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Abstract

This volume presents fourteen papers by Roman archaeologists and historians discussing approaches to the economic history of Pompeii, and the role of the Pompeian evidence in debates about the Roman economy. Four themes are discussed. The first of these is the position of Pompeii and its agricultural environment, discussing the productivity and specialization of agriculture in the Vesuvian region, and the degree to which we can explain Pompeii's size and wealth on the basis of the city's economic hinterland. A second issue discussed is what Pompeians got out of their economy: how well-off were people in Pompeii? This involves discussing the consumption of everyday consumer goods, analyzing archaeobotanical remains to highlight the quality of Pompeian diets, and discussing what bone remains reveal about the health of the inhabitants of Pompeii. A third theme is economic life in the city: how are we to understand the evidence for crafts and manufacturing? How are we to assess Pompeii's commercial topography? Who were the people who actually invested in constructing shops and workshops? In which economic contexts were Pompeian paintings produced? Finally, the volume discusses money and business: how integrated was Pompeii into the wider world of commerce and exchange, and what can the many coins found at Pompeii tell us about this? What do the wax tablets found near Pompeii tell us about trade in the Bay of Naples in the first century AD? Together, the chapters of this volume highlight how Pompeii became a very rich community, and how it profited from its position in the centre of the Roman world.
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OXFORD STUDIES ON THE ROMAN ECONOMY
General Editors
Alan Bowman Andrew Wilson
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OXFORD STUDIES ON THE ROMAN ECONOMY
This innovative monograph series reects a vigorous revival of interest in
the ancient economy, focusing on the Mediterranean world under Roman rule
(c.100 BC to AD 350). Carefully quantied archaeological and documentary
data will be integrated to help ancient historians, economic historians, and
archaeologists think about economic behaviour collectively rather than from
separate perspectives. The volumes will include a substantial comparative
element and thus be of interest to historians of other periods and places.
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The Economy
of Pompeii
Edited by
MIKO FLOHR
and
ANDREW WILSON
1
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3
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First Edition published in 2017
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Preface
Pompeii is perhaps the most studied archaeological site of the Roman world,
and it features prominently (perhaps, sometimes, too prominently) in hand-
books on Roman art, archaeology, and urbanism. Indeed, there are few
aspects of Roman urban history that do not, at some point, lead scholars
and students to the ruined city on the Bay of Naples: Pompeii is our default
Roman city, and the place one may nd evidence for almost any debate in
Roman history in quantities and of a quality unmatched elsewhere. Yet
while there is no lack of scholarly discourse on the archaeology and history
of Pompeii, there has been relatively little debate specically on Pompeiis
economic history, and the recent upsurge of interest in the study of the
Roman economy has largely bypassed the city. The present volume aims to
contribute to changing this: rather than offering a denitive account of the
Pompeian economy, it aims to connect ongoing developments in Pompeian
studies to ongoing debates about Roman economic history, and reignite
debate on what the thorough study of individual cities can add to our
understanding of the Roman economy.
This volume stems from a conference organized by the Oxford Roman
Economy Project, which took place at All Souls College and the Ioannou
Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies in Oxford on 29 and 30 June 2012.
This brought together specialists in Pompeian studies and specialists in
Roman economic history from all over the world to discuss how recent
developments in Pompeian archaeology and in the debate about the Roman
economy had changed our insight into Pompeiis economic history compared
to the late 1980s, when Wim Jongman wrote his monograph on The Economy
and Society of Pompeii. With one exception, all chapters stem from papers
given at that conference. We are very happy that we were able to add
Domenico Espositos contribution on the economy of wall painting, which
had been presented at an earlier occasion, to this volume. We regret that a
busy schedule kept Philippe Borgard from contributing to the present volume,
as his work on Pompeiis textile workshops has been fundamental to debates
about Pompeiis manufacturing economy.
The editors wish to thank Baron Lorne Thyssen for his continuing support
of the Oxford Roman Economy Project, without which this conference would
have been impossible. A major contribution to the costs of the conference
was provided by the scientic research network Structural Determinants
of Economic Performance in the Roman World, funded by the Research
Foundation Flanders, and we thank Koenraad Verboven for making this
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possible. We are grateful to All Souls College and the Faculty of Classics for
hosting the conference, and to All Souls College and Brasenose College for
providing accommodation for the speakers.
Journal abbreviations in this volume follow the style of LAnnée philologique.
Miko Flohr and
Andrew Wilson
January 2016
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Contents
List of Figures ix
List of Tables xiii
List of Contributors xv
Introduction: Investigating an Urban Economy 1
Miko Flohr and Andrew Wilson
I. CITY AND HINTERLAND
1. The Agricultural Economy of Pompeii: Surplus and
Dependence 23
Girolamo Ferdinando De Simone
2. Quantifying Pompeii: Population, Inequality, and
the Urban Economy 53
Miko Flohr
II. QUALITY OF LIFE
3. Consumer Behaviour in Pompeii: Theory and Evidence 87
Nick M. Ray
4. Sewers, Archaeobotany, and Diet at Pompeii and Herculaneum 111
Erica Rowan
5. Skeletal Remains and the Health of the Population at Pompeii 135
Estelle Lazer
III. ECONOMIC LIFE AND ITS CONTEXTS
6. Measuring the Movement Economy: A Network Analysis
of Pompeii 163
Eric Poehler
7. Urban Production and the Pompeian Economy 209
Nicolas Monteix
8. Wealthy Entrepreneurs and the Urban Economy: Insula
VI 1 in its Wider Economic Contexts 243
Damian Robinson
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9. The Economics of Pompeian Painting 263
Domenico Esposito
IV. MONEY AND TRADE
10. Re-evaluating Pompeiis Coin Finds: Monetary Transactions
and Urban Waste in the Retail Economy of an Ancient City 293
Steven J. R. Ellis
11. Bes, Butting Bulls, and Bars: The Life of Coinage at Pompeii 339
Richard Hobbs
12. Currency and Credit in the Bay of Naples in the First
Century AD 363
Koenraad Verboven
13. Conicts, Contract Enforcement, and Business Communities
in the Archive of the Sulpicii 387
Wim Broekaert
V. DISCUSSION
14. Pompeii Revisited 417
Willem Jongman
Index 429
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List of Figures
1.1 Hypothetical reconstructions of the Somma-Vesuvius complex
before the AD 79 eruption 25
1.2 Reconstruction of the Pompeian countryside 26
1.3 Archaeological map of the environs of Vesuvius 28
1.4 Archaeological map of the northern slopes of Mount Vesuvius
with 100 iugera circles around each site 29
2.1 Plan of houses VII 1, 25 and VII 1, 46 59
2.2 Plan of the Casa del Fauno 66
2.3 Plan of the Casa del Poeta Tragico 67
2.4 Thiessen polygon indicating Pompeiis natural economic hinterland 70
