Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
This presentation dives deep into the social and economic worlds of the Roman shop. As the most common form of any singular type of Roman building, shops were at once a vital fixture in the operation of a Roman city: they were omnipresent along all of the busiest roads, and gathered in number at street intersections and other central locations. But what do we really know about the place of Roman shops and bars in all of this urban system? And how can we better understand how they were used by those on either side of the shop counter? In order to throw some new light on the formation of Roman retail landscapes, a new kind of socio-economic framework is offered to understand the motivations behind urban investment in Roman shops. Their historical development is also unraveled to identify three major waves – or, revolutions – in the shaping of retail landscapes. The presentation features two entirely new bodies of evidence. The first is generated from the University of Cincinnati’s recent archaeological excavations into a Pompeian neighborhood of close to 20 shop-fronts. The second comes from the presenter’s field-survey of the retail landscapes of more than 100 cities from across the full breadth of the Roman world. The richness of this information, combined with an interdisciplinary approach to the lives of the Roman sub-elite, results in a refreshingly original look at the history of retailing and urbanism in the Roman world.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Ellis, Steven J.R., 2018, The Roman Retail Revolution. Oxford University Press.