Tabernae were ubiquitous in all Roman cities, lining the busiest streets and dominating their most crowded intersections in numbers far exceeding those of any other form of building. That they played a vital role in the operation of the city, and indeed in the very definition of urbanization in ancient Rome, is a point too often under-appreciated in Roman studies, and one which bears fruitful further exploration.
The Roman Retail Revolution offers a thorough investigation into the social and economic worlds of the Roman shop, focusing on food and drink outlets in particular. Combining critical analysis of both archaeological material and textual sources, it challenges many of the conventional ideas about the place of retailing in the Roman city and unravels the historical development of tabernae to identify three major waves or revolutions in the shaping of retail landscapes.
The volume is underpinned by two new and important bodies of evidence: the first generated from the University of Cincinnati's recent archaeological excavations into a Pompeian neighborhood of close to twenty shop-fronts, and the second resulting from a field-survey of the retail landscapes of more than a hundred cities from
across the Roman world. The richness of this information, combined with the volume's interdisciplinary approach to the lives of the Roman sub-elite, results in a refreshingly original look at the history of retailing and urbanism in the Roman world.
Steven J. R. Ellis is a Roman archaeologist whose research interests cover the social and structural formation of ancient cities. His publications have explored Roman retail spaces, urban waste management, superstition, Roman coins, site formation processes, urban and sacred infrastructure, movement, social structures and their hierarchies (especially of the urban sub-elites), archaeological fieldwork methodologies, and the Roman fish-salting industry. He has also directed and published archaeological projects in both Italy and Greece, including the 'Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia', a project of the University of Cincinnati, where he is Associate Professor of Classics, and the American Academy in Rome.