Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY (classics.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 May 2018

prices

Summary and Keywords

While our sources mention numerous prices of a wide range of commodities, the question remains to what extent these prices offer insight into the ancient economy. Despite the wealth of data, reliable prices of everyday goods under normal market conditions are rare. The extent to which they can be used to analyze such topics as market integration, living standards, market stability, and inflation is limited. Only regarding Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt do we possess sufficient market prices (rather than imposed prices or valuations) to conduct meaningful analyses. For most of the rest of the empire, the prices—in particular those of everyday goods—are generally too uncertain, too sparse, and too diverse to form a solid basis for economic analysis. It is a valid question, moreover, to what extent prices in the ancient world reflect the interplay of supply and demand according to modern economic theory. Nevertheless, ancient writers depict price levels as depending on the interplay of supply and demand, and market transactions, as narrated in our sources, emphasizing competition and bargaining, make clear that price formation was largely determined by economic forces. Hence, prices fluctuated over time and differed in various places. The authorities tried to keep prices of staple foods low by influencing market conditions, but direct price fixing was rare.

Keywords: Greece, Rome, price, market, food supply, Delos, Egypt

Prices and Economic Theory

The sources on classical antiquity contain numerous prices on a wide range of commodities, next to wages, costs of services, and transactions. According to neo-classical economic thought, prices and costs are determined by the interplay of supply and demand, and—on a different level—by the balance of people and resources. Ideally, the hundreds of prices mentioned in our sources would offer insight into the main elements of economic history: a comparison of price developments in various places would reveal the extent of market integration; the ratio between prices and wages could enlighten us about living standards of various segments of society; the extent of price stability would indicate the performance of the ancient economy; price changes over time would signify the extent of inflation. However, two problems arise. First, in his classic study, Karl Polanyi suggested that prices in pre-capitalist societies were determined by social conventions.1 Transactions were embedded in social relations and hierarchies, and hence goods and services were exchanged either in forms of reciprocity or redistribution. In that case, prices say nothing about economic structure or performance. While few historians would nowadays fully adhere to Polanyi’s model, the extent to which prices were determined by social forces other than the interplay of supply and demand remains a valid question. Second, it is questionable whether the prices contained in the very disparate sources, ranging from agricultural handbooks to graffiti and from novels to papyri, indeed offer solid ground for economic analysis. In sum, the main questions concerning prices in the ancient world concern the nature of the price material in our sources and the issue of price formation.

Prices and Markets in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

Our best price evidence comes from the papyri (see also papyrology, Greek and papyrology, Latin) and ostraca from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.2 Part of it refers to prices in a commercial context, the acquisition of goods or services at the price stipulated, and derives from a wide range of sources, such as letters between buyers and sellers mentioning an agreed upon price, receipts of payment for delivered goods, and official documents specifying the market prices of goods.3 The papyri and ostraca offer prices on everyday commodities, such as wheat and bread, tunics and blankets, donkeys, and so forth, but also prices of houses (and parts of houses), land, and slaves.4 Apart from market prices, the documents also mention the prices paid by the authorities in state purchases of goods like wheat, fodder, and military clothing. Since the authorities determined these prices, the extent to which they reflect current market prices is uncertain. Another category is valuations, which establish the value of certain goods on behalf of taxation or the conversion of payments in kind and cash. The approximately 100 wheat prices we have for Ptolemaic Egypt, for example, comprise market prices, but also conversion rates. In view of the long period and the economic diversity of Egypt, this forms a useful, but imperfect base for analysis of the grain market.5

Unfortunately, we hardly have any evidence pertaining to Alexandria, due to the wet conditions there, in which no papyri survived. The huge demand for labour, staple foods, and other commodities in Alexandria must have affected the economy of its hinterland. The prices from the rest of Egypt may serve as a basis for the analysis of trade networks within Egypt. The price material from Oxyrhynchus has led to the conclusion that, despite the relatively cheap transport route along the Nile, trade in Egypt operated on the district level—the urban centre and its hinterland—and that the majority of trade contacts were limited to Middle Egypt. It has been claimed, though, that the markets for wheat within Egypt were broadly integrated, as the price structure in different locations was very much similar.6 However, the similarity of price movements within Egypt may be a caused by the fact that the annual variations of the flooding of the Nile affected the harvests in various parts of Egypt equally. That said, short-range integration of the markets of the main commodities in Egypt seems entirely likely, due to the ease of transport and the similarity of market conditions and transaction costs outside of Alexandria.

