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Black Pepper Consumption in the Roman Empire

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Author: Matthew Cobb1
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  • 1 University of Wales Trinity Saint David
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Abstract

During the Roman Imperial period huge quantities of black pepper arrived into the Empire from southern India and were employed in a range of contexts, from the culinary and medicinal, to the religious. This article seeks to examine the popularity of black pepper in the Roman Empire and test the theory that its consumption was not simply restricted to elite circles, but reached a wider spectrum of the population. In particular, price and wage data from the Edict of Maximum Prices is examined to see how feasible it was for those lower down the socio-economic spectrum to make such purchases.

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