The Resources and Economy of Roman Nicomedia
Date: 7 March 2012
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Classics
The last twenty years have seen an increasing interest in ancient economic studies, and especially criticism of the primitivist approach to the ancient economy. Although the current state of ancient economic studies shows a range of different approaches, and has produced new models to interpret the ancient economy beyond the great ...
The last twenty years have seen an increasing interest in ancient economic studies, and especially criticism of the primitivist approach to the ancient economy. Although the current state of ancient economic studies shows a range of different approaches, and has produced new models to interpret the ancient economy beyond the great debate between the modernists and the primitivists, there is still room for discussion of both old and new approaches to the study of urban economies. This thesis studies the resources and the economy of Roman Nicomedia, a city where systematic excavation has not yet been conducted but where archaeological survey research has being carried out since 2005. The aim of this study is to assess the production, consumption, and distribution patterns of the city within its own dynamics. In terms of methodology, it takes into consideration Louis Robert’s work on the Bithynian cities within the longue durée and accordingly, evaluates accounts from the pre-industrial period of Nicomedia, modern İzmit, under the Ottoman Empire. This study particularly takes into account the travellers’ notes from the 18th to the 19th centuries along with available primary and secondary sources in order to grasp the moments of the transformation and change in the production and consumption patterns in Nicomedia/İzmit over time. Finally, the thesis, which synthesizes textual and material evidence from Nicomedia as well as from the region of Bithynia, ascertains the city’s income and expenses. The thesis challenges the Finleyan idea of self-sufficiency and scrutinizes the limits of the ‘consumer city’ model. By focusing on the case of Roman Nicomedia, rather than falling into generalisation, this study attempts to investigate the effects of production and consumption patterns in the development of the non-agricultural sector in general, and pays particular attention to the underestimated role of trade in the urban economy. The thesis also evaluates the role of the Roman state and army in the economy of the city and asks whether this should be seen as a stimulus or burden affecting consumption and distribution patterns. This study therefore examines the resources, the self-sufficiency, the commercial commodities, trading activities and the level of connectivity of Roman Nicomedia. The case of Nicomedia should encourage other case studies to reveal the dynamics of urban economies under the Roman Empire.
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