SHOPPING AND C OMMERCE IN A NCIENT R OME
Angela pp. 111-118, 146-149, 155-156.
Where Did You Go To Shop inAncient Rome?
• No malls, supermarkets, outlets.
• Formal markets, smaller shops (tabernae), and other kinds of retail trade.
• (mostly clothing and luxury goods today)
• We’re hampered by the biases of our sources (mostly about upper class only).
• 1. In the Roman Forum
• 2. In the Forum Boarium (meat only)
• 3. In the Saepta Julia in the Campus Martius
• Very expensive bazaar and antiquities market
• Lots of luxury goods (Saepta Julia)
• It was possible to pawn goods in the Saepta Julia, as well as buy them.
• 4. Trajan’s Markets
• Built between 100-110 CE
• Ahuge semicircle that wraps around an exhedra.
• What was the purpose and form of the Markets.
• This complex was excavated in the 1930s.
• By then most of the tabernae had lost most of their distinctive features.
• Rebuilt and restored by archaeologist Corrado Ricci in this form!
• Originally, were market shops? Offices? Acommercial area? Barracks for soldiers? An administrative
• Taberna (pl. tabernae) all purpose word for commercial establishment.
• Puzzling to determine what went on in specific shops as often the archaeological finds are not goof
enough to determine this.
• In Pompeii: a medical establishment.
• Herculaneum: a metal worker.
• Butcher’s knives in shops are a good indicator.
• Shop signs were painted on the walls outside the shop.
• Did the owner/manager live on the premises with his or her family?
• Were they crammed together on the mezzanine floor which many shops have? Or is this where surplus
stock was left?
• Who came to the shop?
• Would the rich view the goods in their own homes (sellers came to them)?
• Often tabernae would cluster in partiular areas of the city
• No street maps: Shops tended to cluster so people could find them easier.
• Vicus Unguentarius: street of the perfume-sellers
• The Via Sacra was dominated by