Les lieux de métier. Boutiques et ateliers d'Herculanum

Abstract : The aim of this book is to understand workplaces, intended as both spaces of production and commerce, in the urban economy and society of the Roman world. These are viewed through the lens of Herculaneum, a small town all too often relegated to a complementary role in studies centred on nearby Pompeii. The introduction to the volume consists of a full critical revision of the work of Amedeo Maiuri, who brought to light most of Herculaneum. Here his publications of the site are compared with archival records of the excavations undertaken between 1927 and 1961. The book is subsequently divided in two parts. The first chapters describe a 'grammar' of the arrangements of the shops and workshops of Herculaneum. In the absence of specific evidence, the shop is identified by its ability to serve clients through a large opening onto the street, the basic characteristic of the taberna as a generic selling and manufacturing space. The other workspaces of Herculaneum are illuminated by their comparison with similar spaces in Pompeii. The detailed study of basic activities, food-retail and textile production, inserted in their respective 'production-chains', allows us to elaborate an archaeology of modes of production for the first century AD. Starting from an analysis of the history of different building-types associated with shops and workshops, the second part of this book follows the commercial and productive development of the first century AD town up-till the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in parallel with recorded transformations to domestic building. The five insulae under study show a common evolutionary trend. The constant enlargement of the commercial element is accompanied by a fragmentation of the great domus in smaller units which always appear as independent apartments. Within this wider setting, single trajectories reveal the variety of economic choices made by members of the elite faced with the destruction caused by the earthquakes which rocked Herculaneum shortly before Vesuvius' eruption. At the end of this investigation the picture of Herculaneum will appear profoundly changed: far from being a town overran by sellers intent on wreaking havoc of existing social and economic hierarchies, the small centre possessed a commercial and productive landscape with a developing local emphasis which remained in the hands of the local elite throughout the first century AD despite recurring seismic activity.
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Nicolas Monteix. Les lieux de métier. Boutiques et ateliers d'Herculanum. Nicolas Monteix. Ecole française de Rome, pp.i-xiv, 1-480, 2010, Bibliothèque des Ecoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome (fasc. 344); Collection du Centre Jean-Bérard (34), 978-2-7283-0891-0. ⟨halshs-00682311v2⟩

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