New maritime trade under Augustus
Scholarship widely recognizes the reign of Augustus (30 BCE – 14 CE) as a time of heightened economic development for Rome, mostly credited as a fortunate by-product of the pax augusta that resulted from a lack of wars, civil and foreign. However, the Augustan government took a far more active role in ensuring economic prosperity for the Roman citizens during this time. The crux of this thesis posits that the economic ‘boom’ which happened under Augustus has the expansion of maritime trade as one factor. Having newly captured territory in the form of the Roman province of Egypt provided access to the Red Sea, which allowed the Romans to utilize the trade routes therefrom and create economic relationships with new trading partners. In particular, the Roman economy established trade routes to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean trade spheres, allowing for the establishment of relationships with new trading partners and the import of new goods, including luxury products. Changes to laws and improvements in infrastructure facilitated mercantile investments, while diplomatic relations with Arabia, India, and minor kingdoms maintained a hospitable trading environment for Roman merchants and their proxies. Upgrades to Rome’s existing ports ensured they would be able to accommodate the increases in imports and exports. The combined result of these changes means that the Augustan regime created the conditions for an expanding and more diversified economy.
Roman trade, trade, maritime, early Roman empire, Augustus, trade routes, Roman Egypt, imports, exports, early Roman economy