Chapter

Trade in Roman Berenike

Steven E. Sidebotham

in Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520244306
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948389 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520244306.003.0012
Trade in Roman Berenike

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Evidence for Berenike's commercial contacts in the Roman period is far better than for the Ptolemaic. There are two major sources of information about items traded at or passing through Berenike in Roman times. Literary can be combined with archaeological evidence to establish which regions Berenike did business with and attempt to identify which ports Berenike most likely had as trading partners. The most noteworthy import to Berenike was black pepper. Items excavated at Berenike that came from India or the Indian Ocean basin include sorghum, rice, coconuts, mung beans, Indian gooseberry, sesame seeds, Nile catfish bones, escargot, Job's tear, rosary peas, frankincense, and myrrh. The presence of Roman coins in India does not necessarily indicate any balance-of-trade deficit, nor does it invariably signal that merchandise was purchased in every case. Finally, examples of cultural transmission are described.

Keywords: Berenike; Roman period; trade; black pepper; Roman coins; India; cultural transmission; sorghum; rice; coconuts

Chapter.  19068 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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