Related teams & projects

Upcoming events

2016 SEP. 15-17

Long-Distance Trade in Greco-Roman and Premodern European and Muslim Eurasia and Mediterranean

(International Conference)

September 15-17, 2016
University of Antwerp & Ghent University

Past events

JUN. 04

Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World (SDEP Workshop)

Monday 4th June 2012
Brussels, Royal Flemish Academy Of Belgium For Science And The Arts

In this pilot workshop we wish to explore the various methods and models that form the basis of our research program. Does NIE offer a workable alternative theoretical framework to transcend traditional neo-classical theory ? How reliable are archaeological statistics ? Can we read economic development from Roma villa's qua production units ? Did Roman law make a difference ? Can epigraphy teach us more about ancient technology ?

JUN. 29-30

Structure and scale of Roman urban economies: the case of Pompeii (International Conference)

June 29-30, 2012
Oxford, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies

Oxford Roman Economy Project & SDEP

This conference brings together Pompeii specialists and leading economic historians of the Roman world to explore what Pompeii’s unique remains have to offer to the larger debates about structure and scale in the Roman economy. In doing so, the conference will foster debate contributing to both our understanding of Pompeii and that of the Roman economy. Pompeian studies, often too exclusively focused on Pompeii alone, will profit from the context provided by discussing Pompeii in the wider Roman economy debate; economic historians will be provided with a detailed case study of an urban economy on the micro-scale. Such case studies are essential in refining the macro-scale economic models currently dominating the field.

OCT. 19-20

Infrastructure as a means of government? Interaction between state and municipality (International Conference)

October 19-20, 2012
University Zürich

Fachbereich Alte Geschichte & SDEP

The colloquium aims at exploring the measures and competences necessary for the establishment, organisation and funding of infrastructural facilities that were, due to their overarching importance (with respect to politics, administration or economy), of special interest to the state and the communities of the Imperium Romanum. Besides questions of organisation, the focus is on the contexts and motives that underlay administrative and action strategies, such as pragmatic political and administrative intentions. Conflicts of communities among themselves as well as with the governor or other state functionaries are of special interest. Cases in which cities or villages had a communal interest in the state-funded measures or, on the other hand, were affected or even burdened with them – for example the maintenance and servicing of facilities – are brought into focus. Altogether, these investigations are able to essentially contribute to an understanding of the functioning of the Roman Empire; both from the perspective of the state (represented by the emperor, governors or other representatives) and of provincial communities. Finally, these measures of development and organisation will be discussed with respect to their place in the bigger picture of government planning and objectives. It will be asked to which degree they have to be understood as a purposefully controlled integrative grouping of ethnicities and communities (commonwealth), in which important interests were pursued at a supra-regional level.

Organized by Prof. Dr. Anne Kolb,

NOV. 9

Crafts and Trade in the Roman Economy (SDEP Workshop)

Friday 9th Nov. 2012, 14u-17u
Ghent, Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (KANTL)
Koningstraat 18, 9000 Gent

A brief exploratory workshop on crafts and trade, prefiguring the larger 'Labor project' (on which see below)

Preliminary program

  • Kai Ruffing (Marburg), Auctions and wine trade in the Roman economy
  • Nicolas Monteix (Rouen), Craftsmanship beyond production. Questioning Pompeii
  • Kerstin Droß-Krüpe (Marburg), Dyers, weaver, fullers – Nature and volume of textile production in Graeco-Roman Egypt
  • Paul Erdkamp & Ruben Menten-Plesters, The textile industry in Roman Egypt
for more information contact

DEC. 14

Parapolitic Agency in the Roman Economy

Friday 14th Dec. 2012
Ghent, Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (KANTL)
Koningstraat 18, 9000 Gent

The central question of the workshop is: How did private interest groups use the state to defend their economic interests and what was the overall effect of this on economic development? ‘Parapolitical agency’ can be interpreted very broadly, and may encompass such diverse groups as societates of publicani, faeneratores, collegia, tenants petitioning the emperor, cities/civic elites, temples, the Church, and so forth (the list is by no means exhaustive). One may also think of state officials (including imperial freedmen) and members of imperial and provincial elites using (their links to) state power to further their own interests. Ultimately, of course, the goal should be to determine what the effects of such behaviour were on economic development. Could the state, its officials and institutions successfully be co-opted by private parties in ways that reduced transaction costs and increased the overall efficiency of economic processes, or did parapolitical agency mostly encourage rent seeking and predation, thus compromising societal well-being and undermining economic performance?

