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Article

Carlos Machado

The annona was the imperial service responsible for overseeing the supply of key food items to the city of Rome and the army. Primarily concerned with grain, the service became increasingly involved in the provisioning of other commodities, such as olive oil, wine, and pork. By the end of the 3rd century, the annona was a complex machinery involving private and public agents in different parts of the empire, overseen by the prefect of the annona, based in Rome. The operation of this system is documented in literary texts, administrative documents such as papyri and writing tablets, inscriptions, and a rich archaeological record, in Rome and in the provinces. However, the precise working of the system and the degree to which it was controlled by the Roman state remain open to debate. The annona was also involved in the supply of the army, especially with regards to provisions brought from distant producing centres. During the later empire, the system became more centralised, being overseen by the praetorian prefecture.

Article

Dimitri van Limbergen

Grape cultivation reached Greece towards the end of the 3rd millennium bce, and Italy around the beginning of the 1st millennium bce. From the 8th century bce onward, systematic viticulture expanded, and wine became deeply embedded in Greco-Roman society at all levels. It was the beverage of choice for both the wealthy and the poor, a major intoxicant in the ancient world, and an essential source of energy in the daily diet. Wine was widely used in religion, feasts, and medicine, and was considered a key marker of civilized culture. Combined with the vine’s high productive potential and its low agronomic needs, all this made wine a primary feature of the agrarian economy and an important product of (inter)national trade. Literature, iconography, and archaeology sketch a picture of significant Greek and Roman realizations in vine-growing techniques and winemaking technology, thus testifying to a level of scientific expertise unmatched until the 19th century. The consumption of wine was stratified and diversified, with the market divided between premium vintages for the rich, ordinary wines for the masses, and winery drinks for the lower classes.