Trade and the storing of goods.

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Trade and the storing of goods.

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Mon Feb 03, 2003 9:13 pm

Salvete Romani,

as promised earlier I will post this essay I wrote almost a year ago. Here it is, enjoy!

Trade in the Roman Empire

Ports

Ordinary Roman ports were little more than protected beaches. Small trading vessels either ran aground on the sand or moored at the edge of navigable water. They usually approached the port at high tide, and were unloaded at low tide onto carts or wide, flat barges called "lighters". Some ports used winches to draw ships aground.
Busier ports had more improvements. "Moles" were long fingers of land built into the sea to break up the waves. Sometimes moles had lighthouses at their end, and they usually had docks to wich ships could moor. These artificial harbors were cramped, and sailing ships relied on tugboats to escort them to their quays. The tugs attached a line to the cargo ship's prow, then rowed to their assigned berth.
Traders would bargain for unconsigned cargoes right at the dock, but most goods were pre-sold and went directly to warehouses.

Markets

Shopkeeping was a low-class profession usually left to slaves or freedmen. Cicero considered merchants to be near the bottom of the list of acceptable professions for cultured Romans. Markets were boisterous places offering the full range of products from across the Empire. Most were open-air, but some buildings, like the "basilica", housed permanent shops and were the forerunners of modern malls.
Basilicae, the prestigious shopping adresses, offeres shoppers relief from the summer heat as they persud the finest goods in the Roman Empire.
One of the largest and the most famous, the Basilica Julia, doubled as a court of justice and meeting hall for the Senate. Trials were open to the public and lawyers hired crowds from the basilica shoppers to cheer them on, hoping to influence the judge.
The Emperor Caligula liked to throw copper coins of the basilica to watch people fight over them. The Basilica Julia burned down twice and in the heat of the fire, forgotten copper coins melted and became green stains on the marble floor.
Less-permanent markets, called "tabernae", existed from the earliest days of the Republic, These simple booths were stalls, or even just tents, in wich everyone from farmers to money-lenders could peddle their wares.

Storing of the goods

To store the goods obtained by trade or produced, they built warehouses and granaries. Both of these structures were cheap and made out of inexpensive materials ( e.g. wood ). They had too be dry, secure and free of vermin. The warehouses were mostly located near important roads and ports. Although both the ports and the farms had a warehouse it was rather small and therefore urban warehouses and urban granaries were built. These were more permanent and built out of stone. To prevent stealing, warehouses sometimes hired watchmen. Only cities that traded a lot had need of a warehouse, but every city needed a granary to store their food. Even forts needed one! Granaries were the earliest large public structures and were made out of wood, bricks and concrete (the latter pioneered by the Romans).

Some of this information may be dated or new facts might have been discovered. If anyone would like to add, have questions or wants to share useful links about sites concidering Trade and the storing of goods, just post it and I'll reply as soon as I can.

Valete bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
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Merchandise

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:37 pm

Salvete Romani,

I hope you enjoyed my small essay about
"Trade and the storing of goods".

After re-reading my own text after it was posted, I came to the conclusion that it didn't really say what the Roman traded. So here's a short list of the goods availeble for trade in the Roman Empire:


China
Silk

India
Pepper and other kinds of spices

South Arabia
All kinds of perfume (e.g. Frankincense)

Syria
Wool
Linen
Pottery

Parthia
Iron

Mesopotamia
Metals
Precious Stones

Arabia
Asphalt

Central Africa
Ivory

Egypt
Glass
Grain
Papyrus

Asia Minor
Wool
Linen
Wine

Scythia
Grain
Honey
Hemp

Cyrenaica
Medical Herbs
Timber

Thrace
Grain
Fish
Horses

Dacia
Gold
Timber
Horses
Salt

Greece
Wine
Honey
Linen

Macedonia
Grain
Fish
Gold

Sicily
Grain
Fruit
Wool

Italia
Iron
Oil
Pottery

Dalmatia
Gold
Hides
Iron

Germania
Amber
Glass
Hides

Numidia
Marble
Wool
Pottery

Sardinia
Grain

Gallia
Gold
Pottery
Wine

Britannia
Tin
Iron
Wool

Hispania
Gold
Copper
Fruit

Mauretania
Timber
Wild Animals (to participate in fights)

The short list turned out to be a longer one then I had expected :) . Maybe somebody has got some links about this topic that I could use to improve my essay? Information, is as always, very welcome.

Valete bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Scorpio
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