Roman bazaar or market economy? Explaining tableware distributions through computational modelling

Tom Brughmans, Jeroen Poblome
  • Antiquity, April 2016, Antiquity Publications
  • DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2016.35

What is it about?

Did the Roman empire have a market economy, or an economy with markets? We fed a lot of pottery from a lot of Roman places to our computers and pressed the right buttons so that our machines started calculating, looking for models and patterns. That is what computers are good at, after all. From the patterns, we understood that Roman markets were quite well integrated; sellers and buyers were finding each other quite easily. To be honest, we were even amazed at the level of integration our computers suggested, which is good news for people wanting to earn a sestertius from trade in antiquity.

Why is it important?

In a globalised economy, it is good to know there used to be alternative ways of earning a living in the past, which sustained quality of life for a lot of people.


Prof. Jeroen Poblome
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Big data in archaeology works!

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The following have contributed to this page: Prof. Jeroen Poblome and Dr Tom Brughmans