Tanti non emo, Sexte, Piper: Pepper Prices, Roman Consumer Culture, and the Bulk of Indo-Roman Trade

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Abstract

In contrast to other Indian exports, black pepper was widely available throughout the Roman World, and affordable for ordinary working people. The relatively low price of black pepper indicates that Indo-Roman trade goods was not just pitched at the very wealthy, but benefited a much broader segment of the population. This throws new light on the scale and cultural impact of Indo-Roman trade, which appears to have exploited Rome’s burgeoning non-elite “consumer culture” in the early imperial period. The scale and cultural impact of Indo-Roman pepper and other trade is evidenced by a wide variety of Western sources and ancient Indian texts.

  • Aubert, J.-J. 2004. Aux origines du canal de Suez ? le canal du Nil à la mer Rouge revisité. In Espaces intégrés et ressources naturelles dans l’Empire romain, ed. Clavel-Lévêque, M. and Hermon, E. Besançon: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté: 219-252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aubert, J.-J. 2015. Trajan’s Canal: River Navigation from the Nile to the Red Sea? In Across the Ocean: Nine Essays in Indo-Mediterranean Trade, ed. De Romanis, F. and Maiuro, M. Leiden: Brill: 33-42.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bakels, C.; Jacomet S. 2003. Access to Luxury Foods in Central Europe during the Roman Period: the Archaeobotanical Evidence. World Archaeology 34/3: 542-557.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beaujard, P. 2011. Evolutions and Temporal Delimitations of Bronze Age World Systems in Western Asia and the Mediterranean. In Interweaving Worlds: Systemic Interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st Millennia BC, ed. Wilkinson, T. and Sherratt, S. and Bennet, J. Oakville, CT: Oxbow Books: 7-26.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beresford, J. 2013. The Ancient Sailing Season. Leiden: Brill.

  • Bopearachchi, O; Pieper, W. 1998. Ancient Indian Coins. Turnhout: Brepols.

  • Bresson, A. 1993. Les cités grecques et leurs emporia. In L’emporion, ed. Bresson, A. and Rouillard, P. Paris: Diffusion de Boccard: 163-226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bresson, A. 2014. Le change à Délos et la question du kollybos. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 138: 5-23.

  • Bresson, A. 2015. The Cost of Getting Money in Early Ptolemaic Egypt: the Case of Pap.Cair.Zen. I 59021 (258 BCE). In Transactions Costs in the Ancient Economy, ed. Kehoe, D. and Ratzan D. and Yiftach, U. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press: 118-144.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Casson, L. 1989. The Periplus Maris Erythraei: Text with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cobb, M. 2013. The Reception and Consumption of Eastern Goods in Roman Society. Greece and Rome 60/1: 136-152.

  • Cobb, M. 2015. Balancing the Trade: Roman Cargo Shipments to India. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 34/2: 185-203.

  • Courrier, C. 2014. La Plèbe de Rome a sa culture (fin du IIe siècle av. J.-C. du Ier siècle ap. J.-C.). Rome: Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cuvigny, H. 1996. The Amount of Wages Paid to the Quarry-Workers at Mons Claudianus. The Journal of Roman Studies 86: 139-145.

  • De Romanis, F. 1996. Cassia, cinnamomo, ossidiana: uomini e merci tra Oceano Indiano e Mediterraneo. Rome: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Romanis, F. 2006. Aurei after the Trade: Western Taxes and Eastern Gifts. In Dal Denarius al Dinar: L’Oriente e la Moneta Romana, ed. De Romanis, F. and Sorda, S. Rome: Istituto Italiano di Numismatica: 55-82.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Romanis, F. 2012. Playing Sudoku on the Verso of the Muziris Papyrus. Journal of Ancient Indian History 27: 75-101.

  • De Romanis, F. 2014. Time to Repay a Maritime Loan: A note on SB III 7169 AND SB XVIII 13167 RECTO. Sileno 1-2: 73-89.