2.5 Rank-size graph of Pompeiis inhabitable units 73
2.6 Lorenz curves of Pompeiis inhabitable units based on surface
and room number 76
2.7 Spread of atria over Pompeiis inhabitable units 76
2.8 Spread of the peristyle over Pompeiis inhabitable units 77
2.9 Spread of one- or two-sided colonnades over Pompeiis inhabitable units 78
2.10 Casa del Poeta Tragico, oecus 15: picture of Theseus abandoning
Ariadne 79
2.11 Spread of panel-pictures over Pompeiis inhabitable units 80
3.1 Variation in ceramic vessel types relating to house size 95
3.2 Occurrence of OV by material in relation to CV 96
3.3 Other vessel occurrence in assemblages by material 97
3.4 Jugs by material 98
3.5 Correspondence analysis biplot of vessel form for occupied houses100
3.6 Discretionary products matrix 102
3.7 Assembled household items by discretionary expenditure 103
4.1 Plan of the Cardo V sewer 113
4.2 Excavation quadrants within the Cardo V sewer 120
4.3 Ubiquity of the mineralized material from the Cardo V sewer 122
5.1 Skeletons in the Terme del Sarno (VII, ii, 17) collection 138
5.2 Bones stored in the Terme del Sarno (VII, ii, 17) were sorted into
piles of left and right bones for each skeletal element 140
5.3 Frequency histogram of maximum femur length of the Pompeian
sample 144
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5.4 Healed fracture of a right femur with associated osteomyelitic
lesions in the form of sinuses on the bone surface 145
5.5 Healed depressed fracture of a skull, which involved the left
parietal bone 145
5.6 An apparent case of DISH observed on adjacent thoracic vertebrae 149
5.7 View through the foramen magnum of a skull displaying
extensive HFI 151
6.1 Pompeian street names 164
6.2 Occurrences of doorways at Pompeii 169
6.3 Occurrences of doorways at Pompeii 172
6.4 Occurrences of doorways at Pompeii, detail 174
6.5 Depth from gates at Pompeii 176
6.6 Doorway occurrences with Depth 2 from gates 179
6.7 Street network of Pompeii 181
6.8 Doorway densities, excavated areas 183
6.9 Doorway densities, excavated and extrapolated areas 184
6.10 Network of excavated and extrapolated doorways and streets
at Pompeii 187
6.11 Intensity of movement through the network; all paths to
the Temple of Apollo 188
6.12 Total intensity of movement through the network; aggregation of all
paths to all locations 189
6.13 Street segments with the greatest movement intensity 194
6.14 Street segments with the least movement intensity 195
7.1 Chronology of the excavations in Pompeii 214
7.2 Distribution of productive spaces in AD 79/known productive spaces
after the exhumation of Pompeii 218
7.3 Variations in counting so-called ofcinae lanifricariae 221
7.4 Pompeii, 1973. Sheep grazing at Porta Vesuvio 225
7.5 House I 8, 14, with the two nd locations of tool sets 227
7.6 Tool sets found in I 8, 14 229
7.7 Visualization of part of the système technique in which a Pompeian
bakery was involved 234
8.1 The frontage of the Casa del Fauno and the economic properties
integrated into the Nocera tuff frontage 246
8.2 Insula VI 1 at the time of the eruption in AD 79 248
8.3 The villa at San Rocco in Francolise c.AD 50 251
8.4 The outdoor triclinium of the inn 256
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8.5 The bar at VI 1, 5, with its counter orientated to attract customers
on the Via Consolare travelling towards the Porta Ercolano 257
8.6 The remains of workshops underlying the Shrine to the Lares Augusti 258
9.1 Kerch sarcophagus: depiction of a painter at work 265
9.2 Pictura ligneis formis inclusa (Herculaneum, apartment V, 18) 267
9.3 Villa dei Papiri. Room I on the rst lower level of the basis villae:
carbonized remains of scaffolding 269
9.4 Villa dei Papiri. Room I on the rst lower level of the basis villae:
unnished decoration 269
9.5 Pompeii, Casa dei Pittori al Lavoro, room 12, east wall, sinopia
of architectural frames 270
9.6 Pompeii, Casa dei Pittori al Lavoro, room 12, north wall:
unnished panel picture 270
9.7 Pompeii, Casa dei Pittori al Lavoro, room 12, north wall:
unnished decoration 271
9.8 Pompeii, Casa dei Pittori al Lavoro, room 12 276
9.9 Pompeii, Casa dei Vettii, atrium. Same motif executed by two
different painters 278
9.10 Pompeii, Casa dei Vettii: two mythological panels realized by
the two principal decorators of the Vettii workshop 279
9.11 Top: Temple of Isis, porticus 1: detail of the frieze with garlands of
acanthus. Bottom: Casa di P. Vedius Siricus, exedra 10: detail of the
frieze with garlands of acanthus 284
10.1 Insulae VIII 7 (left) and I 1 under excavation by the University of
Cincinnati 295
10.2 The location of trenches at VIII 7 and I 1 301
10.3 The total number of coins recovered from each trench 304
10.4 The distribution of AD 79 coin nds across VIII 7 and I 1 310
10.5 The distribution of stratied coin nds from usecontexts 314
10.6 A diagrammatic sketch for how urban waste can be sorted and
deposited outside of a forts walls 317
10.7 The percentage of coins recovered from pre-Augustan, Augustan,
and post-Augustan phases 322
10.8 The number of coins recovered from stratied, phased contexts,
normalized to thirty-year ranges for each period 322
11.1 Origins of coins in the AAPP assemblage 348
11.2 Bronze coin imported from Ebusus, with gure of Bes on both
sides (left); Campanian Ebusus type, with simplied rudimentary
gure of Bes (right) 349
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11.3 Bronze coin imported from Massalia, with head of Apollo on one side
and butting bull with mint name on the reverse (left); local Campanian
imitation of the type, with garbled legend above the bull (right) 350
11.4 Local Campanian types, only found at Pompeii 350
11.5 Roman coins from the AAPP excavations 352
11.6 A stone ball excavated in regio VI, insula 1 355
11.7 Density of coins found during excavations in Regio VI, Insula 1 359
14.1 Population and per capita consumption in the Nettuno survey area 422
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List of Tables
1.1 Calculation of estate sizes 30
1.2 Estimate of the number of inhabitants for most of the Campanian cities 31
1.3 Estimates of citizens and countrymen of Neapolis, Nola, and Pompeii 32
1.4 Average productivity and estate size according to literary sources and
contemporary scholars 36
1.5 Quantication of the maximum production of wine and size
of the vineyards 38
1.6 Calculation of the estate sizes and maximum extent of vineyards 38
1.7 Estimate of the annual production of grain and the people potentially
fed with it 41
1.8 List of all vegetal remains found in the Vesuvian cities 44
2.1 Entrances along the eastern part of the Via dellAbbondanza 61
2.2 Reconstructing the missing insulae of Pompeii 62
2.3 Constructing the population estimate 64
2.4 Percentage of the population per building type 72
3.1 Houses in the data population 92
6.1 Association of property type with movement intensity 193
6.2 Extrapolations of visitors to Pompeii by gate and time 199
7.1 Comparison of a selection of productive spaces between AD 79
Pompeii and rst-century AD Switzerland 226
7.2 Overview of tools found in the atrium and room 9 of house I 8, 14 228
11.1 Summary of coin types represented in the AAPP assemblage 347
11.2 Contextual association of coins from the Massalia and Ebusus-type
coins and Republican-cut fractions 354
12.1 Reconstruction of the amount of coins in circulation at Pompeii 368
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List of Contributors
Wim Broekaert is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Ancient History at Ghent
University. He has published widely on many aspects of Roman trade. His rst
monograph, Navicularii et Negotiantes: A Prosopographical Study of Roman
Merchants and Shippers, was published in 2013, and he has since worked on a
variety of aspects of Roman trade, particularly focusing on networks of traders
and tituli picti.
