Ancient Maritime Trade


Merchant ships have been sailing the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea for 5000 years, gradually leading to a ‘Mediterranisation’ of the economy. Today’s globalised economy extends across the whole planet.

Goods (also called ‘commodities’) have always been shipped either as loose units or as dry or liquid bulk. Ancient units were amphorae, dolia, barrels and sacks that could be placed on a ship, a cart, a camel or a donkey[0]. Until 100 years ago, this cargo, called ‘break bulk’, had to be loaded on board almost individually. Wooden ‘pallets’ moved by forklifts were introduced during World War II. They were quickly followed by larger ‘containers’ made of steel providing better protection and easier transportation as they could be placed on a ship (sea and river), a train and a truck. As a matter of fact, containers opened the way to ‘globalisation’.

Containers were standardised to optimise storage on land, and on board ships and trucks. This aim has been achieved quite well in modern times (so far), taking around 50 years to reach right around the planet, but was not achieved in ancient times, since many different types of amphorae were used across the Mediterranean area, which is fortunate as it enabled experts in ‘amphorology’ to determine where and when amphorae found in wrecks were made.

Many different types of amphorae have been identified, depending on their date and place of production. The first amphorae were used for transporting wine and date from around 350 BC (the so-called ‘Greco-Italic‘ type). Millions of them were produced, especially during the Roman Empire.

A full amphora quadrantal (containing olive oil, wine or fish sauce) weights around 50 kg, around half of which is the tare. It should be noted that Egyptian grain was transported in sacks weighing one Ptolemaic artaba (39 litres) with a unit weight of wheat of ca. 30 kg. It should also be noted that wooden oak barrels (500 to 1000 litres) gradually took over from amphorae (and dolia) for storing wine during the Roman Empire.

Amphorae and other goods were unloaded by ship-to-ship transfer from larger to smaller ships, or by beaching the ship, or by stevedores in large ports with adequate infrastructure. Following measurement, the goods were stored in warehouses (horrea).

The impressive Monte Testaccio dump in Rome contains over 50 million amphorae, mainly Spanish and North African Dressel 20 olive oil amphorae. Perhaps, these amphorae were too fatty and the smell of rancid oil prevented any further use, as a result of which they were disposed of. An internal coating of vegetal pitch was used to seal the walls of wine and garum amphorae, but not for oil amphorae because oil dissolves the pitch and would thus become unsuitable for consumption[12]. Hence, pitched amphorae could be reused, but unpitched oil amphorae could not.

As wine amphorae were not dumped in such large numbers, one might think they were reused, but as Pena (2021) puts it, “in the current state of our knowledge, it seems fair to say that the evidence for the reuse of amphoras as packaging containers in the Roman world is scattered, uneven, and less than substantial.”[13].

Why trade?!

In order to provide your country’s consumers with the goods they wish, you need to import some of them and to pay foreign producers for the goods and for their transportation. The required money can be obtained by exporting your own goods and services.
Roman individuals could export Roman goods as a return cargo when sailing back to foreign countries. The Roman state could provide the ‘service’ of military protection of provinces within the empire, receiving a tribute for this service. However, the main Roman export was gold and silver bullion used for payment of imported goods!

How trade?

Trust between buyers and sellers is required, hence regular trading contacts are necessary, and therefore repetition of trade routes. To be ‘professional’, you need to specialise: choose your goods, choose your trade cities and routes, choose your trade contacts[1]. That will be ‘your’ trade network. The nodes of each network may be large inter-regional ports (‘hubs’) or smaller regional, or even local, ports.

Trade hubs

According to Wikipedia, a hub is the central part of a wheel that connects the axle to the wheel itself. Many expressions use the term for a literal or figurative central structure connecting to a periphery. A transport hub is a place where cargo is exchanged from one transport mode to another. With the growth of containerisation, intermodal freight transport has become more efficient.

