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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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Spatial Concentration and Dispersal of Roman Textile Crafts

Spatial Concentration and Dispersal of Roman Textile Crafts

(p.334) 14 Spatial Concentration and Dispersal of Roman Textile Crafts
Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World

Kerstin Droß-Krüpe

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the spatial clustering of textile crafts. It starts from the papyrological evidence from Roman Egypt. Tax and property registers show how, in Roman Egypt, textile crafts such as dyeing and fulling were not clustered, but appear to have been more or less equally distributed over the urban quarters. Using modern cluster theory, the chapter argues that this also makes sense, as most textiles are convenience goods, rather than shopping goods, which means that clustering would actually be disadvantageous for entrepreneurs. This leads to a rethinking of the craft-related toponyms known from textual sources, which need to be approached with caution, and to a comparison with medieval Europe, where local governments and guilds, much more than in Roman cities, played an active role in establishing craft clusters.

Keywords:   Roman craftsmen, Roman traders, Roman economy, textile production, clustering, Roman Egypt

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