Girolamo Ferdinando De Simone holds a DPhil from the University of
Oxford, where he wrote a dissertation on The Dark Side of Vesuvius:
Landscape Change and the Roman Economy, discussing agriculture and
landscape in the Vesuvian region. He is Director of the Apolline Project,
and leads the excavations at the Roman villa and baths at Pollena Trocchia
on the north slope of Vesuvius.
Steven J. R. Ellis is a Roman archaeologist whose research interests cover
the social and structural formation of ancient cities. His publications have
explored Roman retail spaces; urban waste management; superstition; Roman
coins; site formation processes; urban and sacred infrastructure; movement;
social structures and their hierarchies, especially of the urban sub-elites;
archaeological eldwork methodologies; and the Roman sh-salting
industry. Steven has directed and published archaeological projects in Italy
and Greece, including the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta
Stabia, a project of the University of Cincinnati, where he is Associate
Professor of Classics, and the American Academy in Rome.
Domenico Esposito is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Classical
Archaeology at the Free University, Berlin. He is a renowned specialist on wall
painting from the Bay of Naples area and has worked for many years at Pompeii.
His rst monograph, Le Ofcine pittoriche di IV stile a Pompei (2009) discussed
the workshops involved in the production of fourth-style wall painting at
Pompeii. His second monograph, La pittura di Ercolano (2013), provides a
complete overview of the wall paintings discovered at Herculaneum.
Miko Flohr is Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at the Institute for
History, Leiden University, and was formerly Assistant Director of the
Oxford Roman Economy Project. His main research focus lies with urban
history in the Roman world, with a particular emphasis on economic life in
Roman Italy and on textile economies. His rst monograph, The World of the
Fullo, was published by OUP in 2013; with Andrew Wilson, he co-edited a
volume on Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World (OUP, 2016).
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With Eric Poehler and Kevin Cole, he co-edited Pompeii. Art, Industry,
Infrastructure (2011). He is currently preparing a monograph on commercial
investment in Roman Italy.
Richard Hobbs is Curator of the Romano-British collections at the British
Museum. His research interests include the early coinage of southern Italy and
the Iron Age in Britain. He has also published extensively on Roman silver
plate, Roman dining, and the deposition of precious metals in the late Roman
Empire. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Reading and a
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Willem Jongman is Reader in Economic History at the University of
Groningen. Areas of research include Roman urbanism and the
measurement of Roman economic performance. Publications include The
Economy and Society of Pompeii (1988) and The Early Roman Empire:
Consumptionin The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman
World (2007).
Estelle Lazer is an Honorary Research Associate in Ancient History at the
University of Sydney, and has taught at the University of Sydney, University
of NSW, and the University of Technology, Sydney. Her research interests
include forensic archaeology, Antarctic archaeology, and cultural heritage
management. She has spent numerous eld seasons working on the human
skeletal remains from Pompeii. Her current research project involves the use
of CT scans and X-ray analysis to interpret the human skeletons preserved
within the casts of the Pompeian victims.
Nicolas Monteix holds a position as Associate Professor in Roman History and
Archaeology at the University of Rouen. He wrote a dissertation on shops and
workshops in Herculaneum (published in 2010) and was then awarded a
postdoctoral fellowship at the École française de Rome (200710). He led the
Pistrina Project, which studied thirty-nine bakeries in Pompeii (200814); his
current research interest lies with the archaeology of technology in the long term.
Eric Poehler is Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts
Amherst. He is a specialist on urban infrastructure and trafc, and co-
directs the Pompeii Quadriporticus Project, an archaeological investigation
of one of the largest monumental structures at Pompeii. He has published
widely on Pompeian trafc (2006) and on the citys water infrastructure
(2012), and co-edited Pompeii: Art, Industry and Infrastructure (2011; with
Miko Flohr and Kevin Cole). He is the Founder and Managing Editor of
Pompeiana.org, an online resource for Pompeian scholarship.
Nick M. Ray is Assistant Director of the Oxford Roman Economy Project,
University of Oxford. His research interests include consumption practices in
the Roman world, particularly relating to durable commodities, as well as the
various methods used to investigate consumer behaviour in different historical
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periods. He is also interested in the concept of moral economies. Nick is
co-editor of Trans-Saharans, vol. I: Burials, Migrations and Identity (in press),
and De Africa Romaque: Merging Cultures across North Africa (2016), and has
contributed to the Encyclopedia of Ancient History on the subject of the
Roman economy.
Damian Robinson is Director of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology
at the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, and former William
Golding Fellow at Brasenose College. He is a classical archaeologist with
research interests both on land and underwater and an authority on the
archaeology of the Bay of Naples, where he did his doctoral research on
the social and economic topography of Pompeii. He co-directed the Anglo-
American Pompeii Project in Insula VI 1 and co-edited Alexandria and the
North-Western Delta (with Andrew Wilson, 2010) and Maritime Archaeology
and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean (with Andrew Wilson, 2011).
Erica Rowan is Leventis Associate Research Fellow at the Department of
Classics and Ancient History in the University of Exeter. She specializes in
archaeobotany and holds a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford,
where she wrote a dissertation on Roman nutrition and food consumption
practices in the area around Mount Vesuvius, based on bioarchaeological
remains, especially from the sewer underneath Cardo V at Herculaneum. She
published an article on olive-pressing waste as a fuel source in the American
Journal of Archaeology in 2015, and is currently preparing a book on the impact
of Greek food culture on Roman diet and consumption practices.
Koenraad Verboven has been Professor of Ancient History at the University
of Ghent since 2007. He is Director of the international research network,
Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World, and
Co-director, with Paul Erdkamp, of the Roman Society Research Centre
(Ghent/Brussels). He is the author of The Economy of Friends: Economic
Aspects of Amicitia and Patronage in the Late Republic (2002), and co-editor
of several books, including Pistoi dia tèn technèn: Bankers, Loans and Archives
in the Ancient World (2008) and Ownership and Exploitation of Land and
Natural Resources in the Roman World (OUP, 2015).
Andrew Wilson is Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire at the
University of Oxford. His research interests include the economy of the
Roman Empire, ancient technology, ancient water supply and usage, Roman
North Africa, and archaeological eld surveys. Recent publications include:
Settlement, Urbanization and Population (ed. with Alan Bowman, 2011),
Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean (ed. with
Damian Robinson, 2011), The Roman Agricultural Economy (ed. with Alan
Bowman, 2013), Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World (ed. with
Miko Flohr, 2016), and articles on Saharan trade (Azania 2012) and Capitolia
(JRS 2013, with Jo Quinn).
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Introduction
Investigating an Urban Economy
Miko Flohr and Andrew Wilson
Moses Finley once famously claimed that, because of the quality of the data,
attempting to write the history of individual ancient towns was a cul-de-sac.
1
Instead, he championed the idea that the ancient city needed to be approached
on a conceptual level, so that the role of the city as a pivotal institutionin the
Greco-Roman world could be understood. Several decades of erce debate about
what precisely this role might have been followed Finleys discussion of the
nature of the ancient city. Essentially, however, the most important conclusion
emerging from this debate has been that, ultimately, Greco-Roman urbanism
was too varied for a conceptual approach to yield historically meaningful results:
it was not so much Finleys theory that ancient cities were Weberian consumer
citiesthat was misguided, but rather the idea that a single ideal type was the best
approach to understanding Roman urbanism, and particularly Roman urban
economies.
2
In other words, trying to write the history of an individual town,
however complicated it is, is not a cul-de-sac, but an essential part of debating the
history of Roman urbanism, and of urban economies in the Roman world.
