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date: 16 January 2021

pastoralism, Romanlocked

  • M. Stephen Spurr


Pastoralism, whether good, bad, or indifferent, provided the most lucrative returns, according to *Cato (Censorius) (Cicero, Off. 2. 89; Columella, Rust. 6 praef. 4–5; Plin.HN 8. 29–30). Thus scholars have traditionally focused on such profitable forms of stockbreeding (sometimes described as ‘ranching’) as *Varro's long-distance, large-scale *transhumance of sheep between *Apulia and the Abruzzi (Rust. 2. 2. 9)—entreprenerial pastoralism largely divorced from, or even in competition with, settled *agriculture, which exploited Rome's post-Hannibalic control of Italy (see punic wars; rome (history), § 1.4). More recently, evidence from archaeology (patterns of rural settlement, *villaExcavation, and analysis of animal bones and plant remains) and ethnography (the study of still-extant traditional forms of pastoralism), together with a close reading of the Roman *agricultural writers, has begun to round out the picture by emphasizing the more widespread, if less prominent, closer integration of pastoralism with agriculture. Subsistence *peasants, who owned a few sheep for clothing, milk, cheese, and manure (Columella, Rust.

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