with the general applicability of the consumer city for the Roman World (67). At one hand there is the recent study of Roman Corinth which added the concept of the service city (Engels 1990). On the other hand there is the archaeological evidence of Leptiminus in Roman Africa. The scale of economic activity and specialisation (olive oil production and export trade) is not compatible with Finley's model of the balanced self-suffieceny of a town and its immediate hinterland. This means that the town was closer to the producer or commercial city then to the comsumer city. Important is that Leptiminus does not appear to be unique, but rather representive for the other coastal towns in the region. The conclusion is that Weber-Finley's approach to the ancint city has to be rethought making the difference between sites that do fit the comsumer city model and the ones that were highly commercialized with a significant element of productive economy. Between these extremes there was a great range of urban forms and a single model thereore cannot encompass the reality of all the towns of the Roman World.


Mattingly, D.J. 1997. Beyond belief? Drawing a line beneath the consumer city. In: H.M. Parkins (ed) Roman Urbanism. Beyond the Consumer City. Londen en New York. 210-218.

Conclusion drawn from the articles in the book of Parkins: it is necessary to end the debate about the consumer city model, because the model has been used as an archetype, excluding the exporation and analysis of the degree of variance from the ideal type. The archaeological material has grown, but the interpretation of this material has proceeded as a rudderless ship. The studies in this book show that ending the debate can only be a liberating and defining moment for the subject. It is time to move in new directions.

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MILLETT, Paul

Millett, P. 2001. Productive to some purpose? The problem of ancient economic growth. In: D.J. Mattingly and J. Salmon (ed) Economies beyond Agriculture in the Classical World. London and New York. 17-48.

Economic growth: why bother? (17-19) According to Zolatas Aristoteles anticipates in the Metaphysics that human wants are not infinite, but may be stabilized at a level making possible the good life without the need for further economic growth(18). The question is wether this conceptions are conform some kind of material reality, reflecting an economy that was effectively stationary, or wether all the economic activity was productive to some greater aggregate purpose or even effect(19).
Economic growth: what is it (19-23) Economic growth may be seen as the process whereby the wealth of a given community increases through time; more specifically, the sustained increase in wealth over time measured in the real per capita production of goods and services(19). Some remarks are made about the interpretation of wealth increase and its application to the ancient world.
Economic growth: what causes it? (23-27) Theories and calculations are based on post-war industrial economies and therefore remote from the circumstances of the Greaco-Roman world. For the Greco-Roman world the case of an under-developed Third-World state will be used as orientation.
Economic growth: what about the ancient world? (27-31) The production of a progressively larger surplus is seen as the result of two factors: political change, and the spread of technical and social inovations. These factors leaded to a population growth, a greater agricultural output, a bigger part of the population engaged in non-agricultural production and services which in their turn caused greater income of taxes and rents and stimulated long-distance trade. The examples given though allmost all point to the first two centuries AD. Can we speak then of an continuus economic growth of rather of a "golden interval"?
Economic growth: who needed it? (31-35) Accelerating technological change is the key component in the growth of modern economies. In antiquity there is almost no marked advance in productivity because there was an almost total divorce between science and practice (cfr. Finley). Ongoing improvements in existing methods of production though may in the longer run count for as much or more in raising productivity as major but isolated innovations.
Economic growth: who noticed? (35-37) The corollary (=the natural consequence or effect; the result) of this "ante-pre-industrial growth" is that the scope for sustained growth in the centuries BC was elusive or non-existant. The small economies were vulnerable to external shocks, so that a pattern of expansion and contraction prevailed generally.

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MORLEY, Neville

Morley, N. 1997. Cities in context: urban systems in Roman Italy. In: H.M. Parkins (ed) Roman Urbanism. Beyond the Consumer City. Londen en New York. 42-58.