Indeed, over the past decades, several scholars have examined the economic
histories of specic towns in the Roman world, sometimes with signicant
impact on the debate. In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was the work of
Leveau on Caesarea, Jongmans book on the economy and society of Pompeii,
and the monograph of Engels on Roman Corinth.
3
Around the turn of the
millennium, Mattingly and others investigated the economy of Leptiminus,
and Wilson those of Sabratha and Timgad.
4
More recently, there has been
1
Finley (1977: 325).
2
See esp. Mattingly et al. (2000: 814); Wilson (2002: 2656).
3
Leveau (1984); Jongman (1988); Engels (1990).
4
Mattingly et al. (2000); Wilson (2002).
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further work on Leptiminus,
5
and the study by Jaschke of the social and
economic history of Puteoli.
6
While these studies have all enriched the
debate, it may be observed that most of them were, by choice or necessity,
mono-disciplinary in the sense that they approached their case through one
dataset, or from one specic theoretical or methodological angle. Often
there were also strong echoes of the research agenda set by Finleys provoca-
tive model of the consumer city. There have been no efforts to look at one
specic city from a variety of perspectives and through several different
datasets, even though such an exercise could be of great value, both on a
methodological and a historical level: a multidisciplinary effort can highlight
how the different aspects of economic history work together in one specic
place, and may result in a detailed understanding that cannot easily be
achieved through other means. At the same time, such an effort may foster
historical, theoretical, and methodological debate that may inform approaches
of scholars focusing on urban economies elsewhere in the Roman world.
Pompeii is perhaps the best possible place to do this. There can be little
doubt that the remains of Pompeii and, to a lesser extent, Herculaneum,
present a uniquely rich body of evidence for studying key aspects of Roman
urbanism, including anything related to urban economic history. There is no
other place in the Roman world whose economic history can be approached
from such a variety of angles, including, amongst other things, the everyday
urban processes of production, retail, and consumption, their historical
development over time, the use of money and the sophistication of the local
nancial system, the functioning of a city and its regional environment within
the wider Mediterranean trade system, and the effects of a citys economic
performance on the prosperity of the urban population.
The present volume aims to bring together a variety of approaches to the
economic history of Pompeii. This is, strangely enough, no superuous exer-
cise: despite the quality of the evidence discovered in Pompeii and the region
destroyed by the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it may be argued that the
cityand especially its archaeological remainshas so far contributed only to
a very limited extent to debates about Roman economic history. Even in the
vibrant consumer-city debateof the 1980s and 1990s, the city played a much
more modest role than perhaps could have been expected: Jongmans radically
primitivist reading of the citys economy failed to provoke any serious
response from archaeologists who were familiar with the Pompeian evidence
there was little debate about economic history among Pompeian scholars at
the time, and scholars working on urban economic history in the Roman
world generally worked with evidence from outside Italy.
7
This has not really
5
Mattingly et al. (2011).
6
Jaschke (2010).
7
Jongman (1988). Signicantly, most scholars reviewing the book were generalists; none of
them was an archaeologist, or seems to have had specialist knowledge of Pompeiis material
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changed over the last ten years. Of course, the city is frequently mentioned in
scholarly literature on the Roman economy, but often only briey, in passing,
mostly when some individual piece of evidence from the site is brought
forward in support of some particular argument.
8
For instance, the discovery
of many agricultural tools in the city has recently been used to support the idea
that many urban residents in the Roman world were directly engaged in
agriculture.
9
Similarly, archaeobotanical nds from Pompeii have been used
to argue in favour of a substantial Roman spice trade.
10
However, these brief
references appear decontextualized: generalists using Pompeian evidence do
not tend to show much consideration for the particular historical background
within which the Pompeian evidence was originally produced. Indeed, in
many cases, Pompeii still seems to be used as an exceptionally well-preserved,
but ultimately more-or-less average Roman cityan ideal source for vivid
anecdotes of how things worked in the Roman economy.
Things, of course, were not so simple. Like any city, Pompeii was a very
specic place, shaped by the unique geographic, historical, and ecological
peculiarities of its regional environment, and it is only through a critical
understanding of the way in which these circumstances shaped the Pompeian
evidence that it becomes possible to understand the economic history of the
city, and to assess the relevance of the Pompeian evidence for wider debates
about Roman economic history. As will be emphasized throughout this
volume, this interpretative process is not at all straightforward, and the
Pompeian record is much more complex than it perhaps may seem to be at
rst sight. Indeed, even with regard to Pompeii, there are signicant limits to
our knowledge, and these will be exposed in virtually all of the chapters
following this Introduction. Still, Pompeiis unique material and textual record
makes it possible to discuss its economic history in a unique level of detail,
both regarding the AD 79 situation, and the historical development of the
urban economy in the preceding centuries.
The following pages will further introduce the theme of this volume. They
will provide an overview of what has been written so far about Pompeiis
economy and economic history, and introduce the various contributions to
this volume, before assessing some of the trends emerging, and put them into
the context of recent debates about Roman urban economies. First, however, a
evidence. Cf. Banaji (1989); Purcell (1990); Franklin Jr (1990); Frier (1991); Scheidel (1992). On
the geographical emphasis of the consumer-city debate see Flohr and Wilson (2016: 3540).
8
In the recent Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy, evidence from Pompeii is
mentioned (in passing) only in three chapters: Wilson (2012: 140, 150); Kron (2012: 161, 169);
Erdkamp (2012: 246). In the Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, Pompeii is
briey referred to by Sallares (2007: 31); Schneider (2007: 154, 158, 161, 169); Harris (2007: 532,
539); Kehoe (2007: 565); Morley (2007: 588); Jongman (2007: 616); Leveau (2007: 662); and
Cherry (2007: 731).
9
Erdkamp (2012: 246).
10
Kron (2012: 161).
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few things may need to be said about Pompeii itself, its regional context, and
the nature of its evidence.
INTRODUCING POMPEII
Pompeii was situated close to the sea on a low hill of volcanic origin, over-
looking the Sarno estuary. The city has a long history: its oldest visible remains
go back to as early as the seventh century BC, but recent excavations have led to
the discovery of even older evidence.
11
Relatively little, however, is known
about the town before the third century BC, and Pompeiis history before the
mid-second century BC is the subject of erce academic debate.
12
The town of
AD 79 was decisively shaped by a series of developments, including several
phases of intense building activity. The rst major building boom of Pompeii
is commonly dated in the second half of the second century BC, a period that
has been described as Pompeiisgolden century, and which saw the arrival
or emergence of a wealthy urban elite building large urban palaces in the
Hellenistic fashion.
13
The foundation of a Roman colony, in 80 BC, was another
major event, and though its immediate effect on the urban economy is not
immediately clear, it had major implications for the socio-economic ties
between the city and the Roman elite, and, practically, for the legal framework
within which economic activity took place.
14
A second period that appears to
have brought signicant changes to the urban economic landscape is the
Augustan period, which not only saw developments around the forum, but
also great building activity along the citys through-roads.
15
Finally, the two
decades preceding the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius were characterized by
increased seismic activity, including at least two major earthquakes, which have
left clearly visible traces in the material remains of Pompeii; the effects of these
disasters on the citys economy have been ercely debated in the past, as will be
discussed in the next section (The Pompeian Economy: A Century of Scholarly
Debate), and in several of the contributions to this volume.
16
Pompeii was surrounded on three sides by fertile and heavily cultivated
agricultural land, as is attested by the large number of villas discovered
11
On the early history of Pompeii see the chapters in Ellis (2011), esp. Guzzo (2011);
Robinson (2011); Coarelli and Pesando (2011).
