Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 October 2020
One question that arises from a study of ports is whether or not there existed a pattern of port societies. A Roman port society means the individuals and groups who together with various levels of administration made port life real, as well as their relationships and the rules of the social game. Using the plural presupposes that these could vary through time and space. Ports were not simply an administrative machine whose details still puzzle us. They were also cosmopolitan places devoted to profit that involved a complex set of professions and people of various origins and social status, with various patterns of organization and networking (citizenship, language, religion, guilds, personal patronage, family in its wider sense), who were able to combine in a great variety of ways. At this point one wonders whether there was a pattern of society that was common to ports across the Empire as a whole. Were there several patterns that could help us better understand or identify port hierarchies and the organization and layout of ports?