Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 August 2005
Until now, the Roman economy has been discussed primarily in economic terms. After the vehement debate between substantivist and formalists in the 1960s and 1970s, most historians and archaeologists have embraced an essentially substantivist perspective. Although this outlook has proven its value, it also seriously hampers a holistic view on the Roman exchange system by its focus on economic factors. Recent theoretical developments in economic anthropology, particularly through the work of Bloch and Parry, provide a model which is better suited to analysing the exchange system in its social, political and moral dimensions. It has been used succesfully in recent publications of the exchange system in the ancient Greek world. In this article, its possibilities for the Roman exchange system and the role of money in it will be explored.