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The Indo-Roman Pepper Trade and the Muziris Papyrus$
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Federico De Romanis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198842347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198842347.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 September 2021

Maris Rubri Vectigal

Maris Rubri Vectigal

(p.277) 12 Maris Rubri Vectigal
The Indo-Roman Pepper Trade and the Muziris Papyrus

Federico De Romanis

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the Red Sea tax. The double (import to and export from Egypt) customs duties on Indian commodities referred to by Strabo and the ‘Red Sea tax’ (maris Rubri vectigal) mentioned by Pliny were one and the same. The Muziris papyrus texts provide crucial details regarding how and when these customs duties were assessed and paid. Theoretically, the customs duties on Indian commodities could be paid either in money or in kind, as the taxpayer wished. However, while some evidence suggests that payments in kind were sometimes chosen in Late Antiquity, the texts of the Muziris papyrus show that the merchant of the Hermapollon paid his dues in money, and that in the mid-second century AD, payment in money was the preferred option.

Keywords:   Red Sea tax, customs duties, Indian commodities, Muziris papyrus, payments in kind, payment in money

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