The Nature of Prices Outside Egypt

The sources on prices outside Egypt are much more limited. We may distinguish literary sources, graffiti, and inscriptions, each with their own drawbacks. Writers of literary texts sooner tend to mention prices if these are exceptional or prove their point. Pliny the Elder, for instance, mentions 200,000 sesterces paid for a pair of twin slaves (Nat. Hist. 7.56), and the same author complains that the 8,000 sesterces paid for a fish served at a banquet would have been sufficient to buy three cooks (Nat. Hist. 9.67). While the price paid for the fish clearly was exorbitant, it is difficult to establish how serious or representative the implied price of the cooks is. Even prices that are given as ordinary are often difficult to judge. For example, Columella (Res Rust. 3.3.8) advises his readers that wine-land costs 1,000 sesterces per iugerum. Real prices of land would differ per region and change over time.7 In short, literary texts more often mention extraordinary goods fetching exceptional prices than normal prices for everyday goods, although the latter do occur.8

Graffiti can be useful as they sometimes indicate current prices of everyday goods and services, such as the prices advertised on the walls of Pompeii for wine.


prices
Click to view larger

Figure 1. Graffiti advertising the prices of wine on the walls of Pompeii. Photo by Dave Hill and Margie Kleerup, Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).

They also offer prices on services, such as the price of prostitutes (see prostitution, secular, female), with 2 asses (i.e., half a sestertius) the most commonly mentioned price in Pompeii. However, some prices seem very low and may be insults rather than actual prices.9 In sum, depending on context, figures given in graffiti may reflect real current prices, but may also represent figures determined by other intentions.10

Inscriptions contain numerous mentions of prices and costs. Three kinds of inscriptions may be emphasized: public notifications of transactions, governmental decrees, and honorific inscriptions. As part of their accountability to the citizens, public officials or temple wardens in the Greek world published accounts of expenditures or income in stone. Such inscriptions often mention prices or costs, such as the lists pertaining to the public sale of the property of condemned Athenian citizens, and metoiks, which give us prices of slaves.11 One particularly valuable corpus of inscriptions contains the annual income and expenditure of the temple of Apollo on Delos, which covers the period of 314–167 bce. The data include rents of houses, interest payments on loans, wages of labourers, etcetera, but also the purchase of goods. The latter do not include everyday commodities, but those used for the maintenance of the temples and for the rituals conducted there. Unfortunately, the expenditures given do not specify quality, volume, size, or weight per unit, making it hard to deduce real prices per commodity unit from the data.12 Governmental decrees often present maximum or fixed prices imposed on the market of certain goods and in certain places. The tariff of Akraiphia (dating late third, early 2nd century bce), for example, gives maximum prices for a long list of sea and freshwater fish for this Greek town.13 The most famous example is, of course, Diocletian’s Price Edict, which will be discussed later. Finally, honorific inscriptions often mention expenditure of benefactors, specifying costs and prices, but most of these pertain to large-scale benefactions, such as buildings, games, and foundations (see euergetism). However, many inscriptions honour benefactors for selling common goods, such as wheat and bread, during shortages at prices below current market prices.14 In sum, while inscriptions mention numerous prices and costs, most do not pertain to everyday goods, nor do they reflect clear market prices.

