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Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World$
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Andrew Wilson and Miko Flohr

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748489

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748489.001.0001

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Driving Forces for Specialization: Market, Location Factors, Productivity Improvements

Driving Forces for Specialization: Market, Location Factors, Productivity Improvements

Chapter:
(p.115) 5 Driving Forces for Specialization: Market, Location Factors, Productivity Improvements
Source:
Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World
Author(s):

Kai Ruffing

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748489.003.0006

This chapter analyses the issue of specialization among craftsmen and traders within and between cities. Focusing particularly on epigraphic and documentary evidence from Egypt and Asia Minor, it investigates three incentives for specialization: first, the intense competition on the market, which drove craftsmen to explore economic niches that would give them a decent customer base; second, the possibility to increase the quality and quantity of their output by focusing on a smaller subset of services or products, and, third, location factors—the specific local circumstances, such as the availability of certain resources, that caused certain places to have a high concentration of particular crafts. It is argued that the market—and particularly consumer demand—was the main driving force for specialization: the evidence illustrates Adam Smith’s observation that the extent to which specialization took place depended on the size of the market.

Keywords:   Roman craftsmen, Roman traders, Roman economy, specialization, economic niche, Roman Egypt, Roman Asia Minor

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