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Explaining the commerce of Roman Mediterranean ports: the evidence from scripta commercii and law

Explaining the commerce of Roman Mediterranean ports: the evidence from scripta commercii and law
Explaining the commerce of Roman Mediterranean ports: the evidence from scripta commercii and law
The aim of this work is to study the commercial activity of Mediterranean ports during the first three centuries of the Roman Empire. There has been an increase in the last years in the amount of ancient port studies, increasingly showing that ports cannot be viewed in isolation, or simply in relation to the sea (Keay: 2012). That conception has been the impetus for the development of interdisciplinary studies carried out on several ports (e.g. Portus, Baelo Claudia, Narbonne). Archaeologists have recovered many Roman-era port structures revealing the multiple functions of these constructions (e.g. administrative, legal). However, regarding the available evidence of these structures, almost nothing is found in recent publications that tells us how a port worked, what its output was, how wholesale and retail sales were transacted, or what sort of accounting and registration of the transactions took place at ports. These gaps in the research are partly due to the lack of consideration of the legal framework in relation to commerce and distribution, and especially concerning the merchandise that was distributed between ports. In order to try to answer questions such as these, this study seeks to understand the commercial procedures taking place across the interconnected port-systems from the Mediterranean in the period from 1st through the 3rd cent. AD. This research focuses on the commercial inscriptions, which I have labelled as scripta commercii. These inscriptions recorded essential data (e.g. owner, weight) from the contracts agreed by the parties, the diverse controlling procedures carried out, and the itinerary traced by the container from the departure until the arrival to destination, among other things. My work evidences a model concerning the commercial cycle in which artefacts moved from the point of manufacture and purchase (e.g. kilns) until their arrival at a specific destination (e.g. port, market). This model will be applied to three main case studies concerning the functions of sale, transport and control performed on the distribution of merchandise from port to port. These three case studies will reveal different features of the contracts used for the distribution of goods for both retail and state supply, and of the roles played by the different actors involved in distribution. Every legal decision made by anyone engaged in maritime trade would have been driven by one overarching agenda, namely to reduce the risk of the venture failing. The iv study of the contracts of sale and lease & hire through material and textual evidence will highlight the flexibility of these contractual schemes, which can be adapted to different situations depending on the agreements established by the parties. In addition, these three case studies, and especially the one concerning control, will question the relation between private and public in the Roman Empire, reassessing the roles of private subjects for the Annona distribution. Finally, the three case studies bridge the gap between the legal schemes provided by Roman jurists and the daily commercial practices performed by merchants.
University of Southampton
Mataix Ferrandiz, Emilia
14a6e19e-99fb-46bf-8017-49bc8720ddfb
Mataix Ferrandiz, Emilia
14a6e19e-99fb-46bf-8017-49bc8720ddfb
Keay, Simon
52b4cdfd-fc5e-4fa0-bd3e-8dd896624f41
Mladenovic, Dragana Ehrismann
7b10b3ca-e3f2-488c-81d8-6bc406449002

Mataix Ferrandiz, Emilia (2018) Explaining the commerce of Roman Mediterranean ports: the evidence from scripta commercii and law. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 734pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The aim of this work is to study the commercial activity of Mediterranean ports during the first three centuries of the Roman Empire. There has been an increase in the last years in the amount of ancient port studies, increasingly showing that ports cannot be viewed in isolation, or simply in relation to the sea (Keay: 2012). That conception has been the impetus for the development of interdisciplinary studies carried out on several ports (e.g. Portus, Baelo Claudia, Narbonne). Archaeologists have recovered many Roman-era port structures revealing the multiple functions of these constructions (e.g. administrative, legal). However, regarding the available evidence of these structures, almost nothing is found in recent publications that tells us how a port worked, what its output was, how wholesale and retail sales were transacted, or what sort of accounting and registration of the transactions took place at ports. These gaps in the research are partly due to the lack of consideration of the legal framework in relation to commerce and distribution, and especially concerning the merchandise that was distributed between ports. In order to try to answer questions such as these, this study seeks to understand the commercial procedures taking place across the interconnected port-systems from the Mediterranean in the period from 1st through the 3rd cent. AD. This research focuses on the commercial inscriptions, which I have labelled as scripta commercii. These inscriptions recorded essential data (e.g. owner, weight) from the contracts agreed by the parties, the diverse controlling procedures carried out, and the itinerary traced by the container from the departure until the arrival to destination, among other things. My work evidences a model concerning the commercial cycle in which artefacts moved from the point of manufacture and purchase (e.g. kilns) until their arrival at a specific destination (e.g. port, market). This model will be applied to three main case studies concerning the functions of sale, transport and control performed on the distribution of merchandise from port to port. These three case studies will reveal different features of the contracts used for the distribution of goods for both retail and state supply, and of the roles played by the different actors involved in distribution. Every legal decision made by anyone engaged in maritime trade would have been driven by one overarching agenda, namely to reduce the risk of the venture failing. The iv study of the contracts of sale and lease & hire through material and textual evidence will highlight the flexibility of these contractual schemes, which can be adapted to different situations depending on the agreements established by the parties. In addition, these three case studies, and especially the one concerning control, will question the relation between private and public in the Roman Empire, reassessing the roles of private subjects for the Annona distribution. Finally, the three case studies bridge the gap between the legal schemes provided by Roman jurists and the daily commercial practices performed by merchants.

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Published date: March 2018

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Local EPrints ID: 436549
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/436549
PURE UUID: ce7a338a-1637-4c44-a329-01caf203e743

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Date deposited: 12 Dec 2019 17:30
Last modified: 12 Dec 2019 17:30

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