Click here for the full programme

MAY 30 - JUN. 1

Work, labor and professions in the Roman World (Book publication project SDEP-RSRC)

Ghent May 30th – June 1st, 2013
Ghent University

Roman Society Research Center & SDEP

This monograph and conference are part of the six year research program on “Factors of Production in the Roman World” of the Roman Society Research Center, which is covered also (since 1 Jan. 2012) by the international research network “Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World” (2012-2016). It follows up on the international conference on “Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World” which was held in Brussels in May 2011 and formed the basis for a collaborative monograph currently under preparation for publication by Oxford U.P. It will be followed by a third on “Capital and investments in the Roman World” (2013-2015)

NOV. 8

Words, numbers and rationality: The effect of accounting systems and language on economic and business decision-making

Reading, November 8th, 2013

A one-day workshop sponsored by the International Research Network ‘Structural Determinants of Economic Performance in the Roman World’ and The Economic History Society

  • Mick Stringer (U. of Reading): Sales, Costs and ... Confusion? : Linguistic and accounting constraints on decision-making in Roman agriculture
  • Alisdair Dobie (U. of Stirling): Medieval Man, Accounting and Economic Rationalism
  • Richard Macve (London School of Economics): A genealogy of myths about the rationality of accounting in the West and in the East
  • Oscar Gelderblom (Utrecht University): The public support of private accounting as the key to understanding the commercial expansion of Europe before the Industrial Revolution
  • Gregory Waymire (Emory University): The Impact of Hard Information on Self-Dealing, Soft  Communication, and Social Gains in an Investment-Trust Game
  • Sudipta Basu (Temple University): Professional Knowledge-Building Institutions and the Historical Emergence of Accounting Norms
  • Round Table Discussion, with the participation of: Mark Casson, Koen Verboven, Daniel Mullin, and Annalisa Marzano.

for more information please contact Annalisa Marzano ()

OCT. 25

Continuity and Change in the economy of Greco-Roman Egypt (SDEP Workshop)

Catholic University of Leuven, Friday 25th Oct. 2013


Joe Manning (University of Yale), Andrew Monson (New York University), Paul Erdkamp (VUB), Katelijn Vandorpe (KUL), Isabella Tsigarida (University of Zürich), Yaacov Lev (Bar-Ilan University)

MAR. 27-28

Church and economy in late Antiquity (publication project)

Ghent, March 27-28, 2014

papers to be edited by Ine Jacobs (Brussels/Leuven) and Peter Van Nuffelen (Ghent), with a preliminary workshop.

Recent re-assessments of the economy in the later Roman Empire have tended to focus on the role of the state and its tax system. Yet the period is also marked by the rise of the Church as an economic agent: legal privileges and inheritances ensured the rapid expansion of the patrimonium of the church and related economic activity. Much work still needs to be done to acquire a detailed insight in the economic role the church started to play, its importance, and its relative wealth. The volume wishes to offer a set of detailed chapters that analyse specific issues and problems, so as to offer a starting point for further research.

click here for more information

APR. 23-26

European Social Science and History Conference

Vienna 23-26 April 2014
Sessions organized by SDEP :

  • Elites and the Urban Food Supply in the Roman World
  • Pre-industrial Textile Industry in a Comparative Perspective
  • Rethinking the Ancient Economy

Dec. 3

Seminar by Tom Brughmans (Konstanz)
Modelling the Roman economy: lessons learned from applying computational modelling techniques to the study of Roman tableware distributions

Wednesday, 3rd Dec. 2014, 14:30
Ghent, Blandijnberg 2, lecture theatre 120.012 (2nd floor)
click here for abstract

DEC. 12

The trade between the Mediterranean area and India: Roman, Arab, Early Modern Europe

Ghent, 12th Dec., 2014


Capital, Investment and Innovation in the Roman World

Brussels, 28-30 May, 2015

Capital may be defined to comprise all man-made resources available for production. These include (1) financial capital : all monetary wealth in whatever form (stocks of currency, bullion, transferable credit bonds, etc.) available to buy whatever is needed or used to realize production: supplies, tools, equipment, labor, licenses, information, etc.; as well as (2) real (or physical) capital: all material resources such as tools, workshops and factories, warehouses, etc. needed or used to realize production. Both forms of capital may be privately or publicly owned. In a wider sense the concept 'human capital' denotes the embodied stock of human competencies, intellectual and other, that allow a person to perform the tasks necessary to create 'labor'. In order to retain a clear focus for the project and monograph, however, we will limit ourselves for this project to these 'classical' definitions of capital. The concept 'social capital', while valuable in itself, would take us too far from what we consider the core issues of our project. We explicitly focus, furthermore, on investments and innovations, i.e. on the quantitative and qualitative changes that stocks of financial, real and human capital underwent in the Roman world. The objective is to produce a coherent and innovative study of capital, investment and innovation in the Roman world.