12
See, for instance, the debate about the date of early atrium houses like the Casa del
Chirurgo (V 1, 10), the Casa degli Scienziati (VI 14, 43), and the Casa del Naviglio (VI 10,
11). Cf. Peterse and de Waele (2005); De Haan et al. (2005); Coarelli and Pesando (2011: 51).
13
For the term see Pesando (2006).
14
On the Sullan colony see esp. Zevi (1996).
15
On the Augustan period see also Chapter 10 (this volume).
16
See esp. Chapter 7 (this volume).
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between Pompeii and the southern slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Many of the
villas show evidence of mixed farming, with an emphasis on viticulture.
17
However, more important than this rich agricultural hinterland is the fact that
Pompeii was extremely well connected. With the shore, already in antiquity, a
kilometre or so away from the Porta Marina, Pompeii was not really a coastal
town in the most literal sense of the word, but there was a port associated with
the citythough its precise location is disputed.
18
Overland, Pompeii was
connected by a road along the coast to Naples and Herculaneum, and there
were direct roads leading to Nola and Nuceria.
19
The latter two roads also
connected with the Via Popilia, which ran from Capua through Nola and
Nuceria to Salerno and further to the south until Rhegium.
20
This all meant
that the harbour of Pompeii could develop a regional functionas is indeed
suggested by Strabo, who claimed that the port of Pompeii served Nuceria,
Nola, and Acherrae.
21
Moreover, the presence of a maritime connection also
meant that Pompeii could easily maintain close ties with the entire Bay of
Naples region, which included cities like Cumae, Misenum, Naples, Surrentum,
and, particularly, of course, Puteoli.
22
This is the regional context in which
Pompeiis economy needs to be understood, as is perfectly illustrated by the
Sulpicii archive, which records business practice in Puteoli in the AD 30s,
but was found in the immediate vicinity of Pompeii.
23
It is a context which,
from the second century BC onwards, increasingly began to be dominated by
the Roman elite, who started to build large villas around the Bay of Naples
shoreline, and to spend large parts of the year in the region.
24
Finally, something needs to be said about the nature of the Pompeian
evidence. Pompeii can barely be understood without understanding its com-
plex excavation history, which has a decisive inuence on the degree to which
evidence actually can be used. Besides the problem, discussed at some length
by Monteix in Chapter 7, that the site was buried at a very particular moment
in its history, there are three main issues.
25
First of all, the variation in
preservation strategies employed after excavation means that there are major
differences within the site in the state of the standing remains and the degree
to which they reveal information about the history and use of buildings
certain types of evidence have survived in some parts of the town, but not in
17
Oettel (1996); Moormann (2007).
18
The archaeological evidence discovered between Pompeii and the sea is discussed in Stefani
and Di Maio (2003). On the location of the harbour of Pompeii see also, unconvincingly, Curti
(2008).
19
On the road between Pompeii and Nuceria see DeSpagnolis Conticello (1994).
20
Cf. CIL 1.6950.
21
Strabo, Geogr. 5.4.8.
22
On Puteoli see Tuck (2012); Jaschke (2010).
23
It is unclear how the archive actually ended up at Murecine. See, on the context of its
discovery, Camodeca (1992: 56).
24
DArms (1970).
25
Chapter 7 (this volume).
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others. Secondly, abysmal recording of movable objects and loose nds for
most of Pompeiis excavation history enormously complicates our view on
many everyday social and economic processes, as is clear from the work of
Penelope Allison on Pompeiis domestic assemblages.
26
Thirdly, there is the
problem that only a very limited part of the city has been stratigraphically
excavated below the AD 79 oor and ground levels, while there is debate about
the reliability of evidence like construction materials and techniques for dating
buildings, particularly before the second century BC.
27
Even though the situ-
ation has improved considerably over the last two decades, this means that the
large majority of what is visible at Pompeii is particularly revealing about the
last decades of the towns existence, and tells us much less about what
happened earlier.
28
Nevertheless, Jongman was unduly pessimistic when he
considered Pompeii unsuitable for dynamic analysisand described it as a
necessarily static cross-section at more or less one moment in time: many
things can be said about Pompeiis economic history, but one necessarily has
to extrapolate from a limited, and not necessarily representative, amount of
observations.
29
THE POMPEIAN ECONOMY: A CENTURY
OF SCHOLARLY DEBATE
The nature of the Pompeian economy has been debated since the early
twentieth century. Highly inuentialinitiallywas Tenney Franks discus-
sion of Pompeiis economic life, which rst appeared in 1918 in Classical
Philology, and was later reprinted almost verbatim in his 1927 Economic
History of Rome.
30
Frank sketched a vivid picture of manufacturing and retail
in Pompeii, examining food and textile industries, and agriculture. He argued
that, although the Pompeian economy was dominated by entrepreneurs
operating on a small scale, industries appear in all stages of development
toward capitalistic production, pointing in particular to the presence of
bakeries, fulleries, and a tannery operating on a large scale, and to Pompeiis
garum industry. A more systematic and detailed account of the Pompeian
economy was produced by Helmut Sievers, who, in his dissertation, discusses
26
Esp. Allison (2004).
27
On the excavated area see Coarelli and Pesando (2011: 37). On the use of walls for dating
see Ellis (2008) on Peterse (2007).
28
For a more elaborate discussion of this issue see Chapter 7 (this volume).
29
Jongman (1988: 56). In Jongmans defence, though, it has to be noted that our knowledge
of Pompeiis past, and our awareness of the sites chronological complexity, have increased
dramatically since the mid-1980s, when he wrote his book.
30
Frank (1918; 1927: 24570).
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the evidence for agriculture, manufacturing, and trade.
31
Though the emphasis
of his work is very much on the evidence, and though the book lacks interpret-
ation and a clear conclusion, Sievers mostly followed Franks emphasis on the
scale of some manufacturing establishments, and on the signicance of the
Pompeian textile industry.
32
After the Second World War, the work of Frank
would be the starting point for scholars belonging to the group of Wilhelmina
Jashemski, who studied specic branches of the Pompeian manufacturing
economy in greater detail: Walter Moeller investigated the evidence for textile
production at Pompeii, Robert Curtis focused on the garum industry, while
Betty Jo Mayeske analysed Pompeiis bakeries.
33
Generally, these works tended
to echo the modernist views outlined by Frank, but they were never joined up
into a wider picture of the Pompeian economy.
A second important line of thinking about Pompeiis economy started with
Amedeo Maiuri, who believed that Pompeii underwent signicant socio-
economic changes in the years following the AD 62/3 earthquake, leading to
the emergence of a class of entrepreneurs and the retirement of the traditional
urban elite. While his dramatic picture of the last years of Pompeii is now almost
universally rejected, it should not be forgotten that a key contribution of Maiuri,
who was one of the very few before the 1990s to excavate underneath the AD 79
oor levels, was his emphasis on the notion of chronological change, something
that had been almost completely absent from earlier scholarship.
34
Moreover,
his idea that the archaeological record of Pompeii does to some extent reect a
city in upheaval rather than a normalsituation hasrightlyremained very
central to Pompeian scholarship since, albeit on a methodological level.
