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date: 27 January 2021

shops and shoppingfree

  • Claire Holleran


Almost all inhabitants of the ancient world were dependent to varying degrees on retailers to supply them with at least some food items, raw materials, or manufactured goods, and this was particularly true of urban inhabitants. While the amount of built commercial space increased in the Hellenistic period and was a particular feature of Roman urban centres, we cannot trace a simple linear development from periodic markets through to permanent shops. Instead the retail trade remained varied throughout antiquity, consisting of periodic and permanent markets, shops and workshops, and street stalls and ambulant hawkers, all of which performed complementary roles within an integrated network of distribution. The size of the local market, however, inevitably had an impact on the organisation of the retail trade, with increased specialisation and clustering of trades possible in larger urban centres, where a wider range of products was typically available to the consumer and capital investment in dedicated commercial space was encouraged by the level of demand for goods.

Ancient shopping was an immersive and interactive experience. Prices fluctuated in response to market pressures and were very often arrived at through haggling and bargaining. Markets, shops, and streets were as much places of social interaction as they were of shopping, and men and women mixed freely as both buyers and sellers. Advertising and marketing may have been rudimentary, but the attempts by retailers to maximise sales contributed to the colorful and vibrant nature of the ancient commercial environment; the open doorways of shops and workshops facilitated interaction between those inside and outside, and goods, sellers, and customers often spilled out onto the street, while painted notices and signs displayed goods for sale, and the distinctive shouts of sellers competed loudly for the attention of potential customers.

Most urban households in the ancient world were dependent on the market not only for a large proportion of their food, but also for commodities such as fuel, and a wide range of consumer goods, including shoes, clothing, lamps, pots, pans, and a wide variety of other domestic items; in rural areas too, farmers were not entirely self-sufficient but were typically producing enough surplus to enable some engagement with the market. A thriving retail trade arose to fulfill the demands of these households, particularly in urban centres, a development which was also facilitated by the spread and availability of coinage and the increased sophistication of banking. Despite the notable increase in the amount of dedicated commercial space, particularly in the Roman period, retail trade remained varied, consisting of a complementary network of periodic and permanent markets, shops and workshops, and street stalls and ambulant hawkers, all of which are discussed further in the following sections. The practices of specialisation and clustering, together with the use of advertising and marketing techniques to maximise sales, are also considered. While there are examples of price fixing in the ancient world—most famously with the issuing of Diocletian’s Price Edict in 301 ce—these were largely short-term emergency measures, primarily related to the sale of grain, and prices were normally set by the market forces of supply and demand, although possibly with some supervision, at least for staple food items (see Agora and Fora for agoranomoi and aediles). The price of food items in particular must have fluctuated seasonally, but the price of manufactured goods was also subject to change, depending on factors such as the availability of raw materials, shipping patterns, and consumer demand (e.g. Theophr. Char. 4.15; Xen. Poroi 4.6).1 Haggling and bargaining appear to have been commonplace, again indicating that prices were rarely fixed.2

The widespread haggling over prices also made shopping an interactive and social experience. Indeed, despite the fact that our literary sources hold retail traders in low regard and commonly associate them with dishonesty, markets and shops were common meeting-places and were central to social life in towns and cities throughout antiquity.3 Socrates, for example, famously spent time in the workshop of Simon the shoemaker near the agora (Diog. Laert. II xiii 122–123), while Lysias (24.19–20) talks of people in Athens passing the time in shops, especially those of perfumers, barbers, and cobblers.4 How a person behaved in the marketplace could even be indicative of their character, as demonstrated by Theophrastus’s repeated focus on behavior in the agora in the Characters.5 In late antiquity too, Libanius (Or. 8.4, 31.25, 48.13) mentions shops as important places for socialising and centres of gossip.6 Men and women mixed together freely in markets and shops, with women acting as both buyers and sellers.7

Agora and Fora

The agora or forum was at the centre of civic life in the ancient city, accommodating political, legal, and commercial activity. In Classical Athens, as in other Greek poleis (Hdt. 1.153), the agora housed a market, with sellers setting out their wares on tables (trapezai) or in booths known as skenai.8 These were perhaps enclosed with wicker, since Demosthenes (18 (De Cor.) 169) says that the Prytaneis shut out the occupants from their skenai and burnt the wickerwork constructions (gerra) in response to the news of Philip II’s taking of Elateia in 339 bce, although the meaning of gerra here is not immediately clear (Harp. s.v. gerra).9 Further sellers sold goods from baskets (e.g. Alexis, Lebes, fr.133), sacks (e.g. Ar. Acharn. 729–814), from under sunshades made of cloth (e.g. Ath. Deip. 13.612a), or almost certainly simply from the floor, as we see in illustrations from the Roman period.10

The area immediately surrounding the agora was also commercial in character, with permanent structures intended for manufacture and trade constructed from as early as the 5th century bce.11 In the agora itself, while it is possible that some of the earliest stoai, such as the Royal Stoa, the Painted Stoa, or the so-called South Stoa I, were used for commercial activities, there is no direct evidence for this.12 The first securely attested use of a stoa in the agora for commercial purposes is the flour market, located in the Alphitopolos Stoa and mentioned by Aristophanes in 391 bce (Eccl. 686). By the Hellenistic period, the commercial aspect of the agora was more formalised, a development marked particularly by the construction of Stoa of Attalos in the mid-2nd century bce. This was a large structure, 116 meters in length with forty-two single commercial units spread over two floors, and fronted by a wide colonnade, providing shelter for buyers and perhaps additional trading space for sellers.13 The Middle Stoa, South Stoa II, and the short stoa on the east side also date to the 2nd century bce, and may too have served as market buildings, forming a “commercial agora” to the south of the main political and legal space.14 The increasing monumentalisation of commercial space in Athens continued in the Roman period with the construction of the “Roman Market” under Augustus (IG II2 3175).15

In Rome, the term forum was originally used to refer to a marketplace rather than a political space, with specialised markets named after the goods sold (Var. Ling. 5.146); in Republican Rome, these included the forum Boarium (cattle), the forum Holitorium (vegetables), the forum Cuppedinis (delicacies), and the forum Piscatorium (fish), and in the imperial period, a forum Suarium (pigs), Vinarium (wine), Pistorum (bread), and Gallorum et Rusticorum (chickens and wildfowl) are also documented. The forum Romanum was also a commercial center, and Livy claims that permanent shops or booths were found there already in the 6th century bce (Livy 1.35.10).16 Originally these apparently housed butchers (Livy 3.48.5), but they were later given over to bankers as part of a deliberate move to increase the dignity of the space (Var. ap. Non. 853L). They were located on the north side of the forum, and following rebuilding after a fire in 210 bce became known as the tabernae novae, in contrast to the tabernae veteres on the south side (Livy 26.27.2–3). These more permanent structures were probably supplemented by traders working from more informal spaces, such as tables or mats, although in Rome there does appear to be a move to separate commerce from the political and legal spaces of the city by the late Republic; Appian (B Civ. 2.102), for example, claims that Caesar constructed his forum with the intention that it be used as a place for public business rather than commerce. Areas in the immediate vicinity of the forum Romanum and the numerous imperial fora, however, remained thriving commercial districts, and this was probably also the case with the fora themselves.17

