The aim of this thesis is to evaluate the political effects of the long-distance international commerce of the Roman Empire upon the Roman East. Two areas of possible effect are studied: first, on local societies in the East which were likely to have been affected by the trade, and second, on the policy of the imperial government in the East. Attention is given to the opinions expressed by many historians who have envisaged a strongly proactive policy toward the trade by the Romans, both at an imperial and local level. These theories are compared with the sources of data available, especially that which has recently come to light in archaeological investigation, in order-to see if they are supportible from this evidence. The thesis commences with an introductory chapter which deals with various topics essential to the understanding of the commerce. These topics include a note on the available sources and a study of the possible effect of the commerce on the economy of the Roman Empire. The chapter concludes with studies of the scope of the trade, demand for its wares, and the situation at Augustus' accession. The study then proceeds to an area-by-area overview of the trade, detailing the commerce in Egypt, Arabia, Palmyra and Syria-Mesopotamia. In each area the conduct of the commerce and what can be known about its participants is studied from the existing evidence, with special attention given to the evidence recently uncovered in archaeological and papyrological investigations. In all four areas, any information about the effect of the trade on local social conditions and political formations is considered and evaluated. In addition, any applicable activity of the Roman central government in the area is considered for evidence that the commerce may have influenced imperial policy. The evidence indicates that in many cases, local political formations and economies may have been affected by the long-distance international commerce in the East. This is particularly the case where the commerce may have been a dominant factor in the local economy, such as at Palmyra and Petra. On the other hand, the evidence does not support the view that there was a strongly proactive policy on the part of the Roman government toward the eastern commerce. Roman government policy is summarised in the closing chapters, which consider the statements of Roman historians regarding the commerce, the revenue which the Romans gleaned from the trade, and other factors which may have influenced the Roman government's attitude to the trade. From the foregoing it is concluded that the commerce may have had a significant effect on local political formations in the Roman East in some isolated instances, particularly where the income from the commerce represented a significant proportion of the local economy. However, it appears that the Roman government was only interested in the trade as a source of revenue, and took no proactive measures to encourage or direct the trade. The evidence indicates that they instead preferred to protect and exploit the developing trade with minimal interference.
Copyright 1998 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1999. Includes bibliographical references