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Slaves, Gold and Fish Sauce: The Roman Economy


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How do you reconstruct an economy without hard data?
Nothing is more likely to provoke furious debate among Roman archaeologists and historians than ideas about the nature of the Roman economy. Did the Roman empire experience economic growth? Did slavery contribute to increased productivity, or did it stifle innovation? Did the empire witness technological advances that had economic consequences? Did the empire run out of gold and silver? Why was there long-distance trade in the Mediterranean, and beyond the boundaries of the empire? Was there a market economy, and was there an important merchant class in the Roman world? To these simple questions there are no easy answers, as we will discover through an examination of the textual and archaeological evidence.

This module is available in 2020/2021.

Module convenor: Dr Conor Trainor.