Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate

Mary Beard writes:

As Holleran’s subtitle – ‘The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate’ – more accurately has it, her book is really about buying and selling in ancient Rome, rather than shopping, for which there is, in any case, no equivalent Latin word. And most of it is concerned with making sense of the puzzling archaeological traces of commercial activity in Roman towns, from fast-food outlets and bars to the infrastructure of finance and wholesale supply. Holleran gathers together an impressive range of material from all over the Roman Empire (including Viroconium in Shropshire, where crockery was on sale, stacked high, in the portico of the forum, when a devastating fire struck: the bowls were found by archaeologists 1800 years later, still in their piles, if a bit charred).

(LRB 3 January 2013)

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