Certainly agora and fora remained at the centre of commercial life elsewhere.18 In Petronius’s Satyricon (12–15), for example, the narrator Encolpius and his companions enter the forum of a southern Italian town in twilight to find a market still taking place. A frieze from the estate of Julia Felix at Pompeii (II.4) also points to the presence of retailers in the forum.19 This frieze depicts a series of typical forum scenes and includes numerous retailers in among images of legal judgements and business transactions, deliveries made by mules, a schoolboy being punished, and people reading notices; a colonnade running behind the images demonstrates that the setting is the Pompeian forum. Retailers are shown selling food, such as bread, fruit, and hot food from a cauldron suspended over a fire, as well as manufactured goods, including shoes, cloth, and bronze vessels. These are laid out for sale on temporary wooden tables, in baskets, or just on the floor, while the cloth sellers and the shoe seller also provide benches to enable their customers to sit down; the shoe seller has even marked out his sales spot using curtains hung between columns.

Reliefs from Roman Italy and Gaul also depict stalls made up of trestle tables. A 2nd-century ce relief of a vegetable seller from Ostia, for example, shows the seller standing behind a trestle table on which vegetables are displayed for sale, with a basket underneath pointing to the temporary nature of the stall.20 Another relief from Ostia shows a poultry seller behind a stall made up of cages containing poultry and rabbits, while a relief from Bordeaux depicts the sale of goods from sacks.21 It is not clear if these reliefs are intended to illustrate stalls within a formal marketplace, or more informal street stalls.

Such retail is difficult to document archaeologically, although sometimes traces of stalls can be found.22 At Wroxeter (Viroconium) in Britain, for instance, excavations revealed stacks of pottery vessels that appear to have fallen from tables set up in the portico of the forum during a fire in the mid-2nd century ce.23 Excavations in Cherchel (Iol Caesarea) in Algeria have identified traces of small timber-framed stalls located in front of a portico in the forum; large numbers of 4th-century bronze coins found in the paving cracks beneath probably indicate a commercial function, and date the structures to the 4th, or possibly 5th, century.24 At Sagalassos in Turkey, traces of stalls have been found at the late antique pavement level of the forum, dating probably to the 6th century; some of these stalls are also linked with topos inscriptions that perhaps denote ownership or rental of these spaces.25

Markets were regulated by agoranomoi in Greek poleis. In Athens, these officials were in charge of overseeing the markets, ensuring the quality of goods, and collecting market dues (Arist. Ath. Pol. 51.1–2). Other officials (metronomoi) were in charge of enforcing the use of official weights and measures in Athens, but in other poleis, this was also the job of the agoranomoi. In Greek-speaking provinces, agoranomoi continued this role into the Roman period, while their Latin equivalent in Italy and the western provinces were known as aediles.26 In Apuleius’s novel Metamorphoses (1.24–25), for example, Lucius heads for the forum Cuppedinis in Hypata in order to buy something for his supper, but the fish that he purchases are promptly destroyed by his friend Pythias, the local aedile (the Latin term is used here, although the setting is Greek). Pythias appears to be concerned with the supervision of prices as well as the quality of goods sold, since he berates the seller for selling goods of inferior quality at high prices. In this case, he may be regulating rather than fixing prices, but agoranomoi at Roman Pergamum appear to be fixing the price of small fish (OGI 484), suggesting a wider concern with prices among market officials.27 Such summary justice by a market inspector may have been fairly typical, but in this instance, it is Lucius, not the seller, who is punished, since he is left without either his supper or a refund.

Periodic Markets and Fairs

When looking at the evidence for retail stalls both in the forum and elsewhere, it is difficult to distinguish between those that were in more or less permanent use, and those that were part of periodic markets. In the frieze of forum scenes from Pompeii, for example, garlands are shown strung between columns in the background, which may indicate that this was intended to show a special day of some sort, perhaps market day. Certainly periodic markets were a regular feature of ancient urban centres, and in most places the agora or forum would be the natural location for such markets, although in Roman Egypt, village markets also met in temple drumoi.28 Periodic markets typically linked an urban centre to its rural hinterland, providing an opportunity for local peasant farmers and market gardeners to sell their surplus produce in the town, as well as to purchase supplementary food items and goods manufactured by urban craftsmen, and to access urban services and learn about political and legal developments (Theophr. Char. 4.15; Columella, Rust.; Plin. HN 18.13; Macrob. Sat. 1.16.32–35).29

Aristophanes attests to monthly periodic markets in Classical Athens (Ar. Eq. 43–44; Vesp. 169–171; Theophr. Char. 4.15), a pattern which appears in other Greek towns in the Roman period, such as Alesiaeum (Str. 8.3.10) and Tetrapyrgia (IGRom. IV 1381), while twice-monthly markets are also attested, as at Baetocaece in Syria in the 3rd century bce (IGLS VII 4028, l.15–39) or in Roman North Africa.30 Periodic markets were held more frequently in other areas in the Roman period, when they were known as nundinae, literally meaning “nine days.” Given the Roman practice of inclusive counting, this denotes a frequency of every eight days, although the term nundinae took on a more general sense of “market” by the 2nd century ce and was no longer tied to a specific frequency.31 Surviving market schedules from 1st-century ce Campania list twenty-five market locations, including Rome, suggesting that nundinae were important to more than peasant farmers, and that they played a role beyond simply local exchange. In this region at least, nundinae were part of a more integrated market system, frequented by traders who were following circuits of periodic markets (Inscr. Ital. XIII.2: 49–54).32

Periodic and permanent markets were not mutually exclusive. Demand was high enough in most urban centres, particularly the larger ones, to support a daily market. The market gardener in Apuleius, for example, visits town every morning to sell his produce, at least in the summer (Apul. Met. 9.32; see also Plut. Arat. 8.3). However, there was no linear progression from a system of retail based on periodic markets to one based on permanent markets and shops. Rather, periodic markets were complementary to permanent markets and shops, and there is evidence that they continued even in Rome into the 1st century ce, when they may have been held in the Circus Flaminius.33 The number of retailers—and correspondingly the number of buyers—reached a peak on market day, when auctions and other activities were also scheduled.34

Periodic markets are also attested in rural areas, and in the Roman period, on private estates; here they facilitated horizontal exchange between rural producers, and in stretches of countryside too thinly populated to support a permanent economic centre or a daily market, they allowed diversity of food for the rural population.35 Rural populations probably relied heavily on these markets, together with itinerant peddlers (e.g. Ar. Acharn. 860–958; Ath. Deip. 8.358d–e), particularly where it was not practical to make the journey into an urban area. Low-frequency markets or fairs were also held in conjunction with religious festivals, taking advantage of the concentration of consumers in a single location, a practice that can most likely be dated back to 5th-century bce Olympia, if not earlier (Cic. Tusc. 5.3.9; see also Dio Chrys. Or. 35.15–16).36


