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Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World$
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Andrew Wilson and Alan Bowman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790662

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198790662.001.0001

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The Indispensable Commodity

The Indispensable Commodity

Notes on the Economy of Wood in the Roman Mediterranean

(p.211) 7 The Indispensable Commodity
Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World

William V. Harris

Oxford University Press

A model for the timber trade in the Roman Empire must distinguish between fuel wood (often in the form of charcoal) and timber used for building and making things. It must also cohere with whatever idea we form about Roman-era deforestation. The high level of demand for fuel wood is clear from the high levels of iron, silver, lead, copper and glass production reached in the Roman world, especially from the first to third centuries AD. These resources were renewable, but only because of rising levels of technical knowledge, woodland management and commercial complexity. As for timber, demand for specific types of wood created a large volume of medium- and long-distance trade (though only in rare instances, apparently, between east and west). Alert officials seem to have often given thought to timber supply of both kinds.

Keywords:   Roman trade, Roman economy, timber, firewood, fuel economy, wood trade

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