Economy of Ancient Rome
Successful economy was one of the backbones of ancient Roman state during the Republic period and continued throughout Empire. It was a well oiled machine that was driven by conquest of new territories due to vast agriculture land, mining sites and many other resources they would gain in the process. It is also important to say that Romans took slaves from conquered nations and implemented them into economy primarily as a free working force.
Agriculture was the most important aspect of the economy
Romans, like many other ancient civilizations, depended heavily on agriculture. It all started with villagers working in the fields surrounding Rome and worshiped goddess Ceres for a good harvest. Ancient philosopher Cicero said: “of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful and none gave you more freedom” Rome’s contact with Carthage, Greece, and the Hellenistic East in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC improved it’s agricultural methods. Roman agriculture reached its height in productivity and efficiency during the late Republic and early Empire which can be described as one of the most successful periods regarding overall stability and economy. Manufacturing goods were also produced in Rome. Blacksmiths, tailors, builders, carpenters and stone masons were in a high demand due to Roman megalomaniac civil engineering investments and projects. Emperors wanted to make their own landmarks in city itself and also provinces so they organized massive building sites that were financed by the state. That was in some periods major contribution to Roman economy.
During the centuries trade with other nations also emerged and flourished. Rome became a major trading center since the early Republic period. Romans built a huge network of roads and settlements. Most of them were dirt and stone roads which contributed to the trade expansion in vast areas of provinces. Trade as well as army personnel required a commodity that could easily be used as a method of payment. For that purpose Romans minted metal coins. Some of them were: denarius, sestertius (1/4 of denarius) and as (1/10 of denarius). The main mining regions of the early empire (Augustus period) were Spain (gold, silver, copper, tin, lead); Gaul (gold, silver, iron); Britain (mainly iron, lead, tin), the Danubian provinces (gold, iron); Macedonia and Thrace (gold, silver); and Asia Minor (gold, silver, iron, tin). Coins were used not only used as a method of payment but also as a keeper of personal fortunes. Coins were collected in storage units and after some time a lot of rich citizens began to lend their money to others which was essentially a primitive banking model. Considering all the aspects of Roman economy it is safe to conclude few things:- Roman economy expanded from very primitive agricultural based to very advanced (in the context of ancient era),- In their attempt to be more effective as a conquering nation, Romans developed a network of roads and settlements that became the foundation for thriving trade routes,- Roman emperors (and Senate before them) used public money to finance many investments which was a great example of government intervention in otherwise market economy.