Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Although mostly recognized as the “breadbasket” of Rome among historians of the Graeco-Roman world, the economy of Roman Egypt was diverse and robust and included more products than just grain. Egypt housed numerous established industries which were central for the running of the empire, such as papyrus, rope, and textiles, and as the southernmost point of the Empire, it connected Rome to sub-Saharan Africa. Its Red Sea coast facilitated trade with the Arabian Peninsula and India, acting as a redistributor of luxury items and much sought-after spices, and its deserts contained large quarries of sand and limestone as well as more precious building materials such as porphyri and granite. For all its resources, it is surprising how often Egypt gets overlooked as a major economic center for the Roman Empire in major scholarship on the ancient economy. Therefore, this lecture aims to bring Egypt at the front and center of the Roman economy by investigating the global impact of its various industries and economies.