The economic history of Rome from the first, like all ancient Mediterranean economies, involved the interaction of the circumstances of local *agriculture with the available *labour supply in the context of opportunities for interregional redistribution in which the exchange of other commodities was involved. It is now certain that from the 7th cent bce. Rome was privileged among other *Tiber valley communities as a centre for the movement of people and materials from peninsular Italy out into the world of Mediterranean contacts. The Romans believed that they had imported cereals from *Campania from at least the early 5th cent., and that they had freed their citizens from the risk of debt-bondage (nexum; see debt) at the end of the 4th. It was important to their self-image that they considered the area around their city to be of only moderate productivity, and that it had been assigned in lots from an early period to citizens who worked them independently. Historically, this enthusiasm for the lot was of more significance in the concept of public ownership of land, and the practice of dividing and assigning it (see ager publicus).