In the Roman period, a particular type of market building developed, known as the macellum. These structures typically consisted of an enclosed courtyard, often with an internal colonnade, surrounded on some or all sides by shop units. There was usually a focal point in the centre of the courtyard, consisting of a round building or tholos, a water basin, a fountain, or occasionally a statue. As a building type, it probably originated in Rome in the 3rd century bce, with the first macellum destroyed by fire in 210 bce, and its replacement demolished in order to facilitate the construction of the Basilica Aemilia; a third Republican macellum was constructed in 179 bce, situated to one side of the forum Romanum, reached by a short street, the Corneta, that led off the Via Sacra.37 Vespasian’s Temple of Peace was later constructed on the same ground, but by this time there were two other macella in Rome: the Macellum Liviae on the Esquiline, and the Macellum Magnum on the Caelian.38 The macellum as a public building was established in other parts of Italy and Sicily already in the Republican period (e.g. in Alba Fucens, Pompeii, and Morgantina), and it appears in the provinces in the imperial period, although in many places macella are attested epigraphically rather than archaeologically (e.g. in Italy at Brundisium and Herculaneum; in the provinces at Apollonia, Bracara Augusta, Lugdunum, Madaura, and Sparta).39 New macella continued to be built and restored into the early 5th century in the west and into the 6th century in the east.40

A macellum was a provisions market, but it was not a standard market selling everyday food to urban inhabitants. Instead, a macellum was a high-status, specialised building that sold a limited range of goods, primarily fish and meat, to wealthy consumers; in this way, it complemented rather than replaced other markets and market buildings.41 Fish may have been particularly predominant in the Republican period, when the earliest macellum in Rome was also referred to as the forum Piscatorium, while meat appears to have been more dominant in late antiquity, when writers associated the macellum with slaughter42; the survival of the term macellum into modern Italian to denote a butcher (macellaio) and a slaughterhouse (macello) also suggests that in late classical or early medieval Latin, the term had come to be associated with butchers. Fish were sold at auction, and there was an argentarius based in the Macellum Magnum in Rome in the 1st century ce in order to facilitate these sales, extending short-term credit to buyers. His tombstone shows a scene of a fish auction in action, with the deceased, Lucius Calpurnius Daphnus, standing on a platform holding a fish in one hand and a codex in the other, flanked by two men carrying baskets of fish (CIL VI 9183).43 While exceptional and very often exaggerated, especially in a satirical context, the literary sources point to very high prices for fish sold in the macellum, particularly red mullet, ranging from 3,000 sesterces for a single fish to 30,000 for three mullets.44 Tiberius apparently reacted to the latter sale by proposing that prices in the macellum should be regulated annually by the Senate, but there is no evidence that this was actually implemented (Suet. Tib. 34.1).


Retail also took place in shops and workshops. These typically clustered around the central civic spaces and main thoroughfares of urban centres in order to ensure maximum visibility and attract more customers.45 As Lysias (24.20) noted already in the 4th century bce, it was better to base a business as close to the Athenian agora as possible, since footfall was high in these areas and businesses correspondingly busier. The amount of specialised commercial space increased from the Classical to the Hellenistic period in Greece, and the number and visibility of commercial units rose further in the Roman period.46 This increased capital investment in commercial space reflects the growing commercialisation of the economy and the stability of urban demand, which made long-term investment in commercial space viable. Furthermore, the provision of commercial space became a matter of civic pride and formed part of the expected amenities of an urban centre.

The basic architectural configuration of shops and workshops dates back to at least the 6th century bce, but it became more established in the Hellenistic period and continued broadly unchanged into late antiquity.47 Rooms of a simple rectilinear (or occasionally trapezoidal) plan that open directly onto a street, square, or portico tend to be identified as commercial; sometimes these include a mezzanine floor and/or a back room, particularly those that date from the Roman period. Such rooms are found in the façades of buildings, opening onto stoai or porticoes, and in independent structures with a specialised commercial function. They were predominantly rental units and provided an income for local town councils or for individuals, depending on whether they were publicly or privately owned.48

Shop fronts in the Greek world tended to have either single or double doors, a practice which continued in the eastern provinces through the Roman period into late antiquity, while in Italy and the western provinces, wide doorways closed by wooden shutters were more typical.49 This wide entranceway was ideal for a commercial function, since it maximised light and air and allowed passersby to see, hear, and smell the activities going on inside, demonstrating also that the seller had nothing to hide. The shop design thus facilitated interaction between those inside and outside the units and allowed the interior to act as its own advertisement. Apuleius (Apol. 61), for example, describes how he was so taken by wooden statuettes being produced in a workshop that he passed in a North African town that he commissioned the artisan to produce some work for him.50 It was common for production and retail to be combined in this way, with a craftsman retailing his own products from his workshop. The area directly in front of the open doorway could be used for the display of goods, particularly if it opened into a sheltered space such as a stoa, portico, or arcade. This would have enabled shoppers to browse without causing any congestion, as well as protecting them from the elements, although apparently shops were causing such an obstruction in 1st-century ce Rome that Domitian was forced to issue an edict instructing them to stay within their thresholds (Mart. 7.61). This must have been an ongoing problem, since it was felt necessary to issue further legislation in the following century (Papin. Dig.–5). Texts from Roman Palestine also indicate the dangers of this practice for both pedestrians and traders; one, for example, recounts a story of a blind man passing by a glass shop, who hits a box of glass vessels on the street outside the shop with his stick, breaking the glassware.51

A wide variety of ancient terminology can potentially be applied to these commercial units, but many were probably known by the generic terms ergasterion in Greek and taberna in Latin. These terms appear to have been synonymous, as demonstrated by a bilingual text of the early 3rd century ce.52 The literary evidence indicates that these were multifunctional spaces that could be used for a wide variety of commercial activities. The sheer flexibility of these units was almost certainly part of their appeal. Aeschines (In Tim. 1.124), for example, claims that if a doctor establishes himself in an ergasterion, it becomes a doctor’s surgery; if he leaves and a blacksmith establishes a forge, the room becomes a blacksmith’s workshop; if a fuller sets himself up in the room, it becomes a fullery; if a carpenter moves in, a carpenter’s workshop; or if prostitutes are installed, it becomes a brothel.53 Both the literary and archaeological evidence for tabernae indicates a similar variety of commercial functions, ranging from workshops (e.g. metalworking, clothmaking, shoemaking), to the production and sale of food (e.g. bakers, butchers, fishmongers, cookshops), and all aspects of the service industry (e.g. fullers, barbers, bars) and retail.54 Bars are one of the more notable functions of commercial units in the ancient world, and these are particularly recognisable in the archaeological record in Roman Italy, where masonry counters survive at sites such as Pompeii and Ostia.55 In both the Greek and the Roman world bars played an important role not only in the social life of urban inhabitants, but also in the distribution of food and drink, which was sold to eat and drink on the premises and at home.

