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La mer et l'approvisionnement de la ville de Rome

from HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES: The Mediterranean world

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2017

Catherine Virlouvet
Affiliation:
École française de Rome, Italy
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Summary

RÉSUMÉ.Cette contribution s'interroge sur l'importance du commerce maritime dans le ravitaillement de la ville de Rome, du IIe siècle av. J.-C. au IVe siècle ap. J.-C., alors que sa population atteignit au moins un million de personnes. Elle montre comment l'approvisionnement en nourriture de la capitale répondait à une organisation élaborée dans laquelle la mer jouait un rôle essentiel. Malgré les techniques limitées de l'époque, les Romains développèrent un système efficace de « commerce interdépendant », permettant nombre d'initiatives privées soutenues par une impressionnante infrastructure matérielle et opérationnelle gérée par l'état.

ABSTRACT.This contribution discusses the significance of seaborne commerce for provisioning the city of Rome from the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD, when its population reached at least one million people. It shows that the food supply of the capital was based on a sophisticated system, in which the sea played an essential role. Despite the technical limitations of the time, the Romans developed a highly effective system of ‘interlinked trade’, with private initiatives supported by an impressive physical and operational infrastructure organized by the state.

Dans les derniers siècles de la République Rome atteignit un nombre d'habitants qui ne lui permit plus de s'approvisionner sur son arrière-pays. On peut discuter à l'infini sur les chiffres de population, qui ne sont que des estimations. Les indices convergent cependant : la ville, devenue capitale d'un empire qui s'étendait peu à peu à l'ensemble du bassin méditerranéen, comptait plusieurs centaines de milliers d'habitants et dépassa certainement le million au début de l'Empire. On estime aujourd'hui qu'elle garda jusqu'au Bas Empire une population hors norme pour l'époque, de plusieurs centaines de milliers d'habitants, malgré les difficultés connues par Rome à partir de la fin du IIIe siècle.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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