We may conclude with the observation that, for late-republican and early-imperial Rome, we have less than a dozen prices of wheat or bread that pertain to a commercial context, including general observations on the level of prices. Together these data point to 2–4 sesterces as a “normal” price of wheat per modius. Graffiti in Pompeii imply wheat prices of 3–7,5 sesterces. More prices refer to governmental measures in the context of a shortage or other kind of crisis. Famine prices reflect the potentially extreme price rises, but reveal little about regular price levels.15 A similar situation emerges for the price of wine: in classical Athens, the price of ordinary wine seems to have been around 4–5 drachmas per metretes. However, as nowadays, the price of wine must have varied tremendously. Regarding Rome, writers tend to mention exceptional prices for luxurious goods, such as wine and fish, leaving it hard to establish ordinary price levels for everyday goods.16 In sum, despite the hundreds of prices and costs that can be found in the sources, their selective nature and unclear setting, and often their background in non-commercial contexts, hampers the use of price data to analyze the workings of the ancient economy.

Price Formation

The market prices given in our sources are exchange values expressed in monetary terms (i.e., not in exchange values against other goods). The link between coinage (see coinage, Greek and coinage, Roman) and price formation gives an important role to the monetary policies of the Greek poleis and the Hellenistic and Roman states. The use of precious metals like gold and silver as means of exchange was wide-spread in the Near East and Mediterranean, but the Greeks introduced coins as a very specific form of money with regulated weight and purity, which crucially influenced the determination and expression of price. While goods and services are often given a monetary value, the transactions need not have involved coined money. Coins remained to be used next to other forms of exchange, such as transactions in kind. In the Hellenistic states, transactions were often conducted on the basis of payments in grain and bullion (i.e., unminted precious metal). The scale of coin circulation increased greatly in the Roman period, both in a geographical sense, as the Roman monetary system came to dominate coinage throughout the empire, and in terms of monetization. Moreover, Roman law and financial institutions facilitated transactions involving large sums without the actual transfer of coins.17

The denominations used in the monetary systems of the various places determined prices in the sense that prices had to be expressed in the available monetary units. This also reflects the practical functioning of coinage in commercial transactions. Gold and large silver coins are obviously not suitable to facilitate everyday transactions involving such goods as bread or eggs. Small denominations were necessary to conduct small transactions. The minting by archaic Greek poleis of fractional silver coins that were as small as one-tenth of a gram, although most were between a quarter and one gram, indicates the intention to facilitate daily transactions that involved items of relatively low value.18 This role was soon taken over by bronze coinage. The smallest denominations formed the smallest possible change in price, which limits the extent to which small changes in market value could be expressed in market prices. Hence, adjustments in price levels were sometimes not realized in terms of price, but in terms of volume. In a famous passage in Petronius’ Satyricon (44), one of the characters complains about the price of bread. In the good old days, he says, “buying a loaf of bread for an as, it took more than two to eat it. One sees an ox’s eye bigger now!” The implication is that the loaf of bread became bigger or smaller, depending on current market conditions. The explanation for the practice probably is that with small sums even small denominations did not allow gradual price adjustments. Moreover, small adjustments were less noticeable than price changes, which may have helped to avoid protests when prices rose.19

Prices fluctuated in accordance with changes in supply and demand, as already ancient writers realized. In the 4th century bce, the Athenian Xenophon observed that, if there are too many bronze-makers or blacksmiths, the prices of their products will be low, and also grain and wine will be cheap if they are abundant (Poroi 4.6). Also, Cicero noted that “the market price is never high unless the harvest is a failure. When an abundant crop has been gathered in, a low selling price is the consequence” (2. Verr. 3.227). Similarly, a story set in Roman Palestine about sellers of salt intending to profit from demand in some town explicitly says that the price of salt would have fallen if all of them had arrived at the same time.20 Conversely, the early imperial orator Dio Chrysostomus observed that, when many visitors come to town when the courts are in session, prices of all products will be high (Orations 35.15). Such observations confirm that in general market prices operated according to the same principles as in modern economies.