Street Stalls and Ambulant Hawkers

Despite the increasing monumentalisation of commercial space, street traders, hawkers, and peddlers continued to play a role in ancient retail, although at times it can be difficult to distinguish these sellers from those who traded within permanent or periodic markets.56 This problem is compounded by the fact that the ancient terminology for stallholders and hawkers is somewhat indistinct. In Greek, kapelos, a generic term for a retailer, could also be used to refer to street traders and ambulant hawkers, including those who moved around cities and those who moved from place to place, sometimes following the army.57 In Latin, a wider variety of terminology was used, much of it makeshift, including ambulator, circitor, circumforaneus, circulator, and institor.58Ambulator, circitor, and circumforaneus all derive from verbs related to movement and imply hawkers who move around, presumably with goods carried on a tray or a basket, although the sausage seller in Aristophanes’s Knights has some sort of portable table. From the Roman period, a funerary relief of a fruit seller from Narbonne shows him carrying apples in a basket that hangs around his neck, while the small statuettes from the House of P. Cornelius Tages at Pompeii (I.7.10) are thought to depict heavily caricatured street sellers hawking goods from trays.59 Goods could also be carried on poles, as with the hawkers carrying garlands on curved poles depicted in a burial chamber near S. Stefano Rotondo in Rome.60

The term circulator, on the other hand, implies sale from a fixed spot, since it derives from the verb circulo indicating the formation of circles and groups around oneself; the term is also used to refer to entertainers and points to the performative aspect of trading (see Advertising and Marketing). Such sellers probably worked from trays or baskets, or simply from mats on the floor, but others may have had more substantial stalls, such as those made out of trestle tables or animal cages, discussed in Agora and Fora. Spaces for sale could also be marked out with cloth strung up between columns or trees, as we see in the painting of forum scenes from Pompeii, and also in the foreground of another Pompeian wall painting, this time depicting the riot in the amphitheatre in 59 ce; this also includes a wooden hut, which may be a more permanent sales kiosk. The Yakto mosaic (also known as the “megalopsychia”), which shows scenes of daily life in 5th-century Antioch, even shows meat being prepared and sold on portable chopping blocks, alongside bread and other foodstuffs (Antakya Museum, inv. 1016).

Finally, institor is a legal term for a business manager, although in certain contexts it appears to refer to stallholders or ambulant traders, many of whom may have been sent out from more fixed premises to sell goods in other locations, thus maximising sales, as, for example, we see with the sale of bread (Ulp. Dig. and cloth (Ulp. Dig.

Although street traders and hawkers could potentially sell a wide variety of items, most references relate to the sale of food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, milk, pulses and grain, sausages, bread, and dishes made with chickpeas.61 Fresh food was a popular item to sell since it could be bought in small quantities on a daily basis, and there was no need to procure storage space. Furthermore, fresh food items such as fruit, vegetables, and prepared meals were particularly suited to sale from stalls or by ambulant hawkers, since by necessity they had a quick turnover, and given the concentration of consumers in urban centres, there was a guaranteed market for these items, particularly as many urban residents probably lacked the space and facilities to prepare and serve food within their own homes and were typically reliant on bars, street stalls, and hawkers to provide them with meals.

Street sellers and hawkers tended to be found where there were concentrations of potential customers, enabling traders to maximise the market for their goods.62 Popular places of sale included temples and entertainment venues such as circuses, amphitheatres, and theatres, where peaks in demand were linked to religious festivals and performance times. Trading places outside the amphitheatre at Pompeii were so hotly contested that stallholders needed permission from the aedile to trade, as indicated by the painted notices on the exterior of the amphitheatre, which also point to the regulation and licensing of stallholders.63 Bathhouses too were favorite haunts of sellers (Sen. Ep. 56.2), who were probably also found in the busiest central areas of cities, such as around the agora or forum, as well as important public buildings.

Street selling, particularly ambulant hawking, which required only a tray or basket rather than a pitch for a stall, was an easy occupation to enter, needing little initial capital investment and few skills aside from basic numeracy. For unskilled workers in ancient urban centres, employment was likely sporadic, casual, and seasonal, and street selling provided a means of generating an income when other work was not available; for those who were physically unable or unwilling to work as laborers, street selling may also have provided an essential means of support. Some must have become successful sellers who were able to build up profitable businesses, and it was these sellers who were able to record their occupations on funerary monuments or commission stone reliefs of their stalls. Others, as we have seen, were employed by producers or retailers and sent out to sell in other places, thus expanding the potential market for the goods sold.

Clustering and Specialisation

In larger urban centres, the size of the market encouraged specialisation and the clustering of trades. In the Athenian agora, for example, sellers of particular goods clustered together in certain areas; “as Euboulos says in Olbia, you will find everything sold together in the same place at Athens” (Ath. Deip. 14.640b). Locations were named after the things sold in them; the opson in the agora, for example, was an area where opsa or eatables were sold.64 Other areas were dedicated to the sale of specific foodstuffs, including olives and olive oil, walnuts, myrtle berries and fruits, fish, flour, garlic and onions, other vegetables, cheese, and wine, as well as manufactured commodities such as clothing, reins, haberdashery, perfume, wreaths, pots, lamps, and books.65 There was a specific area dedicated to the sale of slaves, known as the kykloi or “rings”; according to Harpocration, this was because the people to be sold stood in rings, although other merchandise appears to have been sold here also.66 There was even a women’s agora (gynaikeia agora) dedicated to the sale of items purchased by women.67 Such locations must have been well known to most Athenians, since Menander was able to suggest the olive-oil market as a meeting-place (Schol. Od. 8.260). A similar picture of market “zoning” emerges from Xenophon’s description of the market at Sparta (Xen. Hell. 3.3.5–7), and it was also commonplace in Rome.68

This rational organisation of retail enabled buyers not only to find what they were looking for more quickly but also to browse among competing (or colluding?) sellers with ease. Indeed, Xenophon argued that one of the virtues of this system was that whenever servants were sent out to buy something from the agora, they knew exactly where to go in order to purchase each particular item (Xen. Oec. 8.22). For sellers, it reduced marketing costs and facilitated the spread of knowledge about the market, enabling the sharing of information about supply, prices, and demand. In larger markets, sellers and producers were also able to specialise in a particular product, such as women’s sandals, while in an area of low demand, sellers and producers would have to diversify, selling a wider variety of sandals and shoes (Xen. Cyr. 8.2.5).

Advertising and Marketing

While advertising and marketing may have been fairly undeveloped, ancient retailers were by no means passive sellers of their wares. The locations of shops and stalls, for example, were carefully chosen in order to maximise sales; sellers set up in areas of high foot traffic and within clusters of other traders selling the same goods, a practice that enabled potential customers to find them easily. The design of shops—in Roman Italy and the western provinces at least—with their wide-open doorways also allowed the interior of the unit to act as its own advertisement to passers-by, while the area immediately in front of the entrance was used for display.

Paintings and reliefs on the façade of shops and workshops also acted as advertisements for the goods made and/or sold within, as, for example, with the painting of the manufacture and sale of felt items outside a commercial unit on the Via dell’Abbondanza at Pompeii (IX.7.5–7), or the images of jugs with different prices on the outside of the Casa del Salone Nero at Herculaneum.69 Such signs were particularly commonplace outside bars; at Pompeii, for instance, a phoenix and two peacocks are painted outside a bar (I.11.10–11), with the slogan “The phoenix is happy and you will be too” (Phoenix felix et tu: CIL IV 9850). Mosaics also acted as a visual guide to the function of a commercial space. At Ostia, a mosaic depicting marine scenes found in conjunction with a marble basin and counter indicates the presence of a fishmonger (IV.V.1), while a series of mosaics outside offices in the Piazzale delle Corporazioni (II.VII.4) reveals the business of the trade groups based there. Barbers displayed scissors and mirrors outside their premises to advertise their presence (Lucian Ind. 29), perhaps not unlike the striped barber’s pole still in use today.

