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The emergence of the Imperial cult and its role in
provincial diplomacy have been much studied by Roman
scholarship. In general, the balance is tipped in
favour of studies of public practice, although
private practice has certainly also been on the
scholarly agenda. However, the role of emperor
worship in overseas commerce has received precious
little attention. The evidence is admittedly thin (I
lay no claim to being comprehensive in my treatment
here). Moreover, absent above all are documentary
data, the type of source material that would have
been most useful and that scholars of more recent
time periods have access to, for instance in the
form of private business letters. Nonetheless, what
has survived is in my view intriguing and worth
discussing jointly, an endeavour that to my
knowledge has never been attempted.