BMCR 1999.01.05

Response: Will on Kennell on Will

Response to 1998.10.08

Response by

Dear Professor Kennell:

This is an informal response to a few of your comments in the review, in BMCR 1998.10.08, of the Hoff/Rotroff volume on the Romanization of Athens. I wrote the chapter on the economic Romanization of Athens. In your review of my chapter, you seem to imply that “Romanization,” as far as Athens is concerned, should not be defined in economic terms. If I understand you correctly, you feel that the “cultural and symbolic value” (i.e., worth as indices of Romanization) of Italian wine and oil in the East would not be comparable to such value in the West, and you go on to say the occurrence of Italian wine jars in Athens is of less significance than it would be in the West. May I reply, first, that my remarks about amphoras in the East apply, in the case of the Athens and Delos, chiefly to olive oil jars, not to wine jars. I note (p. 127) that there was a “clear preference for Greek wine” in Athens and Delos. Susan Alcock’s research, as summarized in GRAECIA CAPTA, has indicated that there was very little agricultural activity in Greece for centuries. The oil imported by Athens and Delos from the West, and the wine imported from the Dodecanese and from the northern Aegean would thus have been vital imports, whether or not protectionism was the cause of the failure of Greek agriculture.

As to your criticism of my acceptance as historical of Cicero’s remark about Roman protectionism in De re publica 3.16, my reply is this: the archaeological evidence supports the existence of a monopoly on the part of the Sestius firm in Cosa in the exportation of Italian wine to Gaul from the second quarter of the second century BC down to the first quarter of the first century BC. Gaul did not begin to export wine until the last half of the first century BC, as the research of Fanette Laubenheimer proves. After the Third Punic War, amphoras become the chief finds on all Roman sites, from Spain to India. They account for about 80% of Roman finds on land and for an even larger proportion of underwater finds. That is true even in India. Ancient historians need to pay more heed to the archaeological evidence.

Whether or not it is valid to speak about economic Romanization with regard to Greece, I call your attention to the interest nowadays in economic Americanization in Europe and all over the world. Michael Ermarth, the chair of History at Dartmouth, lectures and publishes on the economic influence in Europe of McDonald’s, LL Bean, Microsoft. How is such influence different from the economic Romanization we see reflected in the shipping containers found throughout the Roman world? I hope historians will begin to open their minds to such finds.


Elizabeth Lyding Will