The use of sales cries was another simple means of advertising products. In Greek comedy, market sellers tend to have a big physical presence and loud voices (e.g. Ar. Ach. 33–37; Eq. 180–181),70 while in the Roman period the use of the term circulator to refer to both street traders and entertainers suggests that both provided an element of entertainment to their audience. Sellers apparently had distinctive sales cries to attract customers and mark themselves out from the competition. Perhaps most famously, Seneca (Ep. 56.2) tells of the disturbance created by the hawkers who frequented the bathhouse below his apartment in 1st-century ce Rome, describing the noise of the “pastry-cooks with their varied cries, the sausage dealer and the confectioner and all the vendors of food from the cookshops selling their wares, each with his own distinctive intonation.” Similarly, Martial (1.41.5–10) talks about the noise of the “vendor of boiled chickpeas to the idle crowd . . . the salt-fishmongers’ worthless slaves and the bawling cook who hawks smoking sausages round stuffy bistros,” while Cicero (Div. 2.40.84) reports how a fig seller’s shout of cauneas (Caunean dried figs) at Brundisium was heard by soldiers embarking in ships to Parthia as cave ne eas (“beware going”) and interpreted as a bad omen.71

Visual representations of stallholders and hawkers also indicate that they were trying to attract the attention of passersby. Sellers are typically shown touching their produce with one hand, as though inviting others to do the same, while often the other hand is raised to indicate that the seller is addressing the crowd. The Ostian vegetable seller is even shown making what Apuleius (Met. 2.21) describes as a typical oratorical gesture, with the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand raised [Illustration 2]; with this in mind, it is worth noting the elite habit of likening poor oratory to the cries of a hawker.72 The statuettes of hawkers from Pompeii are also shown shouting, with their mouths open and their hands to their throats [Illustration 5]. Market traders, street sellers, and ambulant hawkers were no doubt a very colourful and noisy addition to the ancient urban landscape, and are indicative of the vibrancy of the ancient retail trade.

Discussion of the Literature

While there has been an ongoing debate in studies of the ancient economy regarding the role of the market, economic models now focus increasingly on consumption, and there is a general consensus that most people in the ancient world engaged with the market to some degree, with practically everybody purchasing some food items, raw materials, and consumer goods from retailers.73 The commercial importance of the agora and forum in urban centres has long been recognised, but despite its importance to the ancient economy, the ancient retail trade as a whole has historically been understudied.74 There are, for instance, no entries on retail, shops, shopping, or distribution in the previous four editions of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, and the topic is only now starting to generate the academic interest that it warrants. There are now detailed studies of particular aspects of retail, such as permanent and periodic markets,75 commercial space and permanent shops (particularly from an archaeological perspective76), hawkers,77 and women in retail.78 Holleran’s (2012) book on the retail trade in Rome represents the first more systematic study of the retail trade, but this is deliberately narrow in focus, concentrating on the city of Rome specifically.79 Nicholas Purcell’s (2012) Sather Lectures on buying and selling in the ancient world are broader in scope.80

Archaeological approaches to the study of commercial space are an important area of debate, and Pompeii and Herculaneum are particularly important case studies of urban retail practices. The exact functions of commercial units are not always immediately obvious from the archaeological evidence, and function is often assigned on the basis of form.81 How valid is it to assume a retail function for a unit in the absence of other evidence? Furthermore, does retail need a designated space in which to take place? How much commercial activity might we be missing by focussing too much on architecturally definable space? Moreover, how much can the level of investment in commercial space tell us about the development of the retail trade, and what are the implications of this for our understanding of the economy on a local level and more broadly?82 Other areas of research that could be explored further include the role of advertising and marketing, the status of retailers and their place within the wider economy and society,83 and the links between wholesale trade and retail, as well as the extent of the separation of production and retail.


  • Baratto, Chiara. “Le tabernae nei fora delle città romane tra l’età repubblicana e il periodo imperiale.” Rivista di Archeologia 27 (2003): 67–92.
  • Bettalli, Marco. “Case, botteghe, ergasteria: Note sui luoghi di produzione e di vendita nell’Atene Classica.” Opus 4 (1985): 29–42.
  • DeLaine, Janet. “The Commercial Landscape of Ostia.” In Roman Working Lives and Urban Living. Edited by Ardle MacMahon and J. Price, 29–47. Oxford: Oxbow, 2005.
  • De Ligt, Luuk. Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire: Economic and Social Aspects. Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1993.
  • De Ligt, Luuk, and Pieter W. De Neeve. “Ancient Periodic Markets and Fairs.” Athenaeum 66 (1988): 391–416.
  • De Ruyt, Claire. Macellum: Marché alimentaire des romains. Louvan-le-Neuve: Institut Supérieur d’archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art, Collège Erasme, 1983.
  • Flohr, Miko. “Costruire tabernae – l’investimento commerciale nella città dell’Italia Romana.” Forma Urbis 19.9 (2014): 42–44.
  • Frayn, Joan M. Markets and Fairs in Roman Italy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
  • Gassner, Verena. Die Kaufläden in Pompeii. Vienna: VWGÖ, 1986.
  • Holleran, Claire. Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and Early Principate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Holleran, Claire. “Representations of Food Hawkers in Ancient Rome.” In Food Hawkers: Selling in the Street from Antiquity to the Present. Edited by Melissa Calaresu and Danielle van den Heuvel, 19–42. London: Routledge, 2016.
  • Karvonis, Pavlos. “Le vocabulaire des installations commerciales en Grèce aux époques classique et hellénistique.” In Vocabulaire et expression de l’économie dans le monde antique. Edited by Jean Andreau and Véronique Chankowski, 35–50. Bordeaux: Ausonius, 2007.
  • Karvonis, Pavlos. “Typologie et évolution des installations commerciales dans les villes grecques du IVe siècle av. J-C et de l’époque hellénistique.” Revue des Études Anciennes 110.1 (2008): 57–81.
  • Lavan, Luke. “From polis to emporion? Retail and Regulation in the Late Antique City.” In Trade and Markets in Byzantium. Edited by Cécile Morrisson, 329–372. Washington, DC: Dumbartan Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2012.
  • Lo Cascio, Elio, ed. Mercati permanenti e mercati periodici nel mondo romano. Bari: Edipuglia, 2000.
  • Magaldi, Emilio. “Il commercio ambulante a Pompeii.” Atti dell’Accademia Pontaniana 60 (1930): 61–88.
  • Monteix, Nicolas. Les lieux de métier: Boutiques et ateliers d’Herculanum. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2011.
  • Putzeys, Toon, and Luke Lavan. “Commercial Space in Late Antiquity.” In Objects in Context, Objects in Use: Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity. Edited by Luke Lavan, Ellen Swift, and Toon Putzeys, 81–109. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007.
  • Rotroff, Susan I. “Commerce and Crafts around the Athenian Agora.” In The Athenian Agora: New Perspectives on an Ancient Site. Edited by John McK. Camp II and Craig A. Mauzy, 39–46. Mainz am Rhein: American School of Classical Studies at Athens and Verlag Phillip von Zabern, 2009.
  • Tran, Nicolas. Dominus tabernae: Le statut de travail des artisans et des commerçants de l’occident romain (Ier siècle av.J.-C.- III siècle ap. J.C. Bibliothèque des Ecoles Françaises d’Athènes et de Rome 360. Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 2013.
  • Wycherley, R. E. Literary and Epigraphical Testimonia: The Athenian Agora V3. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1957. See especially 185–206.