According to Morley the consumer city model is not satisfactory. The fundamental flaw in the model is that a town can never be separated from its social and economic context. An ideal model for ancient cities does not exists: either you work with an average city excluding many important cities, or one has to generalise so much that one risks being so vague that the model becomes useless. Therefore cities must be set in context. Instead of trying to characterize the perfect Roman city, we should look at the context of larger urban systems. The urban system is more than the sum of economically and politically independent units. There are two forms of interaction between them: movement of goods and movement of people. The result is an hierarchy of market centers with some local markets offering basic goods and services and others also providing higher order goods to a much wider area (Central place theory). It are these regional systems which order the space in the region and link the area to a national and even international network of cities.

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MOURITSEN, Henrik

Mouritsen, K. 1997. Mobility and social change in Italian towns during the principate. In: H.M. Parkins (ed) Roman Urbanism. Beyond the Consumer City. Londen en New York. 59-82.

The old ideas about the conflict between old nobility and newcomers especially freedmen is based on incomplete epigraphical evidence. With fife case studies of Italian towns Mouritsen concludes that the entry of new men in the ordo does not necessarily imply that they had gained real power or prominence. They simply bridged the gap between the de facto élite which was considerably smaller and the officially élite, represented by the ordo. The new men were constantly recruited from among the ambitious commoners who were willing and able to meat the far from negligible costs involved. Thus creating room next to the stable élite, allowing large sections of the population an (often brief) taste of public honours.

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PARKINS, Helen M.

Parkins, H.M. 1997. The 'consumer city' domesticated? The Roman city in élite economic strategies. In: H.M. Parkins (ed) Roman Urbanism. Beyond the Consumer City. Londen en New York. 83-111.

In modelling the ancient economie we should avoid using the abstract 'consumer city' and instead give the urban centre and its economic activities a more meanigfull shape by seeing it through the eyes of the actors (cfr also Wallace-Hadrills study of Pompeii). The study uses the Roman élite household as the center for understanding the economy. And an élite household was in contrary to the consumer city model, likely to have an urban iterest. Income from that urban property helped to provide for consumption needs that were commensurate with political competition (ready cash); at the same time urban property was more readily divisible into smaller, economically viable units than rural estates, and allowed the élite to meet the demands that inheritance and dowry made on their resources.

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PURCELL, Nicolas

Purcell, N. 1995. The Roman villa and the landscape of production. In: T.J. Cornell and K. Lomas (ed) Urban Society in Roman Italy. London. 151-179.

THE ROMAN VIEW(151-161): exploration of the ancient texts (e.g. Varro's Res Rusticae) The difference is made between the pastio villatica (Catonian cash-crop agriculture) and the luxury villa architecture.
THE PROBLEM(162-166): In the study of the physical remains of the villa, the elaborate life of luxury creeps to the fore, perhaps because the palatial elements are often the best preserved. We shouldn't see a Roman villa as isolated though, but as a productive ensemble.
ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTIONS(167-173): Instead of approaching the villa in function of who lived there, we should look for things which ancient estate centers actually did: defining the public landscape (the villa reflects owned land), the function of the villa for storage and collection of produced goods, the villa as a locus of intensification of the agricultural effort which is basic to the production of a surplus.
Reason for missing the essential productiveness of al Roman villae has been to imagine that the city was totally unproductive (Weber/Finley), and that the villa can somhow be regarded as a little island of urban uselessness marooned in the real country-side. But both productivity and consumption permeate the whole society.

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ROBINSON, Damian

Robinson, D. 2005. Re-thinking the social organisation of trade and industry in first century AD Pompeii. In: A. Mac Mahon and J. Price (eds) Roman Working Lives and Urban Living. Oxford: Oxbow books. 88-105.

This paper adds to the debate on the social organisation of industry in the ancient city by studying the Pompeian trade and industry. The paper takes a look at the archaeology of the town's buildings, their function and their location in order to come to an interpretation of the ownership patterns of its workshops. After evaluating the evidence, Robinson concludes that the Pompeian upper class appears to have invested in all areas of the urban economy. But it appears that shops and workshops were not simply economic units to provide a ready supply of cash, they also had an important social and political function. The evidence also shows that besides the investments of the urban elite, there was a large and successful group of independent commecialists.

