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Wednesday, March 30 • 15:30 - 15:55
S17-01 Transport and trade: An energyscape model and transport network approach for trade in Roman times

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Transport and Trade: an energyscape model and transport network approach for trade in Roman times

Devi Taelman, Dimitrij Mlekuž

Movement of goods is vital in all human societies. Complex societies are characterised by an increased importance of movement as the production of goods tends to be distributed geographically among all members/cities of the society. Roman society is particularly known for its well-developed trade systems where goods – such as food, wine, olive oil, pottery and stone – were moved in enormous quantities and over long distances.

We believe that the distribution of bulky and heavy goods is particularly related to the cost of their transport and that physical geography can be a major constraint to this transport. While Roman water transport has already received significant scholarly attention, land transport is studied only superficially. Many urban centres could, however, not be reached without land transport. Land transport was thus inevitable and formed an integral part of Roman trade.
In this paper, we present different energyscape models for depicting the predicted energy costs of transporting heavy loads by land. The resulting energy networks are compared to identify differences in the structures and the focal points of the networks, such as changes in the location of distribution hubs or changes in the locations of critical intermediary sites that determine the direction, quantity and volume of flow and therefore critically contribute to the cost of moving and trading heavy loads. This approach allows for a better evaluation of how land transport could have acted as a structuring variable for the Roman landscape and the Roman economy.
As a case study, the trade of marble in Central Adriatic Italy in Roman times is selected. Stone resources suitable for ornamental use did not occur in central Adriatic Italy and thus had to be imported. The marble assemblages of several Roman towns in the area are compared with the results of the energyscape models and transport networks.

avatar for Mark GROENHUIJZEN


PhD Candidate, VU University Amsterdam

Philip Verhagen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Wednesday March 30, 2016 15:30 - 15:55 CEST
Domus Media, Auditorium 13