  • 1. Edward M. Harris, “Workshop, Marketplace, and Household: The Nature of Technical Specialization in Classical Athens and its Influence on Economy and Society,” in Money, Labour, and Land: Approaches to the Economies of Ancient Greece, ed. Paul Cartledge, Edward Cohen, and Lin Foxhall (London: Routledge, 2002), 75–77, see especially 67–99.

  • 2. See, e.g., Ar. Pax 1197–1264; Ach. 867–958; Theophr. Char. 17.6; Sen. Ben. 6.17.1; Ep. 42.8; Apul. Met. 1.24; and Ath. Deip. 6.224f–225a.

  • 3. For more on retail and dishonesty, see Claire Holleran, Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and Early Principate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 5–6.

  • 4. See also Theophr. Char. 8.13; Isoc. VII (Areopagiticus) 15; Dem. 25 (Aristogeiton, I), 52; and Plut. Tim. 14.2.

  • 5. See Sitta Von Reden, Exchange in Ancient Greece (London: Duckworth, 1995), 107; also 106–111 for the importance of interaction in the agora more broadly.

  • 6. Luke Lavan, “From polis to emporion? Retail and Regulation in the Late Antique City,” in Trade and Markets in Byzantium, ed. Claire Morrisson (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2012), 359–361, see especially 329–372.

  • 7. For Athens, see Roger Brock, “The Labour of Women in Classical Athens,” Classical Quarterly 44.2 (1994): 336–346. For Rome, see Claire Holleran, “Women and Retail in Roman Italy,” in Women and the Roman City in the Latin West, ed. Emily Hemelrijk and Greg Woolf (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013), 313–330.

  • 8. Tables: Pl. Ap. 17c; Hp. Mi. 368b; Theophr. Char. 5.7; and Aristid. Or. 46.134. Booths: Dem. 18 (De Cor.) 169; Harp. s.v. gerra; skenites. For literary references to the agora as a marketplace, see R. E. Wycherley, Literary and Epigraphical Testimonia: The Athenian Agora V3 (Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1957), 185–206; also John Wilkins, The Boastful Chef: The Discourse of Food in Ancient Greek Comedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 164–175.

  • 9. Wycherley, Literary, 191.

  • 10. See also Wilkins, Boastful Chef, 165.

  • 11. On commercial structures in the vicinity of the agora, see Rodney S. Young, “An Industrial District of Athens,” Hesperia 20.3 (1951): 135–288; and Susan I. Rotroff, “Commerce and Crafts around the Athenian Agora,” in The Athenian Agora: New Perspectives on an Ancient Site, eds. John McK. Camp II and C. A. Mauzy (Mainz am Rhein: American School of Classical Studies at Athens and Verlag Phillip von Zabern, 2009), 39–46.

  • 12. On these stoai, see John McK. Camp II, The Athenian Agora (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986), 66–72, 100–105, 122–126.

  • 13. Camp, Athenian Agora, 172–175; and Rotroff, “Commerce and Crafts,” 39.

  • 14. Wycherley, Literary, 190; and Camp, Athenian Agora, 175–179.

  • 15. Camp, Athenian Agora, 184.

  • 16. On commercial units in the forum, see Chiara Baratto, “Le tabernae nei fora delle città romane tra l’età repubblicana e il periodo imperiale,” Rivista di archeologia 27 (2003): 67–92, at 68.

  • 17. Holleran, Shopping, 53, 55–57; Emanuele Papi, “La turba inpia: Artigiani e commercianti del Foro Romano e dintorni (I sec. a.C. – 64 d.C.),”Journal of Roman Archaeology 15 (2002): 45–62.

  • 18. Although see Baratto, “Le tabernae,” 72, for commercial units opening onto side streets rather than fora in the imperial period.

  • 19. On this frieze, see Salvatore C. Nappo, “Fregio dipinto dal praedium di Giulia Felice con rappresentazione del foro di Pompei,” Rivista di Studi Pompeiani 3 (1989): 79–96; and now Riccardo Olivito, Il foro nell’atrio: Immagini di architetture, scene di vita e di mercato nel fregio dai Praedia di Julia Felix (Pompeii, II. 4. 3) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2013).

  • 20. For a fuller description, see Natalie Kampen, Image and Status: Roman Working Women in Ostia (Berlin: Mann, 1981), 59–64. See also the fruit sellers from Arlon (Musée Archéologique Luxembourgeois, Inv. No. 49, Pilier du Cultivateur).

  • 21. Joan Liversidge, Everyday Life in the Roman Empire (London: Batsford, 1976), 102.

  • 22. See also Paus. 10.32.14 for temporary booths made of reeds; also Pavlos Karvonis, “Typologie et évolution des installations commerciales dans les villes grecques du IVe siècle av. J-C et de l’époque hellénistique,” Revue des Etudes Anciennes 110.1 (2008): 57–81, at 58–61 on temporary commercial installations in Classical and Hellenistic Greece.

  • 23. Donald Atkinson, Report on the Excavations at Wroxeter (the Roman City of Viroconium) in the County of Salop, 1923–27 (London: Oxford University Press, 1942), 137–130.

  • 24. Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 332.

  • 25. Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 332–335.

  • 26. For a study of agoranomoi in Roman Palestine, see Daniel Sperber, The City in Roman Palestine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 32–47.

  • 27. On OGI 484, see A. D. Macro, “Imperial Provisions for Pergamum: OGIS 484,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 17 (1976): 169–179. For price fixing in Roman Palestine in the later 3rd century, see Sperber, The City, 34–35.

  • 28. Richard Alston, “Trade and the City in Roman Egypt,” in Trade, Traders, and the Ancient City, ed. Helen Parkins and Christopher J. Smith (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 174, see especially 168–202.

  • 29. See also Luuk De Ligt, Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire: Economic and Social Aspects (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1993), 112.

  • 30. De Ligt, Fairs and Markets, 119.

  • 31. De Ligt, Fairs and Markets, 51–52. For market frequency in Roman Palestine, see Sperber, The City, 27.

  • 32. See also Ramsay MacMullen, “Market-days in the Roman Empire,” Phoenix 24 (1970): 233–241, at 339–341.

  • 33. Holleran, Shopping, 185–189.

