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Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World$
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Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, and Arjan Zuiderhoek

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728924.001.0001

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Centurions, Quarries, and the Emperor

Centurions, Quarries, and the Emperor

(p.289) 16 Centurions, Quarries, and the Emperor
Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World

Alfred M. Hirt

Oxford University Press

The main focus of this chapter is on the role of the emperor in the quarrying industry and his impact on market demand for coloured marble. Unique epigraphic evidence of intervention by Emperor Hadrian in c.AD 136 in ongoing quarrying operations at specific sites is discussed. The underlying rationale for this intervention may have arisen from the unsatisfactory progress of Hadrian’s construction projects in the city of Rome and reflect his manifest proclivity for administrative issues throughout the empire. Not all quarries supplying imperial building projects in Rome were necessarily under imperial oversight, and some imperial quarries possibly generated revenue for the emperor/state. We do not know whether Hadrian’s ‘directive’ affected the organization of extraction procedures at other quarries. Employing contractors was the default setting of decision makers within the imperial administration. Most imperial quarry operations were possibly contracted out in their entirety to private individuals or ‘companies’.

Keywords:   Roman emperors, stone quarries, marble trade, Hadrian, Roman administration

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