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7. The Diolkos and the Emporion: How a Land Bridge Framed the Commercial Economy of Roman Corinth

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Chapter Summary

In the 18th and 19th centuries, when Corinth became the subject of historical study, scholars again invoked territory to make sense of the city. The arguments for the diolkos and the emporion have constantly influenced interpretations of the city. This chapter reconsiders the explanations about the commercial facilities of the Isthmus in light of the extant textual evidence. It argues the second of these ideas (the thoroughfare thesis) has no basis in ancient texts while the first (the commercial emporion) is found in an array of textual evidence. The ancients had little conception of the Isthmus as an actively used commercial thoroughfare but they did view it consistently as a commercial destination and marketplace for the exchange and redistribution of goods. The chapter offers some thoughts on the implications of an emporion for addressing the economy of Roman Corinth, the social opportunities, and forms of inequality.

Keywords: commercial economy; commercial emporion; diolkos; economic inequality; Roman Corinth; thoroughfare thesis



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