35
The late 1980s and early 1990s arguably marked a watershed in the debate
about Pompeiis economy. There was, of course, the pivotal monograph on the
citys economy and society by Jongman, which, even though its central argu-
ment suffered, at points, from primitivist dogmatism, played a major role in
highlighting some of the methodological shortcomings of earlier Pompeian
scholarship, and helped to introduce the approaches and models of economic
historians to the study of Pompeii. Jongmans work received a mixed reception,
and it may be argued that it did not help that he did not really provide a
powerful model for making sense of the visible archaeological remains of
the city: his analysis mostly focused on Pompeiis epigraphic record.
36
More
important in their impact on subsequent approaches to Pompeiis economy
were the works of Wallace-Hadrill and Laurence, in which these archaeological
31
Sievers (1938).
32
See e.g. on bakeries Sievers (1938: 22) and on the textile industry Sievers (1938: 72).
33
Moeller (1962; 1976); Curtis (1973); Mayeske (1972).
34
Maiuri (1942). See, for a rebuttal, esp. Wallace-Hadrill (1994: 12231), and Monteix (2010:
336).
35
See e.g. Allison (2004). Chapter 7 (this volume).
36
Jongman (1988). See also Chapter 2 (this volume), and Wilson (2002: 2346).
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remains play a much more central role. Wallace-Hadrill offered, in his depiction
of Pompeii as a society organized around houses, a powerful vantage point from
which to look at the structure of Pompeiis urban economy: the atrium house
was not only the focal point of Pompeiis society, but also the pivot around
which much of Pompeiis economic life was organized.
37
Laurence, while
interested more in urban space than in Pompeiis economy, outlined, in a
much more rened way than had been done before, the citys economic
topography, and gave a rough sketch of Pompeiis commercial landscape.
38
It makes sense to group these three monographs together, as they marked a
signicant departure from traditionalapproaches to Pompeii, and paved
the way for many subsequent approaches to the citys economic life. At
the same time, these books also have in common the fact that they antedate the
revolution in Pompeian archaeology that started to take place from the late
1990s onwards, when, due to changed policies under the directorship of Pietro
Giovanni Guzzo, a large number of research projects started to explore
Pompeii in a more or less systematic manner underneath the AD 79 oor
levels.
39
While not all projects have published their nal results, and while
few of them were specically interested in questions about the Pompeian
economy, this development has completely changed our view of Pompeiis
history and, as a consequence, has also affected our understanding of Pom-
peiis economic history. Moreover, there have been several projects that have
specically investigated aspects of Pompeiis artisanal economy, and have
dramatically improved our knowledge of Pompeiis shops and workshops.
40
These developments mean that a reassessment of Pompeiis economy and of
the signicance of its evidence for the Roman economy in general, is timely,
and have had a clear impact on the chapters of the present volume.
ABOUT THE PRESENT VOLUME
This volume approaches the Pompeian economy from a variety of perspec-
tives. Whereas traditional emphasis in the study of Pompeiis economy has
lain mostly with everyday economic processes like manufacturing, trade, and
retail in the city itself, the focus here is predominantly on four other themes.
37
Wallace-Hadrill (1994: 13442).
38
Laurence (1994); for an earlier approach see Raper (1977).
39
For results of these developments see e.g. Guzzo and Guidobaldi (2005); Coarelli and
Pesando (2006); Amoroso (2007); Guidobaldi and Guzzo (2008); Verzar-Bass and Oriolo (2010);
Ellis (2011).
40
In particular, the project of the Centre Jean Bérard (see esp. Borgard et al. [2003; 2005]), the
Cleaning the Laundries Project (Flohr [2007; 2008; 2011]), and the work of Nicolas Monteix and
his team on Pompeiis bakeries (Monteix et al. [2012; 2013; 2014]).
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Chapters 1 and 2 discuss the position of Pompeii in its regional context, and
the economic basis of the patterns of consumption visible in Pompeiis
archaeological record. This is followed by three chapters focusing mostly on
the outcome side of the economy, and on the way in which Pompeiis economic
performance shaped the lives of its population. Part III of the volume looks
more at the contexts in which economic life took placefocusing less on the
everyday processes, and more on the built environment within which retail and
manufacturing occurred. In Part IV, Chapters 1013 focus on money, trade, and
the way in which evidence from Pompeii enables us to understand economic
processes in the wider region of the Bay of Naples and beyond. The volume
concludes with Chapter14, by Willem Jongman, on the way in which the
arguments presented in this volume alter the picture of the state of Pompeiis
economy, and affect ongoing debates about the Roman economy.
City and Hinterland
The rst chapter serves to set the scene by giving a broad overview of the
agricultural landscape of the Vesuvian region in the rst century AD. Discuss-
ing the evidence for wine production, cereals, oleiculture, horticulture, and
woodland farming in the territories of Naples, Pompeii, and Nola, Ferdinando
De Simone sketches, for the entire Vesuvian region, a highly integrated and
specialized agricultural economy, in which cities, for certain agricultural
products, were dependent on the territory of neighbouring cities and on the
outside world; other products, however, particularly wine, were exported on a
substantial scale.
Chapter 2, by Miko Flohr, homes in on the city itself and discusses some of
the basic parameters that underlay Pompeiis economy, particularly focusing on
the relationships between population, hinterland, and consumption. Starting
from a critical analysis of Pompeiis excavated housing stock, the chapter argues
that the citys size and the degree to which sub-elite groups had structural access
to elements of the elite lifestyle can only be understood from Pompeiistieswith
the outside world, whether through trade or through capital ows.
Quality of Life
The subsequent chapter, by Nick Ray, explores the possibilities of applying
consumer theory to the Pompeian record. Ray uses a set of statistical tools to
analyse assemblages of everyday domestic artefacts found in a selection of
Pompeian houses, particularly focusing on metal, glass, and pottery vessels.
The analysis highlights not only the fact that a wide range of artefacts was
available to many people at Pompeii, but also that different households of
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comparable socio-economic status followed differing consumption strategies,
suggesting that a modern concept such as consumerismmay be of consider-
able use in understanding Pompeiis consumer economy.
Chapter 4, by Erica Rowan, focuses on food consumption. While the chap-
ters primary focus lies with the food remains found in the sewer underneath
Cardo V at Herculaneum, the resulting picture is also relevant to an under-
standing of Pompeiis food economy. Importantly, Rowan shows how varied
and cosmopolitan the diet in both Pompeii and Herculaneum had become,
and how that appears to have been a development of the last centuries BC
earlier, the diet appears to have been much more locally oriented.
In Chapter 5, Estelle Lazer discusses the health of Pompeiis population based
on the skeletal remains found on site. While this is a massively complicated
dataset due to the way in which the evidence has been recorded and preserved, it
is still possible to extract some basic health indicators. These do seem to allow
for a more optimistic view of the health of the Pompeian population than some
scholars have suggested in the past. In particular, the evidence suggests that a
signicant number of Pompeians was living well into old age.
Contextualizing Economic Life
The subsequent four chapters touch upon the theme of urban economic life.
One key issue in understanding Pompeiis economy, and particularly invest-
ment, is the theme of location: not all locations in the city were commercially
attractive in the same way, or to the same degree, and understanding Pom-
peiis commercial landscape and the strategic choices made by investors at
certain locations requires a detailed knowledge, particularly of the way people
moved through the city. Substantially rening earlier work by Laurence and
Kaiser, Chapter 6 by Eric Poehler discusses a new model of movement through
the city, one that gives a much more detailed insight into the economic
potential of certain placesnot only the expected major thoroughfares of
the Via degli AugustaliVia StabianaVia dellAbbondanza axis, but also
streets such as the Via Consolare, the Vicolo di Modesto, and the Via delle
Terme, which emerge as busier than had been appreciated.
