Ancient Rome’s Global Economy

Ancient Rome's Global Economy

1st Century CE

In the 1st century CE, the Roman Empire spanned an area from the Persian Gulf westward to Spain and Britain and from the Rhine frontier in Germany southward to the Sahara Desert. The Empire encompassed the entire perimeter of the Mediterranean basin, while its trade networks extended to Bactria (central Asia), India, Arabia, and Nubia (area along the Nile).

Rome 100CE
Roman Empire


Global Economy

Roman expansion began in the 3rd century BCE, but the high-water mark for imperialism was the reign of Augustus (29 BCE-14 CE). Nonetheless, the empire continued to expand throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. The result was a “global economy,” or at least the closest to one that can be imagined for the ancient Western world.

The Greek term often used to refer to the empire was oikoumene, often translated as “world”. From it we get the English word “economy,” but it originally carried the sense of “the managed realm.” From a Roman perspective, fit meant “the world we inhabit and control” – in other words, the Roman empire.

From Jesus to Christianity
From Jesus to Christianity

L. Michael White

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