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SALLER, Richard

Saller, R. 2001. The non-agricultural economy: superceding Finley and Hopkins? Review of: D.J. Mattingly and J. Salmon (ed) 2001. Economies beyond Agriculture in the Classical World. London and New York. In: JRA 14. 580-584.

Saller focusses attention on some problems of the discussion about the model of the consumer city: especially on the fact that the work of Finley and others is reduced to a misrepresenting caricature, and on the use of vague terms like "significant" to asses the economy. Saller agrees with Millett's that destinction has to be made between aggregate growth and per capita groth of production. It is then that we must recognise that most types of production described in this book did not lead in any direct way to sustained progress and more effiecient production (i.e growth per capita). It is Drinkwater that offers the most plausible position: there was economic growth during the empire (i.e. aggregate growth), but the growth could not be sustained: it levelled off and even declined well before the political disruptions of the 3th century AD.

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SODINI, Jean-Pierre

Sodini, J.P. 1979. L'artisanat urbain à l'époque paléochrétienne. In:Ktèma 4. 71-119.

Detailed overview of the craftsmen present in the ancient city, thier social status and corporations. The paper combines literary, epigraphical and archaeological sources.

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WEBER, Max

Weber, M. 1958. The City. New York.

Weber, M. 1909. The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations. London.

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WHITTAKER, C.R.

Whittacker, C.R. 1995. Do theories of the ancient city matter? In: T.J. Cornell and K. Lomas (ed) Urban Society in Roman Italy. London. 9-26.

Whittacker reviews some recent economic theories of the ancient city:
1. Weber and the consumer city model
2. Engels and the service city model (based on ancient Corinth)
3. Leveau and "La cité organisatrice".
4. The processor city (Hopkins)
The conclusion of Whittacker is that towns benefited economically from the rural surplusses and rural activities of the majority of their citizens. The largest part of a town's income, however, came indirectly through the summa honoraria paid by the landownig classes. The paradox of the rural-urban relationship lies in the fact that the greater the surplusses of the villa economy, the greater the probabilities that the wealthy opted out of the urban framework. Webers model of the consumer city, for all its faults, is far more illuminating than any alternative economic theory. Nevertheless are urban economic theories unsatisfactory, because the study of cities is only an imperfect way of studying the operations of power in society.


Whittacker, C.R. 1990. The consumer city revisited: the vicus and the city. In: JRA 3. 110-118.

Whittacker reviews three attacks on the consumer city model of Finley.
1. The organizer city (Wacher-Leveau)
2. The tax-cycle model (Hopkins)
3. The producer city model
Concluding that from the manufacturing point of view there is little to distinguish a rural from a town-based craftsman. Large scale production is as well attested for the countryside as for the cities. Crucially important is the role which the vicus played. Enormous numbers of small roadside vici and fora were important rural markets. It appears that villa and vicus played a similar complementary role. In manufacture the villa's were exporting their surpluses serving as a market for distribution and exchange and servicing concentrated populations, without the intermediary role of any town. This leads us to the conclusion that growth of the civitates was unrelated to their economic performance, but rather they were an ideological and political phenomenon.

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WILSON, A.

Wilson, A. 2002. Urban production in the Roman World. The View from North Africa. In: Papers of the British School at Rome 70. 231-273.

Interesting paper on the economy in Antiquity. In the first part of the paper the discussion about the economic models of the ancient city are summarized. The second part describes the production activities of several cities (Pompeii and Timgad: textiles and dyeing; Sabratha: salting of fish). A third part advocates surface survey for identifying production centres apart from the known large surface excavations. The last part re-addresses the social and economic role of the cities in antiquity.

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Opgesteld door Toon Putzeys januari 2002
Laatst vernieuwd in januari 2006