41
Chapter 7, by Nicolas Monteix, gives a thorough reassessment of the evi-
dence for manufacturing and retail in Pompeii, and analyses the ways in which
it can and cannot be used to understand Pompeiis economic history. Monteixs
cautious approach to the evidence leads him to reject approaches based on
quantication; instead, he proposes approaches based on understanding
41
Laurence (1994); Kaiser (2011).
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investment strategies, and on analysing the système technique,asdened by
Bertrand Gille.
42
Chapter 8, by Damian Robinson, examines a specic area of the city,
discussing the commercial development of insula VI 1, in the north of the
city, and particularly the Casa delle Vestali, which is the largest property in the
block. Robinson starts from the data gathered by the Anglo-American Project,
and connects these to literary evidence to sketch a picture of the development
of commercial investment over time, arguing that Pompeiis upper class,
exemplied by the consecutive owners of the Casa delle Vestali, saw economic
investment as a key priorityfrom the second century BC right up to the last
years of the citys existence.
Chapter 9, by Domenico Esposito, highlights a form of production of which
the results are highly visible in Pompeii but which has rarely been discussed in
economic terms: painting. Esposito provides a detailed discussion of the
organization of two identiable paintersworkshops, showing how they oper-
ated on a relatively large scale and worked on several locations in the city at the
same time. Interestingly, the two workshops appear to have served different
segments of the market, with one working mostly for the elite, and the other
one mostly decorating middle-class houses, shops, and restaurants. The chap-
ter evokes a detailed and vivid picture of a branch of the economy that,
especially in Pompeiis last years, must have been ourishing.
Money and Trade
Part IV groups together four chapters which explore questions of coinage,
money, and commercial transactions, starting with a methodological contribu-
tion from excavations at Pompeii and moving to a broader picture of trade in
the Bay of Naples region. In Chapter 10, Steven J. R. Ellis explores the analytical
possibilities of the coin evidence gathered in his excavation of the two house
blocks surrounding the lowest stretch of the Via Stabiana. Ellis notes that his
coins, even though many come from shops, were mostly found in construction
layers, not in deposits suggestingcoin loss; he introduces the concept of afterlife
coinageas a tool for discussing the whereabouts of coins between the moment
that they stopped circulating as coins, and the moment of their nal deposition
in construction layers. At Pompeii, Ellis argues that coin nds often should be
seen as indicating building activity rather than as a proxy for retail activities; in
the Porta Stabia area they serve to highlight a commercial boomin the
Augustan period, whilst at the same time suggesting a massive increase in
monetary exchange in the preceding period in Pompeii in general.
42
Gille (1979).
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The next three chapters relate the evidence of Pompeii to the wider historical
context in which the city operated. Chapter 11, by Richard Hobbs, discusses the
Republican coins found in the excavation of insula VI 6, highlighting both the
circulation of large quantitiesof coins from cities in the Western Mediterranean,
particularly Ebusus and Massalia, alongside local (or regional) imitations of
these coins, which sheds new light on the commercial ties of Pompeii and the
Bay of Naples region in the second and early rst centuries BC.
The subsequent chapter by Koenraad Verboven discusses currency and
credit in the entire Bay of Naples area. Focusing on the rst century AD,
Verboven sketches the structural elements of the monetary economy of the
region within which Pompeii functioned. Connecting evidence from within
the city and the archive of the Sulpicii, found just outside Pompeii but
referring principally to transactions at Puteoli, with literary and juridical
texts, he argues that, while coins were a dominant element in the regional
money system, credit and accounting instruments played a crucial role in the
economy, reducing transaction costs perhaps to an extent rare in many other
places in the Roman world.
The archive of the Sulpicii also plays a central role in Chapter 13, by Wim
Broekaert, who focuses on the social institutions and juridical frameworks
surrounding long-distance trade in the port of Puteoli, and particularly on how
traders dealt with fraudulent business partners. Broekaert shows how the close-
knit business community at Puteoli used the exibility inherent in the Roman
juridical system, as well as reputation mechanisms, to prevent their business
partners from fraudulent behaviour. While this chapter does not directly deal
with Pompeii itself, it highlights a central element in the economic world in
which Pompeii functioned: the everyday processes of business and trade.
The volume concludes with a response by Wim Jongman, whose 1988
monograph on the economy and society of Pompeii has played a pivotal
role in approaches to Pompeiis economy over the past twenty-ve years. In
Chapter 14, Jongman assesses how research over the intervening period has
altered the picture, and suggests further avenues for fresh enquiry, in particu-
lar, on understanding the economic realities of agriculture in the Vesuvian
region. As he rightly observes, the chapters of this volume together provide a
more positive assessment of Pompeiis economic performance than some past
accountsincluding Jongmans own.
DISCUSSION
Our view of Pompeiis economic history is far from complete yet, and as
several of the contributions to this volume have suggested, there are still many
roads that can and need to be explored further, particularly when it comes to
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our understanding of the citys consumer economy, the economic strategies
that shaped the built environment, and the ties of Pompeii with its regional
surroundings, and its immediate hinterland and agricultural production. The
chronological dimension of our understanding of Pompeiis economy can also
be strengthened considerably, as undoubtedly will happen following the nal
publication of all projects that, in recent years, have explored the historical
development of Pompeiisinsulae. Yet, in this volume, Chapters 4, 8, 10, and
11 already highlight how Pompeiis economy changed between the second
century BC and the rst century AD. While Pompeii will never provide us with
the possibility to discuss the historical development of an urban economy
from the beginnings of urbanization to late antiquity, it does provide us with
the possibility to study the development of an urban economy from the middle
Republican period until the late rst century AD, when urbanism in Roman
Italy was at its peak, or close to it. Moreover, it increasingly does so in a way
that is unparalleled elsewhere: any scepticism about the possibility of studying
historical change in the urban economy of Pompeii implies scepticism about
the general possibility to do this in any urban economy in the Roman world.
Thus it seems worthwhile to delineate the broad characteristics, as they
currently appear, of Pompeiis economy on the eve of the citys destruction.
We should not lose sight of the fact that Pompeii was a port city on the Bay of
Naples, and even though its harbour has not been identied with certainty, we
may presume it served at least three functions: the export of some of the
agricultural production (especially wine, as discussed by De Simone) of the
citys territory, and that of Nuceria and Nola too; the import of a range of
consumption goods from overseas; and, probably, a role as a shing harbour
providing at least the city and immediately neighbouring villas with fresh sh
and shellsh, and no doubt also serving the sh-salting industry, of which
there is evidence.
The citys connectivity, and its particular location on the Bay of Naples, with
a high concentration of elite (including senatorial and equestrian) villas in the
vicinity, perhaps gave it access to an unusually wealthy market. Estimates of
the population (see Chapter 2) at between 7,500 and 13,000 (including the
immediate suburbs) put Pompeii squarely in the range of middling cities, well
above the hundreds of towns with populations of up to c.5,000, but well behind
the larger cities (many of them ports) around the Mediterranean whose
populations ranged from 25,000 to in excess of 100,000.
43
The citys role as
a local and perhaps regional market is emphasized by 800 shops lining
the main streets, their location strongly inuenced by the intensity of trafc
along particular thoroughfares. These xed installations for the sale of par-
ticular goods, in addition to the commercial public spaces of the forum and
43
Cf. Wilson (2011).