This is confirmed by descriptions of market transactions, which, unlike the purchases by the state at a price solely determined by state officials, were generally conducted on the principle of negotiation between buyer and seller (see market and fairs, Roman). A few examples should suffice to make this point: one writer, complaining about the arrogance of fishmongers, describes the bargaining between a potential buyer and the sellers of fish on the market (Athenaeus, Deipn. 6.224). Haggling also characterizes the fish market in Apuleius’ novel Metamorphoses (1.24), where the main character brings down the price of the fish that he buys from 25 denarii to 20 denarii (a ridiculously high price, as the context shows). The story makes clear that several sellers of fish were present at the market, suggesting competition between them. In Rome, many commodities were sold at auctions, not only including cattle and land, but also smaller and cheaper items.21 Again, the sources imply free determination of the price on the basis of supply and demand.

The conditions of commerce meant that the price of basic food stuffs, predominantly wheat and barley, differed regionally and were subject to severe fluctuations. The jurist Gaius wrote: “we know how prices of things vary from one city and region to another, especially wine, oil, and grain.”22 An analysis of the grain prices in Egypt shows that the price level was higher in Alexandria than in the rest of Egypt.23 Martial and Apuleius note that the cost of living was much higher in Rome than elsewhere.24 Seasonal changes in the balance between supply and demand resulted in an annual price cycle of grain, with prices reaching a peak just before the new harvest entered the market.25 Due to the inelasticity of demand for basic foodstuffs, the price of grain was very volatile. In the speech of Lysias Against the Graindealers (22.12), it is observed that the price of grain changed several times a day. Since prices were determined by the conditions of the market, they were not always predictable. Pliny the Younger (Epist. 8.2.1), for example, mentions in one of his letters that the merchants who had bought his grape harvest had paid a high price, expecting that the price of wine would rise, but were disappointed in their expectations. In short, the regional price differences and fluctuations show that prices behaved in accordance with modern economic theory.

Regional and temporal price differences were the main driving force for commercial transactions, as is indicated by the fact that traders kept on eye on price developments in various markets (e.g., Demosthenes 56.7–9). Price differences therefore stimulated market exchange, but market integration remained limited. Away from the busy shipping routes, slow communication hampered market integration. Moreover, traders and shippers were driven by profit and risk avoidance, not by abstract concepts like supply and demand. Hence, traders favored destinations that offered predictable conditions and sufficient buying power, and locations where one could expect merchants and investors willing to offer credit, and where one could pick up return cargoes that fetched a good price elsewhere. In other words, uneven transactions costs limited the extent to which price differences were evened out by commercial transactions.26 Even the political and monetary unification of the Roman Empire did not lead to a “global” economy in the sense that markets for goods, labour, or capital were integrated.

Regulation of Food Prices

While the price formation was largely based on market conditions, political and social forces were at play in determining prices of staple foods. Both authorities and consumers were suspicious of the forces of the market and distrusted all kinds of traders and businessmen. The notion of a “just price” characterized Greek and Roman thinking about the market of staple foods, meaning that the price should be determined by a market that was unhampered by manipulation and greed. Concomitantly, high food prices were inevitably blamed on the speculations of landowners and traders. When prices rose to a level that disrupted society, urban officials and private benefactors stepped in, as we have seen, by selling grain at prices that could be below current market level, but still above normal prices at that time of the year. In addition, in a mix of structural and ad hoc measures, urban authorities intervened in the market.27 In that sense, prices of basic food stuffs were not just the result of the interplay of supply and demand.

While most towns and cities lived off the agricultural produce of their own hinterland most of the time, harvest fluctuations imposed a variable and unpredictable dependence on outside resources. Apart from powerful states like classical Athens and Rome, towns and cities were not in a position to control the supra-regional grain trade. A strict maximum price policy would be counterproductive, as well-stocked markets and low prices within their community depended on the ability to attract suppliers. Classical Greek poleis therefore offered privileges in the form of citizenship and prestige to foreign merchants, while Athens forbade its citizens to invest in grain shipments to any other destination than their own city. Already in the Hellenistic period, many towns developed structural institutions such as the sitonia, a scheme that, on the basis of public funds and private contributions, built up sufficient financial reserves to be able, in times of dearth, to buy additional grain and sell it at prices below market levels.28 In the Greek East, these funds existed until the 3rd century ce, when the relationship between citizens and their authorities changed.

