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The Indo-Roman pepper trade and the Muziris papyrus - Federico De Romanis

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The Indo-Roman pepper trade and the Muziris papyrus
Federico De Romanis
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

This volume presents a systematic and fresh interpretation of a mid-second-century AD papyrus - the so-called Muziris papyrus - which preserves on its two sides fragments of a unique pair of documents: on one side, a loan agreement to finance a commercial enterprise to South India and, on the other, an assessment of the fiscal value of a South Indian cargo imported on a ship named the Hermapollon. The two texts, whose informative potential has long beenunderexploited, clarify several aspects of the early Roman Empire's trade with South India, including transport logistics, financial and legal elements in the loan agreement funding the commercial enterprise, the trade goods included in the South Indian cargo, and the technicalities of calculating and collectingRoman customs duties on the Indian imports. This study also considers imperial fiscal policy as it related to the South Indian trade, the overall evolution of Rome's trade relations with South India, the structure and organization of South Indian trade stakeholders, and the role played by private tax-collectors. The in-depth analysis sheds new light on this important sector of the Roman economy during the first two centuries AD in two innovative ways: through a balanced consideration of SouthIndian sources and data, and by drawing comparisons with the pepper trade from late antiquity, the Middle Ages, and early modernity, resulting in a longue dure perspective on the western trade in South Indian pepper.

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Federico De Romanis is Associate Professor in Roman History at the Universit di Roma "Tor Vergata" in Rome, Italy. He received his doctorate in historical sciences from the Universit della Repubblica di S. Marino in 1992 and has taught at the Universit di Catania and at the Universit della Tuscia, as well as holding fellowships at the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici in Naples (1987-8) and at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in
America, Columbia University (2012-3). His previous publications include Cassia, cinnamomo, ossidiana: Uomini e merci tra Oceano Indiano e Mediterraneo (L'Erma Di Bretschneider, 1996).

The volume is a monumental work in various respects: exegetical care, the quantity and multiplicity of the sources and data collected; the breadth of the historical span ranging from the Roman period, the second century of the Muziris papyrus, and earlier and later times up to the pre-modern era. Federico De Romanis offers much more than the title promises by reconstructing a large multidisciplinary mosaic of interest to the ancient historian, the papyrologist, the
ancient geographer, the scholar of ancient economies, and the Indianist.

M. Lauretta Moioli, Universit degli Studi di Milano, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Keyword Index
Pepper (Spice) industry - History - To 1500.|India - Commerce - Rome.|Rome - Commerce - India.
Country of Publication
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