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Commercial Space In Late Antiquity

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Chapter Summary

Commercial space in the ancient city involved an integration of retail with small-scale craft production. This chapter concentrates on the evidence for a number of possible activities in shops and small workshops which functioned as points of manufacture and sale in cities. Literary sources provide some descriptions of commercial activities taking place in cities such as Rome, Carthage, Constantinople, Antioch, Emesa, Edessa, Beirut and Alexandria. According to literary sources, workshops for working and shaping glass were prohibited in towns due to the severe danger of fire. Because textiles are only preserved under unusual conditions, most of our knowledge of cloth-working and trade in Late Antiquity originates from textual, iconographic and epigraphic sources. Taverns and restaurants must have been present at most antique sites. However, no consistent definition exists for how they might be recognised in the archaeological record.

Keywords: Alexandria; cloth-working; commercial space; Late Antiquity; literary sources; taverns



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