Today, there are several major nodal points for maritime traffic which are related to the network of main streams of traffic:

  • consumer goods transported in containers from China, Korea and Japan to Europe via the Suez Canal and to the US west coast via the Pacific Ocean;
  • energy such as oil, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) transported in bulk from the Middle East, to China, Korea and Japan and many other countries;
  • other raw materials such as coal and iron ore are also transported in bulk from Africa, Australia and South America to many countries.

The major nodal points, now called ‘hubs’, are therefore located in Europe (Rotterdam, Hamburg), in USA (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, New Orleans), in Asia, (Shanghai, Hong Kong, Busan, Yokohama, Singapore)[2].

Alexandria was the “greatest emporium of the world”, acc. to Strabo (Geogr. 17, 1, 13): Goods were imported from, and exported to, South Arabia, East Africa and India[3], and paid for with gold and silver bullion; they were taxed at 25% by the Roman state, thereby providing a substantial part of its total income:

  • Some goods, such as perfumes and dyed silk, were transformed and manufactured in Alexandria, thereby adding great value to the imported goods;
  • Goods were exported to Rome and other cities of the empire: not only exotic spices and goods from beyond the Red Sea, but also vast quantities of grain produced in Egypt.

Alexandria was a hub of the Roman economy. Additional nodes of a large-mesh Roman trade network might be located at Gades (Baetica, for garum, salted fish, olive oil) and at Carthago (Proconsular Africa, for wheat and olive oil). This coarse network shows 3 lines converging on Rome. The question is whether finer-mesh networks might be added to the coarse one by including nodal points of smaller importance[4].

Data base analysis

Let’s elaborate on this with an analysis of our database on ancient ports: we know of nearly 6000 ancient coastal settlements, out of which around 2000 are explicitly mentioned as ports by ancient authors:

Ancient ports mentioned explicitly by at least one ancient author.
This map has no pretention of precision; it just intends to show concentrations of ports; more accurate locations are available on Google Earth maps shown on:

A corpus of 87 ancient authors from 1500 BC to 500 AD has been analysed, searching for the word ‘port’ in the 19th c. French translations available on the web (mainly, (see Volume II, Citations). Each author is counted only once for each port, even if he mentioned the port several times in several books or chapters.

Obviously, various reasons motivated ancient authors to mention these ports: historical (military, naval), commercial (trade, emporia), geographical (description of land and peoples) or sailors following the coasts. In the picture above, trips like those of Arrian on the Black Sea or the Stadiasmus can nearly be distinguished.
Furthermore, ancient authors may sometimes have been somewhat egocentric when describing only their own part of the world, like Pausanias in Greece, which may have led to ‘zooming’ effects in some areas.
Conversely, some areas were not much mentioned by ancient authors, like Hispania, Lusitania, Gaul, and it cannot be said if that is because there were no ports (which is surely untrue) or because these somewhat remote areas were of lesser interest to ancient Greek and Roman authors. Anyway, a concentration of ports mentioned by ancient authors can be seen around the Aegean Sea.

Further analysis of the data base shows:
Nearly 1000 ports are mentioned by only one ancient author.
Nearly 300 are mentioned by two ancient authors.

Detailed results of the database analysis.

Nearly 100 ports are mentioned by five or more ancient authors. These places are listed below in a clockwise ranking around the Mediterranean, with the number of authors mentioning it in brackets:

  • Hibernia (Isle of Ireland) (5)
  • Gades (5)
  • Carthago Nova (5)
  • Massalia (5)
  • Monoeci (Monaco) (5)
  • Portus Pisanus (6)
  • Aithalia (Isle of Elba) (5)
  • Portus Augusti Ostiensis (over 10) and Ostia (7)
  • Antium (5)
  • Caiete (5)
  • Misenum (6) and Puteoli (5)
  • Rhegium (7)
  • Zankle (Messina) (9)
  • Syracuse (over 10)
  • Crotone (5)
  • Lilybaion (5)
  • Tarentum (7)
  • Hydruntum (Otrante) (6)
  • Brindes (9)
  • Corcyra (8) and Casiope (5) (Isle of Corfu)
  • Glykys Limen (5)
  • Nisea (5)
  • Kytlene (5)
  • Pylos (5)
  • Gytheion (7)
  • Skandeia (Isle of Kythera) (7)
  • Nauplia-Argos (5)
  • Lechaion-Corinth (10) and Sicyon (8)
  • Kenchreai-Corinth (over 10)
  • Salamis (Isle of Salamis) (6)
  • Piraeus (over 10)
  • Phaleron (7) and Munychia (5)
  • Aegina (6)
  • Aulis (6), Chalkis (5) and Eretria (5) (Isle of Evia)
  • Thasos (Isle of Thasos) (5)
  • Abydos (10) and Sestos (6)
  • Byzantium (6)
  • Portus Symbolorum (Crimea) (5)
  • Sindicos (Anapa) (5)
  • Sinop (6) and Armene (5)
  • Calpe (5)
  • Cyzikos (5)
  • Sigeion (5)
  • Delos (Isle of Delos) (10)
  • Naxos (Isle of Naxos) (5)
  • Tenedos (Isle of Tenedos) (8) and Troy (6)
  • Mytilene (Isle of Lesbos) (over 10)
  • Phokeia (6)
  • Elaia (5)
  • Chios (Isle of Chios) (over 10)
  • Ephesus (10)
  • Pythagoreion (isle of Samos) (over 10)
  • Miletos (9)
  • Kos (Isle of Kos) (5)
  • Knidos (7)
  • Rhodes (over 10)
  • Kaunos (5)
  • Patara (8)
  • Korikos (Kizkalesi) (5)
  • Phaselis (5)
  • Paphos (Isle of Cyprus) (5)
  • Salamis (Isle ofCyprus) (5)
  • Sidon (6)
  • Tyr (6)
  • Alexandria (over 10)
  • Paretonius (5),
  • Menelaus (5),
  • Neapolis-Leptis (5)
  • Cercenna (6)
  • Carthago (8) and Utica (5)
  • Melite (Isle of Malta) (6)

The listed places are shown on the map below (green dots) together with the four ‘main hubs’ (black dots). The listed places are fairly concentrated in an area between Rome and Rhodes covering the southern part of Italy, Greece, the Aegean Sea and Asia Minor. It cannot be denied that this area was the most active area both for trade and for naval operations during a millennium from the 5th c. BC to the 5th c. AD.

Note that no time frame was defined, hence Greek hubs of the 5th c. BC are mixed with imperial Roman hubs of the 1st c. AD. Had we restricted the time frame to e.g. the 6th to 4th c. BC, we would have seen Piraeus (over 10), Emporion (Spain) (4), and Naucratis (Egypt) (1) as main hubs. Had we taken the 3rd and 2nd c. BC, we would have mentioned Delos (10).

Trade networks in the Roman Mediterranean Sea: Black dots are main hubs: Rome, Alexandria, Carthage, Gades; Green dots are explicitly mentioned as ports by five or more ancient authors.

It must be admitted that the above approach based on the number of ancient authors mentioning places does not show the trade networks we would expect intuitively because major cities are missing (Tarraco, Narbo, places on the Adriatic, on the Black Sea, in northern Africa).

Foundation of coastal settlements

Out of nearly 6000 coastal settlements, around 4000 places were listed with an approximate foundation date (see Volume I, The Catalogue). Let’s consider the time frame from 5000 BC to 333 AD and subdivide it in periods of 333 years roughly corresponding to the main historical periods. The number of new settlements founded in each period of 333 years is taken from the data base and divided by 3.33 in order to obtain the number of new settlements per century.
The resulting table below shows that the Hellenistic period (schematised from 332 BC to 0 and centred on 166 BC) yields the largest number of new settlements/century (436). A gradual increase of this number starts around 1000 BC at the end of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) when Phoenician, Greek and Hellenistic civilisations emerged. A decline is seen in the Roman period which shows that less new places were created, possibly because ‘good places’ were already in use and further developed by the Romans.

Detailed results of the database analysis

Note a threshold effect at 3000 BC, as places were dated “3000” instead of “2999”. Anyway, a small concentration of new settlements is noted in the Early Egyptian period. After that, a trend of 10 to 20 new settlements per century continued until ca. 1000 BC.