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macellum, are perhaps a characteristic feature of Roman urbanism in the
Western provinces; they show a thriving retail economy, with a high degree
of specialized trades, serving both local residents and the inhabitants of the
surrounding villas. Especially interesting is a group of fourteen tabernae built
as a single complex outside the Herculaneum gate, clearly an investment in
commercial property. Striking too is the high number158of bars and
establishments selling hot food, although it is unclear whether Pompeii was
unusual in this respect, or that we simply do not have evidence of equivalent
quality from elsewhere.
44
The thirty-nine bakeries suggest that, by the mid- to
late rst century AD, most of the urban population consumed shop-bought
bread, again an indication of specialization of labour; the nds of large
numbers of commercial mills at, for example, Timgad, Djemila, and Volubilis,
suggests that this was not unusual in the Roman Empire, at least from the
second century AD.
45
This commercial landscape was animated by a high
degree of monetization, with the use of small change facilitating quotidian
purchases, and credit arrangements available for larger, mercantile, transac-
tions and investments.
The numerous tabernae included a number of relatively small-scale work-
shops, as well as retail shops, but the urban landscape of production was also
characterized by a number of larger-scale workshops, some inserted into large
atrium houses, and thus implying sufcient wealth to own such a property.
46
Those which can be identied from their archaeologically durable built
infrastructure include dyeworks, fullonicae, tanneries, perfume workshops,
and pottery workshops. The evidence demonstrates capital investment in
specialized plant for a variety of manufacturing processes, and incidentally
gives the lie to the notion that smelly and polluting activities were banished
outside the city limits.
47
Moreover, a series of workshops (the so-called
ofcinae lanifricariae) whose function is disputedsome see them as for
washing eecesalso represent specialized investment in some kind of pro-
duction; whatever these were for, there are between thirteen and twenty-four
of them.
48
Together with the epigraphic evidence for the production of sh
sauce and related products at Pompeii, by A. Umbricius Scaurus and others, it
seems that the citys production activities encompassed a range of products,
each produced on a scale requiring multiple specialized workshopsand, in
the case of textiles, specialized workshops for different stages of production.
Some properties in the east of the city also specialized in market gardening
and viticulture.
44
Chapter 7 (this volume: 218).
45
Volubilis: Luquet (1966). Timgad and Djemila: A. Wilson, personal observation in 2013.
For the Pompeian bakeries see Chapter 7 (this volume: 218).
46
Cf. Flohr (2007).
47
See on this, also Flohr (2013: 22934); Monteix (2013).
48
Chapter 7 (this volume: Figure 7.3).
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These shops and workshops, and larger production units, often formed part
of elite property portfolios (as Chapter 8 emphasizes), which also included
rental properties. We cannot always be sure whether shops incorporated into
the street façades of elite houses were directly owned, and run through slaves,
or through freedman agents, or were rented out; but the key point is that
income from them formed an integral part of the income streams of Pompeiis
elites. Certainly A. Umbricius Scaurus, with a oor mosaic in his atrium
representing the urcei in which his sh sauce was traded (complete with tituli
picti), was not shy about advertising his involvement in trade to visitors.
49
In
Pompeii, prot was not something of which to be ashamed.
To sum up, Pompeians consumed a rather varied diet, lived reasonably long
and healthy lives, and had relatively easy access to consumer goods and art.
The citys economy was highly monetized from at least the late rst century BC
onwards, and maintained active ties with the Bay of Naples region and
beyond. Continuous investment in commercial facilities like shops and work-
shops testies the vibrant and stable character of the Pompeian economy.
Indeed, for a pre-industrial city, rst-century AD Pompeii was performing
rather well, and it increasingly seems that it had been doing so for at least
the two preceding centuries as well. We can only conjecture what its devel-
opmental trajectory might have been like had its growth not been suddenly
arrested in AD 79; how would it have compared, in the mid-second century,
with other cities on the Bay of Naples and ports around the Mediterranean?
As far as the Roman economy is concerned, this book does not offer a lot of
support for the more pessimistic readings of Roman economic performance.
Two general points may be mentioned. In the rst place, many chapters
highlight the interconnectedness of Pompeiis economy. As Chapter 11
emphasizes, this began long before the grain eet started to arrive in Puteoli
on a yearly basis: from at least the second century BC onwards, Pompeii and its
surrounding countryside were connected, directly or indirectly, to the Medi-
terranean trade system, and these connections, which also facilitated the trade
in Vesuvian wine, were of vital importance in shaping the Pompeian economy,
and its society. Without these networks, Pompeii would have been a different,
and probably a smaller and less wealthy city. Secondly, Pompeii, andas
Chapter 4 clearly suggestsHerculaneum as well, were able not only to
support the consumption of luxuries by a small group of elite households,
but also by large parts of the rest of the population. Even if the Bay of Naples
region is not representative of Roman Italy or the Roman world in general, this
means that, under the right circumstances, Roman urban economies were able
to provide opportunities for non-poor, non-elite households to accumulate
wealth, andthusenable them to use the urban economy as a tool for social
49
On these mosaics see Curtis (1984).
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advancement. Whether we want to call these households middling groups,
middle class, or something else does not matter: their existence adds a
exibility to Roman socio-economic landscapes that should not be underesti-
mated. The question should thus no longer be whether these non-poor, non-
elite households existed, but how common they were and under which
circumstances they could ourish: their presence or absence is a useful tool
for understanding the success or failure of specic urban economies.
In any case, looking at mid-rst-century AD Pompeiibefore the earth-
quakes beganone sees a ourishing urban economy that essentially was
neither primitive nor modern, but that proted massively from the unique
political and economic circumstances created by its position in the heart of the
Roman Empire. Studying this very specic urban economy is not a cul-de-sac,
but serves to illuminate also the larger historical processes at work, and what
they could bring to local economies. In this respect, it is only to be hoped that
future work on the economic history of specic cities will enable the scholarly
community to compare the local outcomesof these large historical processes
in a more informed way.
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Introduction: Investigating an Urban Economy 19
... The urban centre (forum) was home to the city's main civic, commercial and religious institutions. Due to its views and moderating maritime influence, Herculaneum was considered an ideal resort and residential town, with fewer public and commercial buildings than Pompeii [43][44][45]. ...
... In addition, Pompeii was the entrepôt for the Sarno river valley, which allowed it to trade with other inland cities through fluvial networks. By contrast, Herculaneum had a relatively small port with an economy that served local needs [43,44]. In this context, the Roman world represented globalization before this term existed, establishing an extensive trade network, not only maritime and fluvial, but also terrestrial. ...
... Thus, commerce played a fundamental role in the local economy, as evidenced by the abundance of shops and taverns unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Mainly agricultural products were commercialized, although artisanal or "industrial" activities related to the transformation of farm products were also developed [43,44]. ...
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It has often been remarked that the location of the frontier lines of the Roman empire coincided roughly with the outer perimeter of the provincial territory that was occupied by peoples whose social structure was easily adapted to the Roman administrative system. Any significant measure of economic growth in the frontier zones could have been achieved only by improving agricultural efficiency or by expanding the amount of land under cultivation. There is in fact little reason to doubt that agricultural output was increased in at least some of the frontier zones, like the Rhineland, where more intensive cultivation is attested in the lower Mosel-Main, the Wetterau, and the agri decimates. Parts of northern Gaul were given over to the production of cereals for the army stationed on the Rhine. The absence of local produce among some of the frontier garrisons may have led to an increase in trade across the frontiers.
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The apple of discord: fleece-washing in Pompeii's textile economy. A response to M. Flohr - Volume 26 - Nicolas Monteix