  • 34. The archives of Cacilius Jucundus and the Murecine archive of the Sulpicii indicate this connection in 1st-century CE Campania; Jean Andreau, “Les marchés hebdomodaires du Latium et de Campanie au Ier siècle ap. J.C.,” In Mercati permanenti e mercati periodici nel mondo romano, ed. Elio Lo Cascio (Bari: Edipuglia, 2000), 69–70. See also De Ligt, Fairs and Markets, 112, 114–115, see especially 69–93.

  • 35. Dem. 23 (Against Aristocrates) 39. In Roman Italy: Columella Rust. 1.8.6; 11.1.23. For markets on private estates, Plin. Ep. 5.4; 5.13; Suet. Cl. 12.2. Also MacMullen, “Market-Days,” 333–334; and De Ligt, Fairs and Markets, 155–198.

  • 36. Luuk De Ligt, and Pieter W. De Neeve, “Ancient Periodic Markets and Fairs,” Athenaeum 66 (1988): 391–416.

  • 37. The earliest literary references are in Plautus (Am. 1012; Aul. 264; 373; 376; Ps. 169; Rud. 979), but Livy (27.11.16) refers to the destruction of an earlier macellum in 210 BCE (also referred to earlier as a forum Piscatorium, Livy 26.27). For the 179 BCE construction, see Var. ap. Festus, 125 L; Livy 40.51 (again, forum Piscatorium).

  • 38. For more detail on these macella, as well as the Republican macella, see Holleran, Shopping, 162–167.

  • 39. For a catalogue of almost eighty macella in the Roman world, see Claire De Ruyt, Macellum: Marché alimentaire des romains (Louvan-le-Neuve: Institut Supérieur d’archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art, Collège Erasme, 1983); for some geographical variations in architecture, see Claire De Ruyt, “Exigences fonctionelles et variété des interprétations dans l’architecture des macella du monde romain,” in Mercati permanenti e mercati periodici nel mondo romano, ed. Elio Lo Cascio (Bari: Edipuglia, 2000), 177–186; also Joan M. Frayn, Markets and Fairs in Roman Italy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 101–116; and Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 342.

  • 40. The Macellum Liviae in Rome, for example, was restored in the 4th century (CIL VI 1178). See Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 338 and Appendix 2, 362–363.

  • 41. For more details of goods sold, see Holleran, Shopping, 171–181; and De Ruyt, macella, 341–350.

  • 42. For forum Piscatorium, see n. 37. For the macellum as a place of slaughter in late antiquity, see Arn. Adv. Nat. 41; Donat. on Terence Eunuch II. 2. 26. 2; Isid. Etym. 15. 2. 44; and Holleran, Shopping, 174.

  • 43. For images, see Jean Andreau, Les affaires de Monsieur Jucundus (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1974), 76, figs. 11 and 12. For bidding in the macellum, see also Ambrose, De Helia 24.

  • 44. Hor. Sat. 2.4.76–7; Sen. Ep. 95.42; Plin. HN 9.67; Suet. Tib. 34.1; Juv. 4.15; Tert. De Pallio 5.6; and Macrob. Sat. 3.16.9.

  • 45. See, for example, commercial space in the immediate vicinity of the Athenian agora (Rotroff, Commerce) and in fora in the Roman period (Baratto, “Le tabernae”), or clustered along the main streets and public buildings at Pompeii ( Verena GassnerDie Kaufläden in Pompeii [Vienna: VWGO, 1986], 84) or Ostia (Janet DeLaine, “The Commercial Landscape of Ostia,” in Roman Working Lives and Urban Living, ed. A. MacMahon and J. Price [Oxford: Oxbow, 2005], 33–35, see especially 29–47).

  • 46. Baratto, Le tabernae; Miko Flohr, “Costruire tabernae: L’investimento commerciale nella città dell’Italia Romana,” Forma Urbis 19.9 (2014): 42–44. For the construction of commercial facilities in cities of Roman Egypt, see Alston, Trade, 184–185, 198.

  • 47. Karvonis, “Typologie”, 61–68; Barotto, “Le tabernae”; and Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 343–359.

  • 48. In Classical Athens, see Marco Bettalli, “Case, botteghe, ergasteria: Note sui luoghi di produzione e di vendita nell’Atene Classica,” Opus 4 (1985): 29–42, at 34. For tabernae as rental units, see Var. Ling. 5.15; Cic. Att. 14.9.1; Pompon. Dig.; Ulp. Dig.

  • 49. In general, Lavan, “From polis to emporion,” 349; also Jennifer A. Baird, “Shopping, Eating, and Drinking at Dura-Europos: Reconstructing Contexts,” In Objects in Context, Objects in Use: Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity, eds. Luke Lavan, Ellen Swift, and Toon Putzeys (Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007), 421–422, see especially 413–437; although see Karvonis, “Typologie,” 63 for doorways wider than 2.5 m at Delos.

  • 50. See also Livy’s description of Tusculum (6.25.9).

  • 51. Sperber, The City, 12.

  • 52. Corp. Gloss. Lat. III 388. 33; and Holleran, Shopping, 116–117.

  • 53. See also Pavlos Karvonis, “Le vocabulaire des installations commerciales en Grèce aux Époques Classique et Hellénistique,” In Vocabulaire et expression de l’économie dans le monde antique, ed. Jean Andreau and Véronique Chankowski (Bordeaux: Ausonius, 2007), 41–43.

  • 54. Holleran, Shopping, 99–158. For the archaeological evidence in particular, see Baratto, “Le tabernae,” 70, 72–74.

  • 55. For Pompeii, see Steven J. R. Ellis, “The Distribution of Bars at Pompeii: Archaeological, Spatial, and Viewshed Analyses,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 17 (2004): 371–384. For Ostia, see Gustav Hermansen, Ostia (Edmonton: University of Alberta, 1981), 125–183.

  • 56. In general, see Holleran, Shopping, 194–231.

  • 57. Holleran, Shopping, 198–200. Ambulant or itinerant traders: e.g. Dio Chrys. Or. 8.9; 35.4; 35.15; John Chrys. PG 52.843; 58.538; 63.850. Following the army: Xen. Cyr.; Lucian. Hist. Conscr. 16. Ath. Deip. 10.431d. Associated with the marketplace: Pl. Plt. 290a; Rep. 371d; Philo, The Special Laws, 4.193.

  • 58. For further discussion of Latin terminology, with full references, see Holleran, Shopping, 197–198.

  • 59. For more details, see Holleran, Shopping, 207, 212.

  • 60. Wilhelmina F. Jashemski, The Gardens of Pompeii (New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas Bros, 1979), 274–275.

  • 61. Fresh fruit and vegetables (Lucil. 5.221–2; Cic. Div. 2.40.84; Hor. Sat.1.6.111–14; Petron. Sat. 6–7), fish (Plaut. Capt. 813–816), milk (Calp. Ecl. 4.25–26), pulses and grain (Hor. Sat.1.6.111–14; Petron. Sat. 14), sausages (Ar. Eq.; Sen. Ep. 56.2; Mart. 1.41.9–10), bread (Cic. Pis. 67.10; Ulp. Dig., and dishes made with chickpeas (Mart. 1.41.6). See also Claire Holleran, “Representations of Food Hawkers in Ancient Rome,” in Food Hawkers: Selling in the Street from Antiquity to the Present, eds. Melissa Calaresu and Danielle van den Heuvel (London: Routledge, 2016).