  • De Romanis, F. 2015. Comparative Perspectives on the Pepper Trade. In Across the Ocean: Nine Essays in Indo-Mediterranean Trade, ed. De Romanis, F. and Maiuro, M. Leiden: Brill: 127-150.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Romanis, F. 2016. An Exceptional Survivor and its Submerged Background. The Periplus Maris Erythraei and the Indian Ocean Travelogue Tradition. In Submerged Literature in Ancient Greek Culture. Volume 2, Case Studies, ed. Colesanti, G. and Lulli, L. Berlin: De Gruyter: 97-110.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deyell, J. 1984. Indo-Greek and Ksaharata Coins from the Gujarat Seacoast. The Numismatic Chronicle 144: 115-127.

  • Dietrich, H. 1883. Der Periplus des Erythräischen Meeres von einem Unbekannten. Leipzig: Veit.

  • Erdkamp 2016. Economic Growth in the Roman Mediterranean World: An Early Good-bye to Malthus? Explorations in Economic History 60/C: 1-20.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Falk, H. 2015. Indian Gold Crossing the Indian Ocean Through the Millennia. In Across the Ocean: Nine Essays in Indo-Mediterranean Trade, ed. De Romanis, F. and Maiuro, M. Leiden: Brill: 97-113.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frier, B. 1977. The Rental Market in Early Imperial Rome. Journal of Roman Studies 67: 27-37.

  • Gilles, J. 2013. Der römische Goldmünzenschatz aus der Feldstrasse in Trier. Trier: Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier

  • Hall, K. 2014. Networks of Trade, Polity, and Societal Integration in Chola-Era South India, c. 875-1400. New Delhi: Primus.

  • Harrauer, H.; Sijpesteijn, P. 1985. Ein neues Dokument zu Roms Indienhandel, P. Vindob. G 40.822. Anzeiger der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philologisch-Historische Klasse 122: 124-155.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harris, W. 2006. A Revisionist View of Roman Money. The Journal of Roman Studies 96: 1-24.

  • Hirth, F. 1917. The Story of Chang K’ién, China’s Pioneer in Western Asia: Text and Translation of Chapter 123 of Ssï-Ma Ts’ién’s Shï-Ki’. Journal of the American Oriental Society 37: 89-152.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jablonka, P. 2014. Globalisierung im 3. Jahrtausend v. und n. Chr.—Interpretationen archäologisch sichtbarer Kontakte von der Ägäis bis zum Indus von der nordwestlichen Peripherie aus betrachtet. Altorientalische Forschungen 41: 41-62.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jha, A.; Rajgor, D. 1992. Studies in the Coinage of the Western Kṣatrapas. Anjaneri: Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johns, J. et al. 2010. The Hoxne Late Roman Treasure: Gold Jewellery and Silver Plate. London: British Museum Press.

  • Kron, G. 2014. Comparative Evidence and the Reconstruction of the Ancient Economy: Greco-Roman housing and the Level and Distribution of Wealth and Income. In Quantifying the Greco-Roman Economy and Beyond, ed. François de Callataÿ. Bari: Edipuglia: 123-146.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livarda, A. 2011. Spicing up Life in Northwestern Europe: Exotic Food Plant Imports in the Roman and Medieval World. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 20: 143-164.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mayer, E. 2012. The Ancient Middle Classes. Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire 100 B.C.E-250 C.E. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Metcalf W. 2016. North Africa’s Largest Known Gold Hoard. Journal of Roman Archaeology 29: 887-887.

  • Mirashi, V. 1981 The History and Inscriptions of the Sātavāhanas and the Western Kshatrapas. Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Board for Literature and Culture.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Monteix, N. 2010. Les lieux de métier: boutiques et ateliers d’Herculanum. Rome: École française de Rome.