Since the ability to control outside resources was limited, most urban authorities had to limit their intervention to the local market. They did so in particular by regulating the profit margins of the retail trade. In democratic Athens, these laws regularly led to accusations, and the speeches that Lysias and Demosthenes wrote in such cases shed much light on the rules regulating the grain market of Athens at the time.29 The ultimate purpose was to ensure a plentiful supply of cheap grain, but the resulting uncertainty for bakers and merchants must have been detrimental for ensuring a stable market as well. Price fixing did occur as well, but not in the form of the continual imposition of fixed prices. Cases in which authorities tried to lower prices by simply imposing a maximum price generally failed, as potential suppliers withdrew from the market. In a few cases, we see that fixed prices were combined with the enforced sale of grain reserves by local owners.

The most famous case of the imposition of prices is the Price Edict of Diocletian from 301 ce, which imposed a maximum price on a wide range of goods and services and claimed to be a response to the avarice of dealers.30 Probably, it was an attempt to curb the incessant inflation, but one that undoubtedly failed. The writer Lactantius (de mort. pers. 7.6), who as a Christian was very much biased against the emperor, claims that the impact was disastrous, as the market supply dried up as a result of the edict. Scholars have used the edict, which specifies prices for several qualities and varieties of a wide range of commodities, to analyze economic aspects of manufacture and trade, but it is uncertain to what extent the prices mentioned reflected any real market. They are maximum prices, not prices prevalent on any specific market, and they do not distinguish between the price levels of great cities or small towns or different regions of the empire. The silence in our sources about its workings probably shows that the edict was not in force for long. This in itself shows that prices were determined by supply and demand, and could not be curbed, even by imperial authority.

Bibliography

Alston, Richard. “Trade and the City in Roman Egypt.” In Trade, Traders and the Ancient City. Edited by Helen Parkins and Christopher John Smith, 168–202. London: Routledge, 1998.Find this resource:

Bagnall, Roger S. “Prices in ‘Sales on Delivery’.” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 18 (1977): 85–96.Find this resource:

Bresson, Alain. The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy. Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Crawford, Michael H., and Joyce M. Reynolds. “The Aezani Copy of the Prices Edict.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 26 (1977): 125–151.Find this resource:

Crawford, Michael H., and Joyce M. Reynolds, “The Aezani Copy of the Prices Edict,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 34 (1979): 163–210.Find this resource:

De Neeve, Pieter Wim. “The Price of Agricultural Land in Roman Italy and the Problem of Economic Rationalism.” Opus 4 (1985): 77–109.Find this resource:

Drexhage, Hans-Joachim. Preise, Mieten, Pachten, Kosten und Löhne im römischen Ägypten bis zum regierungsantritt Diokletians. St. Katharinen, Germany: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1991.Find this resource:

Duncan-Jones, Richard. “The Price of Wheat in Roman Egypt under the Principate,” Chiron 6 (1976): 241–262.Find this resource:

Duncan-Jones, Richard. The Economy of the Roman Empire: Quantitative Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.Find this resource:

Erdkamp, Paul. The Grain Market in the Roman World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Erim, Kenan T., and Joyce M. Reynolds. “The Aphrodisias Copy of Diocletian’s Edict on Maximum Prices.” Journal of Roman Studies 63 (1973): 99–110.Find this resource:

Garnsey, Peter, and Otto Van Nijf, “Contrôle des prix du grain à Rome et dans les cites de l’Empire.” In Mémoire Perdue: Recherches sur l’administration romaine, 303–315. Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 1998.Find this resource:

Holleran, Claire. Shopping in Ancient Rome. The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Kim, Henry S. “Archaic Coinage as Evidence for the Use of Money.” In Money and Its Uses in the Ancient Greek World. Edited by Andrew Meadows and Kirsty Shipton, 7–21. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Lauffer, Siegfried. Diokletians Preisedikt. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1971.Find this resource:

