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date: 28 November 2020

markets and fairs, Romanlocked

  • Antony Spawforth


The Forum was originally (i.a.) a market-site, the word surviving in this sense in the specialized markets of Rome (e.g. *forum Boarium), although by the 1st cent. bcemacellum was the usual term for an alimentary market. A daily retail market existed in Rome by 210 bce (Livy 26. 27. 1–4) and later was joined by others; wholesaling took place at the riverine Emporium, built in 193 bce (Livy 35. 10. 12). The state supervised Rome's markets through *aediles. State-authorized periodic markets and fairs (nundinae, mercatus) have recently been shown to be commoner than usually thought in the Roman world. In cities they included both weekly (‘peasant’) markets, as for instance in some 25 towns in central Italy of the first cent. ce (attested by inscribed market-calendars), and also regional fairs, as with those following annual games at Rome itself (Inscr. Ital.

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