Universiteit Leiden

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Forum Antiquum: Miko Flohr

Thursday 6 April 2017
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Vossius conference room


If there is one feature that distinguishes Roman cities from their earlier Mediterranean counterparts it is the taberna: especially in Italy, and later also in Roman Europe, streets were lined with shops – a feature to which we are so much accustomed that its historical significance has long been overlooked. Yet questions as to why Romans actually began to build these ‘tabernae’, and how the proliferation of these structures subsequently changed the dynamics of everyday urban life are of profound importance for our understanding of Greco-Roman urban history – economically, socially, and culturally.

This will approach the history of the taberna in relation to Rome’s emerging imperial hegemony in the Mediterranean and its impact on the emergence of forms of consumerism in the traditional heartland of the empire – central Italy. Combining literary sources with archaeological material, it will analyze the early history of the taberna, and looking at the historical development of commercial landscapes at cities like Pompeii and Ostia, it will highlight how changing economic circumstances fostered the emergence of ever more extravagant forms of investment, with substantial impact on the social and economic dynamics of urban communities.


Miko Flohr is Lecturer in Ancient History at the Institute for History, Leiden University, and was formerly Assistant Director of the Oxford Roman Economy Project (2010-2012). His main research focus lies with urban history in the Roman world, with a particular emphasis on economic life in Roman Italy and on textile economies. His first monograph, The World of the Fullo, was published by OUP in 2013; with Andrew Wilson, he co-edited volumes on Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World (OUP, 2016) and on the Economy of Pompeii (OUP, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph on the social and economic history of the Roman taberna, the concluding part of his NWO-VENI project ‘Building tabernae: how how commercial investment changed the cities of Roman Italy (200BCE-300CE)’.

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