Lytle, Ephraim. “Fish Lists in the Wilderness. The Social and Economic History of a Boiotian Price Decree.” Hesperia 79 (2010): 253–303.Find this resource:

McGinn, Thomas. The Economy of Prostitution in the Roman World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Mayerson, Philip. “Grain Prices in Late Antiquity and the Nature of the Evidence.” In Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical, Epigraphic, and Semitic Studies in Honor of Jonas C. Greenfield. Edited by Ziony Zevit, Seymour Gitin, and Michael Sokoloff, 443–449. Winnona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1976.Find this resource:

Migeotte, Leopold. “Le controle des prix dans les cités grecques.” In Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques. Edited by Jean Andreau, Pierre Briant, and Raymond Descat, 33–52. Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France: Musée archéologique départemental de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, 1997.Find this resource:

Pritchard, David M. Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Rathbone, Dominic W. “Prices and Price Formation in Roman Egypt.” In Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques. Edited by Jean Andreau, Pierre Briant, and Raymond Descat, 183–244. Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France: Musée archéologique départemental de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, 1997.Find this resource:

Reger, Gary. Regionalism and Change in the Economy of Independent Delos. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Scheidel, Walter. “Real Slave Prices and the Relative Cost of Slave Labor in the Greco-Roman World,” Ancient Society 35 (2005): 1–17.Find this resource:

Von Reden, Sitta. Money in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Von Reden, Sitta. “Money and Finance.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy. Edited by Walter Scheidel, 266–286. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Von Reden, Sitta. “Money and Prices in the Papyri, Ptolemaic Period.” Oxford Handbooks Online 2016.

Zuiderhoek, Arjan. “Feeding the Citizens. Municipal Grain Funds and Civic Benefactors in the Roman East.” In Feeding the Ancient City. Edited by Richard Alston and Otto Van Nijf, 159–180. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2008.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944).

(2.) See in particular Hans-Joachim Drexhage, Preise, Mieten, Pachten, Kosten und Löhne im römischen Ägypten bis zum regierungsantritt Diokletians (St. Katharinen, Germany: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1991).

(3.) For example, P. Giss. 68; P. Mich. 8 469; SB 5 7572; O. Claud. 2 226; O. Claud. 1 160; BGU 4 1205. For example, P. Cairo Zen. 59.012, lines 1–79, Trans. Michael M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest. A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 531–535.

(4.) Papyri from Oxyrhynchus can be found at Oxyrhynchus Online. Other useful databases are papyri.info and Trismegistos. Price declarations, including texts, translations, and images, can be found using the search tool.

(5.) Cf. Dominic W. Rathbone, “Prices and Price Formation in Roman Egypt,” in Jean Andreau, Pierre Briant, and Raymond Descat, Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France: Musée archéologique départemental de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, 1997), 183–244. Also, Richard Duncan-Jones, “The Price of Wheat in Roman Egypt under the Principate,” Chiron 6 (1976): 241–262; Roger S. Bagnall, “Prices in ‘Sales on Delivery,’” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 18 (1977): 85–96; and Sitta von Reden, “Money and Prices in the Papyri, Ptolemaic Period.” Oxford Handbooks Online 2016.

(6.) Richard Alston, “Trade and the City in Roman Egypt,” in Trade, Traders and the Ancient City, eds. Helen Parkins and Christopher Smith (London: Routledge 1998), 168–202, sees limited market integration in Oxyrhynchus and its hinterland. Rathbone, “Prices and Price Formation,” argues in favor of high market integration instead.

(7.) See for example Pliny, Epist. 6.19, on the basis of which Moses Finley, The Ancient Economy, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 119–120, denies the presence of a real property market. Also, Pieter Wim De Neeve, “The Price of Agricultural Land in Roman Italy and the Problem of Economic Rationalism,” Opus 4 (1985): 77–109.

