Tiberis Navigabilis: Commercial activity between Rome and the Middle Tiber Basin during the Roman period
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The study of commercial relations between the city of Rome and the Tiber Basin of the interior of west central Italy has received little attention on the part of researchers. The thesis that follows is an attempt to model this activity during the first two and a half centuries AD using a variant of central-place theory known as the dendritic or mercantile model. This model presupposes that marketing activity will be clustered around natural transport corridors and that the long-distance transfer of goods and commodities from producer to consumer will be facilitated through the actions of wholesaling middlemen. It is argued that the Tiber River was the primary transport corridor in west central Italy. Along this corridor, goods and commodities for the supply of Rome were channeled into the city through the actions of negotiatores and that materials were redistributed back out from Rome to consumers in the Tiber basin using the Tiber itself. The Middle Tiber basin has been chosen as the primary unit of study because it lies on the outer limit of two-way navigation on the Tiber and also because the author has been involved in archaeological fieldwork within the region.Once we have defined our model, we proceed to examine urban demand at Rome and what segment of that demand was supplied by producers and wholesalers located in the Middle Tiber Valley. We then examine the infrastructure and organization of this commercial activity, from the initial estate-gate auctioning of commodities, to their transshipment onto Tiber barges and their storage and auctioning at Rome. In the last chapter, we analyze the redistribution of consumables transported in amphoras out from Rome into the Middle Tiber basin. This involves a comparative analysis of several archaeological data sets from various sites in the Middle Tiber basin to discern marketing patterns within the region and the redistributive function of the regional primate center, Rome.