  • 62. Holleran, Shopping, 208–211.

  • 63. CIL IV 1096; 1096a–b; 1097; 1097a–b; 1115. See also CIL IV 677; 1768–69; 2996.

  • 64. Schol. Aischines, 1 (Timarchos), 65; Schol. Euripides, Medea 68; see also Poll. Onom. 9. 47–48; 10.18–19 on this phenomenon more generally. Also s Karvonis, “Le vocabulaire,” 38–40.

  • 65. Olives (Poll. Onom. 9. 47; Plut. De Tranq. Anim. 10.470f; Schol. Od. 8.260); walnuts, myrtle berries and fruits (Theophr. Char. 11.4); fish (Ar. Eq. 1247; Vesp. 788–791; Ran. 1068; Ath. Deip. 7.287e; 8.342c); flour (Ar. Eccl. 686; Plut. De Tranq. Anim. 10.470f; Scol. Aristophanes Plutus, 1037); garlic and onions (Poll. Onom. 9.47–48; Schol. Od. 8.260); vegetables (Ar. Lys. 557–558; Ath. Deip. 8.338e; 14.640b); cheese (Lys. 23.6; Poll. Onom.10.19); wine (Isaios 6 (Philoktemon), 20; Poll. Onom. 7.192–93; 9.47; 10.75); clothing (Plut. De Tranq. Anim. 10.470f; Poll. Onom. 7.78); reins (Xen. Mem. 4.2.1; 8); haberdashery (Poll. Onom. 9.47); perfume (Ar. Eq. 1375–1376; Dem. 34 (Phorm.) 13; Teles 2; Poll. Onom. 9.47; Schol. Euripides, Medea, 68); wreaths (Ar. Eccl. 302; Thesm. 448); pots (Ar. Lys. 557; Poll. 9. 47); lamps (Schol. Aristophanes, Peace 692); and books (Pl. Ap. 26d–e; Poll. Onom. 9.47).

  • 66. Harp. s.v. kukloi; Poll. Onom. 7.11; 10.18–19; Ael. VH 2.1; and Schol. Aristophanes, Knights, 137.

  • 67. Poll. Onom.10.18; Theophr. Char. 2.9; 22.10.

  • 68. For more details of clustering in Rome, see Holleran, Shopping, 51–60; Morel, J-P. “Le topographie de l’artisanat et du commerce dans la Rome antique,” in L’Urbs: Espace urbain et histoire Ier siècle avant J-C—IIIe siècle après J-C. (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1987), 127–155. For clustering in Roman towns more generally, see Penelope Goodman, ‘‘Working together: clusters of artisans in the Roman city”, in Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World, ed. Miko Flohr and Andrew Wilson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 301–333.

  • 69. For a detailed discussion of the paintings of felt production and sale, see John R. Clarke, Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 105–112. Also Holleran, Shopping, 122–123. For the vessels at Herculaneum, see Mario Pagano, “Semo Sancus in una insegna di bottega a Ercolano,” Cronache Ercolanesi 18 (1988): 209–214, who argues that this was a sign for a bar.

  • 70. Wilkins, Boastful Chef, 169, 174.

  • 71. See also Calp. Ecl. 4.25–26 for the shouts of a milk hawker.

  • 72. Petron. Sat. 68.6–7; Mart. 10.3.2; Plin. Ep.; Quint. Inst. 2.4.15; 10.1.8; and SHA, Comm. 2.8.

  • 73. On consumption and consumerism in the Roman world, see Kevin Greene, “Learning to Consume: Consumption and Consumerism in the Roman Empire,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 21.1 (2008): 64–82.

  • 74. On the agora, for example, see Young, “An Industrial District”; Wycherley, Literary; Rotroff, “Commerce and Crafts”. Earlier studies to include retail specifically include Emilio Magaldi, “Il commercio ambulante a Pompei,” Atti dell’Accademia Pontaniana 60 (1930): 61–88; Helen Jefferson Loane, Industry and Commerce of the City of Rome (50 bc–200 ad) (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1938), 113–153; and R. J. Hopper, Trade and Industry in Classical Greece (London: Thames and Hudson, 1979), 61–70.

  • 75. E.g. De Ruyt, macellum; De Ligt and De Neeve, “Ancient periodic markets”; De Ligt, Fairs and Markets; Frayn, Markets and Fairs; Lo Cascio, Mercati permanenti; see also the special edition of Food and History 2007.

  • 76. E.g. Bettalli, “Case, botteghe, ergasteria”; Gassner, Die Kaufläden in Pompeii; Baratto, “Le tabernae”; Karvonis, “Typologie”; DeLaine, The commercial landscape of Ostia; Toon Putzeys and Luke Lavan, “Commercial Space in Late Antiquity,” in Objects in Context, Objects in Use: Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity, eds. Luke Lavan, Ellen Swift, and Toon Putzeys (Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007), 81–109; Nicolas Monteix, Les lieux de métier: Boutiques et ateliers d’Herculanum (Rome: école Française de Rome, 2011); and Lavan, From polis to emporion.

  • 77. Holleran, “Representations of food hawkers.”

  • 78. Holleran, “Women and Retail”. Also Brock, “The Labour of Women =.”

  • 79. Holleran, Shopping.

  • 80. Preliminary findings can be found in Nicholas Purcell, “‘Quod enim alterius fuit, id ut fiat meum, necesse est aliquid intercedere’ [Varro]: The Anthropology of Buying and Selling in Ancient Greece and Rome; An Introductory Sketch,” in Anthropologie de lantiquité: Anciens objets, nouvelles approches, eds. Pascal Payen and Évelyne Scheid-Tissinier (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), 81–98.

  • 81. For the lack of conclusive finds, see e.g. Penelope M. Allison, Pompeian Households: An Analysis of Material Culture (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2004), esp. 112–113, 174; Anthea Harris, “Shops, Retailing and the Local Economy in the Early Byzantine World: The Example of Sardis,” in Secular Buildings and the Archaeology of Everyday Life in the Byzantine Empire, ed. Ken R. Dark (Oxford: Oxbow, 2004), 82–122. For the archaeological identification of commercial space, see now Claire Holleran, “Finding commerce: the taberna and the archaeological identification of Roman commercial space’, Papers of the British School at Rome 85 (2017).

  • 82. Flohr, Costruire tabernae. See also Emanuel Mayer, The Ancient Middle Classes: Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE–CE 250 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), who argues that the spread of the taberna in Roman urban centres was indicative of the development of a Roman middle class that was decidedly commercial in character, although his arguments have not met with universal acceptance.

  • 83. Although see now Tran’s excellent study, Nicolas Tran, Dominus tabernae: Le statut de travail des artisans et des commerçants de l’occident romain (Ier siècle av.J.-C.–III siècle ap. J. C. (Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises d’Athènes et de Rome 360; Rome: École Française de Rome, 2013).