Complexity: a new framework to interpret ancient economic proxy data

Sagalassos (Turkey), Sept. 11-12th 2015

No one today doubts anymore the value of archaeological data to ancient economic history. They reflect human behaviour and choice, acting out within the dimensions of landscape, natural resources, ecology and climate. However, the ‘translation’ of these data into economic indicators (such as GDP or Gini-co-efficients) remains  a huge challenge. Rather than focus on quantitative changes, increases or decreases in recorded (or recordable) data, we wish to study whether and how the data show processes that reveal the dynamics of economic systems in the Roman world. (see below for our position paper.

As part of the project we will organize an open authors’ meeting in Sagalassos (Turkey), 11-12 September 2015, where we will discuss chapter drafts shared beforehand amongst the authors. 

click here for more information

2015 Dec. 8

Workshop Ancient History department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 10:00h. – 13:00
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, campus Etterbeek, Building ‘L’, room L.2.210.

Speakers are:

  • Kristof Vermote: The 'macula servitutis' of Roman freedmen
  • Emanuel Mayer: Caravan Cities. Urbanism and International Trade in the Ancient World

Kristof Vermote (UGent) works on a PhD thesis titled "Identity and stigmatization: the case of the Roman freedman. A qualitative analysis of the socialization and stratification of and the interaction between freed and freeborn Romans".

Prof.dr. Mayer (Yale-NUS, Singapore) published Rom ist dort wo der Kaiser ist (Romano-Germanic Central Museum 2002) and The Ancient Middle Classes (Harvard University Press 2012. He is currently writing a book that explores the social and cultural consequences of long distance trade between the Mediterranean and India.

2015 Dec. 15

Seminar by Emmanuel Mayer(Yale-NUS College, Singapore) on: The Aesthetics of Commerce in the Roman Empire: Middle Class Pride and the Commodification of Art

Ghent, Tuesday 15th December 2015, 14:30 - 17:15

Blandijn room 110.079

 On Tuesday 15. December Prof. Emanuel Mayer will teach a seminar at the History Department of Ghent University on *The Aesthetics of Commerce in the Roman Empire: Middle Class Pride and the Commodification of Art.* Prof. Mayer is the author of *The Ancient Middle Classes* (Harvard UP 2012), in which he discusses the transformation of Roman urbanism from agrotowns to commercial cities and the subsequent rise of broad commercial classes, which found their own forms of cultural expression. In his seminar, Prof. Mayer will inter alia focus on the use of material/visual culture for the purpose of writing social history. The seminar will take place in Blandijn room 110.079, starting at 14:30 and will last until 17:15 at the latest. All are most welcome!

2015 Dec. 17-18

Epigraphy on Ceramics

Thursday 17th - Friday 18th December 2015
Rozier 44, room 2.50

From the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity, throughout the Mediterranean Basin, inscriptions were being written or painted on ceramic objects. These texts include short administrative data, religious dedications, property indications etc. Because the inscriptions are often short, difficult to read and hard to contextualize, epigraphy on ceramics tends to remain the playing field of a small number of experts and the potential for broader research questions often fails to be recognized. This conference will highlight the importance of epigraphy on ceramics by discussing its contribution to ancient economic history, religious history and linguistics. For each of these thematic strands, we invite contributions focusing on the Greek world, the Roman world, Late Antiquity and contact zones between Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean civilizations (including e.g. the Indian and Arabian world). With this chronological and thematic approach, the conference intends to stress the relevance of epigraphy on ceramics for many disciplines in ancient history.

Jul. 5

Seminar Taco Terpstra (Northwestern University, Chicago) on: 
State Formation and the Mediterranean Economy over the Longue Durée

5 July 2016, 11 a.m.

Archaeology meeting room, Universiteitsforum first floor

together with: research group 'Economy, Ecology, Demography'