  • Morelli, F. 2011. Dal Mar Rosso ad Alessandria. Il verso (ma anche il recto) del ‘papiro di Muziris’ (SB 18 13167). Tyche. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte, Papyrologie und Epigraphik 26: 199-233.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nantet, E. 2016. Le tonnage des navires de commerce en Méditerranée: du VIIIe siècle av. l’ère chrétienne au VIIe siècle de l’ère chrétienne. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nappo, D. 2015. Roman Policy on the Red Sea in the Second Century CE. In Across the Ocean: Nine Essays in Indo-Mediterranean Trade, ed. De Romanis, F. and Maiuro, M. Leiden: Brill: 55-72.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Olivelle, P. 2013. King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India: Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra: a New Annotated Translation. New York: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parker, G. 2002. Ex Oriente Luxuria: Indian Commodities and Roman Experience. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 45/1: 40-95.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Peacock, D., Williams, D., James, S. 2007. Basalt as Ships’ Ballast and the Roman Incense Trade In Food for the Gods: New Light on the Ancient Incense Trade, ed. Peacock D. and David Williams, D. Oxford: Oxbow Books: 28-70.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Peacock, D. et al. 2011. Myos Hormos—Quseir al-Qadim: Roman and Islamic Ports on the Red Sea. Vol. 2: Finds from the Excavations 1999-2003. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Possehl, G. 1996. Meluhha. In The Indian Ocean in Antiquity London, ed. Reade, J. Kegan Paul International: 133-208.

  • Raschke, M.G. 1978. New Studies in Roman Commerce with the East. In Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 9.2, ed. Temporini, H. Berlin: De Gruyter: 604-1361.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rathbone, D. 2000. The Muziris papyrus (SB XVIII 13167). Financing Roman trade with India. Bulletin de la Société d’Archéologie d’Alexandrie 46 (Alexandrian Studies II in Honour of Mostafa el Abbadi): 39-50.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rathbone, D. 2009. Earnings and Costs: Living Standards and the Roman Economy. In Quantifying the Roman Economy Methods and Problems, ed. Bowman, A. and Wilson A. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 299-326.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ray, H. 1986. Monastery an Guild. Commerce under the Sātavāhanas. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

  • Robinson, M.; Rowan, E. 2015. Roman Food Remains in Archaeology and the Contents of a Roman Sewer at Herculaneum. In A Companion to Food in the Ancient World, ed. by Wilkins, J. and Nadeau, R. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell: 105-115.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sidebotham, S. 1986. Roman Economic Policy in the Erythra Thalassa 30 B.C.-A.D. 217. Leiden: Brill.

  • Sidebotham, S. 2011. Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Sima Qian 司馬遷 1959. Shi ji 史記. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

  • Stein-Hölkeskamp E., 2014. Essen ohne Grenzen. Transfer und Transgression im Imperium Romanum. Hermes 142: 162-180.

  • Strauch I. 2012. Foreign Sailors on Socotra: The Inscriptions and Drawings from the Cave Hoq. Bremen: Hempen

  • Tchernia, A. 1997. The Dromedary of the Peticii and Trade with the East. In Crossings: Early Mediterranean Contacts with India, ed. De Romanis, F. and Tchernia, A. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors: 238-249.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tomber R. 2008. Indo-Roman Trade: From Pots to Pepper. London: Duckworth.

  • Turner, P.J. 1984. Roman and Indigenous Coins in Central and Southern India in the First to Third Centuries AD. PhD Dissertation. Institute of Archaeology, University of London.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van der Veen, M.; Morales, J. 2015. The Roman and Islamic Spice Trade: New Archaeological Evidence. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 167: 54-63.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Veyne, P. 2005. “Existait-il une classe moyenne en ces temps lointains?” In L’Empire gréco-romain. Paris: ed. Veyne, P. Éd. du Seuil: 117-161.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallace-Hadrill, A. 2008. Rome’s Cultural Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

  • Whittaker, C. 2004. Rome and Its Frontiers: The Dynamics of Empire. London: Routledge

  • Wilcken, U. 1925. Punt-Fahrten in der Ptolemäerzeit. Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 60: 86-102.

  • Wilson, A. 2015. Red Sea Trade and the State. In Across the Ocean: Nine Essays in Indo-Mediterranean Trade, ed. De Romanis, F. and Maiuro, M. Leiden: Brill: 13-32.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wild, K. 2011. Beschriftete mesopotamische Siegel der Frühdynastischen und der Akkad-Zeit. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 255 178 11
Full Text Views 257 225 13
PDF Downloads 55 47 7