I have never done this before as a scholar, but I thought it might make sense to start the new year with briefly looking back on the year that has just ended. The raw basics of my 2013 may be known to some readers: April 1st, I left the University of Oxford and the Roman Economy Project to start as a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University to work on my new project - 'Building Tabernae' (and to do some teaching). Furthermore, somewhere around the end of May, my book - The World of the Fullo - was published, and some copies arrived in my office soon afterwards. Obviously, that was a great moment - to finally have the final and definitive result of ten years work in your hands. It also was great to start in a new academic environment - though I was sad to leave the old one to which I had just become used. Yet, this is only the surface. In what follows, I will discuss what I have actually been working on, highlighting a triad of themes and topics that coloured my work this year: Roman textile economies, urban craftsmen and traders, and, of course, my new project - building tabernae.
Building Tabernae is an NWO Veni Project based at the University of Leiden (2013-2017). The project focuses on urban commercial space in Roman Italy and deals with the impact of economic growth on urban communities in the late Republic and the Imperial period (200 BCE – 300 CE). It will investigate how favourable economic circumstances under the Roman Empire fostered the emergence of new and more ambitious forms of investment in commercial space, and it aims to understand how this transformed the physical and social fabric of the cities of the Italian peninsula.
The project will use archaeological and textual evidence and belongs to the field of ancient history as much as it belongs to that of classical archaeology. Thematically, it operates on the interface of social and economic history and explores to which degree economic developments fostered social change. It specifically attempts to connect two highly vibrant debates: the debate about Roman urbanism and that about Roman economic life.
Both debates have seen significant development over the last decades. Discourse on Roman urbanism has moved away from the traditional emphasis on (monumental) architecture and urban planning towards studying urban landscapes in a more integrated manner (seminal is Laurence 1994). Discourse on Roman economic life has developed beyond the consumer city debate that dominated the field in the 1990s (e.g. Mattingly 1997; Erdkamp 2001), now focusing more and more on the social and spatial contexts of economic processes (Mouritsen 2001; Robinson 2005; Flohr 2007).
Yet, while these debates play a central role in Roman scholarship and thematically increasingly overlap, they interact only to a limited degree. Consequently, the relation between economic developments and developments in urbanism is not well-understood. This significantly impedes our understanding of Roman history. This project will contribute to filling this gap.
M. Flohr (2013). The World of the Fullo. Work, economy and society in Roman Italy. Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy. Oxford University Press. Oxford. Hardcover, 424 Pages / 159 illus. 9.2 x 6.1 inches. ISBN: 9780199659357. £ 90,00 (here).
While research for a second book is already under way, my first monograph, the world of the fullo. Work, economy and Society in Roman Italy, came out May 31st (2013) at OUP. It is the final publication of the research I did while I was working on my dissertation at Radboud University Nijmegen. Most of the original thesis was written between early 2008 and late 2009, but the text was substantially revised in 2011, while I was in Oxford, and finalized in March 2012, when it was sent to OUP for publication. More details, and ordering info, are available on the OUP website. In the following paragraphs, I will briefly describe what the book is trying to do, and how the narrative of the book develops from chapter to chapter.
Originally published at Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.02.51
This is a highly relevant book that breaks important new ground in an area of Roman studies that has suffered from neglect both traditionally and in recent years: retail, though socially and economically a defining aspect of urban life in the Roman world, has not been high on the agenda of Roman scholars – neither of those studying urbanism, nor of those focusing on the Roman economy. While various scholars have focused on certain aspects of retail or certain datasets related to it (e.g.macella or bars), Holleran is the first to discuss the topic in a broad and thematic way. Thus, while the primary focus of the book is on the city of Rome, it provides a conceptual framework that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on future debates on retail and consumer economies in the Roman world.
One of the things that the collapse of the House of the Gladiators at Pompeii, again, made painfully clear is that excavated material remains have a life cycle too. At the very moment of their discovery, walls, floors and plaster are taken out of the stable environment that has protected them for so long, and they immediately resume doing what they had been doing before they were buried: suffering from wind, sun, rain, noise, pollution and vibrations. It is not said, of course, that their previous environment was completely hospitable and nice, but, generally speaking, architectural remains decay considerably more slowly underground than they do exposed to the banal reality of everyday.
Djemila Roman Italy Ostia Urbanism centonarii tabernae money sutores Intellectual History amphorae trade Region VI coinage Pompeii Building Tabernae innovation Roman Africa Technology Crafts and Manufacturing Rome Timgad 273 AD monetary reform Africa Proconsularis professional associations Roman Economy
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|Sole, L. (2002) 'Monumenti Repubblicani di Ostia Antica'. ArchClass 53, 137-186.|