(8.) On prices in literary texts, see in general Richard Duncan-Jones, The Economy of the Roman Empire. Quantitative Studies (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1982), which provides lists of various goods and services, prices, and primary sources. On slave prices, see in particular Walter Scheidel, “Real Slave Prices and the Relative Cost of Slave Labor in the Greco-Roman World,” Ancient Society 35 (2005): 1–17.

(9.) Cf. Thomas McGinn, The Economy of Prostitution in the Roman World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), 41–46.

(10.) A selection of graffiti can be found at The Ancient Graffiti Project Search Engine.

(11.) IG i3 421–430. A detailed discussion, presenting the literary and epigraphic evidence, can be found in David M. Pritchard, Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015). Greek inscriptions, including translations, can be found at Attic Inscriptions Online.

(12.) See in particular, Gary Reger, Regionalism and Change in the Economy of Independent Delos (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). Inscriptions from Delos can be found at PHI Greek Inscriptions.

(13.) Ephraim Lytle, “Fish Lists in the Wilderness. The Social and Economic History of a Boiotian Price Decree,” Hesperia 79 (2010): 253–303.

(14.) For an overview of prices in inscriptions from Italy and Africa, see Duncan-Jones, Economy of the Roman Empire, 1982.

(15.) Duncan-Jones, 1982, 145–146, 346. On wheat prices in late antiquity: Philip Mayerson, “Grain Prices in Late Antiquity and the Nature of the Evidence,” in Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical, Epigraphic and Semitic Studies in Honor of Jonas C. Greenfield, eds. Ziony Zevit, Seymour Gitin, and Michael Sokoloff (Winnona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1976): 443–449.

(16.) Greece: Alain Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016), 171–172; Rome: Duncan-Jones, 1982, 249–250.

(17.) Sitta von Reden, “Money and Finance” in The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy, ed. Walter Scheidel (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 266–286.

(18.) Henry S. Kim, “Archaic Coinage as Evidence for the Use of Money,” in Money and Its Uses in the Ancient Greek World, eds. Andrew Meadows and Kirsty Shipton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 8, 12–13.

(19.) Paul Erdkamp, The Grain Market in the Roman World (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 298–299.

(20.) Midrash Psalms 12.1. ed. Buber pp. 104–105.

(21.) Claire Holleran, Shopping in Ancient Rome. The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 252–255.

(22.) Digest 13.4.3. Also 35.2.63.2.

(23.) Sitta Von Reden, Money in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 146.

(24.) Martial, Epigr. 10.96; Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11.28.

(25.) Erdkamp, The Grain Market, 147–162. The price cycle is observable in the price series from Delos. Von Reden, Money in Classical Antiquity, 129, 155. In Egypt, the seasonal price fluctuation seems to have been less pronounced.

(26.) Erdkamp, The Grain Market, 189–196.

(27.) Leopold Migeotte, “Le controle des prix dans les cités grecques,” In Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques, eds. Jean Andreau, Pierre Briant, and Raymond Descat (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. France: Musée archéologique départemental de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, 1997), 33–52; and Peter Garnsey and Otto Van Nijf, “Contrôle des prix du grain à Rome et dans les cites de l’Empire,” in Mémoire Perdue: Recherches sur l’administration romaine (Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 1998), 303–315; and Erdkamp, The Grain Market, 258–316.

(28.) Arjan Zuiderhoek, “Feeding the Citizens. Municipal Grain Funds and Civic Benefactors in the Roman East,” in Feeding the Ancient City, eds. Richard Alston and Otto Van Nijf (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2008), 159–180.

(29.) Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy, 254–259.

(30.) Siegfried Lauffer, Diokletians Preisedikt (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1971); Kenan T. Erim and Joyce M. Reynolds, “The Aphrodisias Copy of Diocletian’s Edict on Maximum Prices,” Journal of Roman Studies 63 (1973): 99–110; Michael H. Crawford and Joyce M. Reynolds, “The Aezani Copy of the Prices Edict,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 26 (1977): 125–151; and Michael H. Crawford and Joyce M. Reynolds, “The Aezani Copy of the Prices Edict,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 34 (1979): 163–210.

Do you have feedback?