Imported goods

How can we further study these networks? We may look into shipping, we may distinguish different historical periods, we may search ancient texts … we may study commodities[10], i.e. try to find out from where they come and where they go (mostly to Rome!).

A literature survey yielded the following:

white marble,
Italy (Luna, Volterra), Spain (Ebro valley), Attica (Mount Pentelikon), Naxos, Thasos, Marmara
graniteFrance i.a.
obsidianAnatolia (central & eastern), Melos, Gyali, Pantelleria, Sardinia (Mt Arci), Lipari, Ponza (Palmarola)
turquoiseSinai (Wadi Maghara, Serabit el-Khadim)
lapis lazuliSyria (from Afghanistan/Bactria)
malachiteCairo (Maadi), Negev (Timna)
amethystAswan (Wadi el-Hudi)
topazRed Sea (St. John’s Island)
Metals (ingots): 
gold   (& electrum)Ireland (Wicklow Mountain), Britain (Dolaucothi), France (Limousin, Vaulry), Spain NW (Laza, Caurel-Quiroga, Los Ancares, Las Médulas-Teleno-Maragateria-Llamas de Cabrera, Villablino-Las Omanas, Ibias-Tineo, Rio Carrion), Lusitania (Valongo Paredes, Tres Minas-Jales-Boticas), Dalmatia (Crvena Zemlja, Mracaj), Thrace (Pautalia), Dacia (many places around Rosia Montana in Transylvania), Georgia (R Phase), Turkey (Bakla Tepe NW of Ephesos), Cyprus, Nubia
silverBritain (Charterhouse), Lusitania (Aljustrel), Spain (Rio Tinto, Palazuelos, Diogenes, Malaga, Cartagena, Linares), Sardinia (Iglesiente, Domusnovas), Carthage, Dalmatia (Srebrenica), Attica (Laurion), Thrace (Pautalia), Turkey (Ordu, Lesbos, Troad, Milet, Bodrum, Mersin)
copperIreland (Great Orme, Ross Island, Cork, Wicklow), Britain (Beauport Park, Llanymynech, Nantyrarian), Asturias (Aramo), Lusitania (Aljustrel, Sto Estevao), Huelva (Rio Tinto, Sotiel Coronado), Dalmatia (Majdanpek, Belovode), Attica (Laurion), Thrace (Pautalia, Burgas), Turkey (Trabzon area), Petra (wadi Feynan), Negev (Timna valley, wadi Arabah), Cyprus (Kalavasos, Soli & Skouriotissa), Algeria
tin (cassiterite)Cornwall (Ictis), France (Ploermel), Spain (Laza), Germany (Erzgebirge), Tuscany (Mte Rombolo & Valerio), Dalmatia (Mt Cer), Turkey (Uludag near Bursa, Bakla Tepe NW of Ephesos, Mersin area: Kestel/Göltepe mines)? Syria (from NW Iran & Afghanistan/Bactria)?
leadBritain (Charterhouse, Cornwall), Aquitaine, Spain (Galicia, Palazuelos, Diogenes, Cartagena, Linares), Sardinia (Iglesiente, Domusnovas), Algeria (Arksib, Denaïra), Dalmatia (Srebrenica), Attica (Laurion), Turkey (Mersin area)
ironBritain (Sussex, Cornwall, Great Doward), Aquitaine, Galicia, Algeria, Elba, Dalmatia, Attica (Laurion), Trabzon, Cyprus (Mitsero)
raw glassEgypt (wadi Natrun, Taposiris), Israel (near Dor),
and potential places in Italy (beach Piombino-Follonica, beach Policoro-Metaponto, beaches Brindisi-Torre Rinalda), in Spain (outlet of R Guadiana, beach of Aguilas near Cartagena), and in France (Bay of Hyeres)
cedarPhoenicia (Byblos)
papyrusEgypt (via Byblos)
Ceramics, terracotta: 
tiles (tegulae-imbrices)export only
bricksexport only
oil lampsTunisia (Carthage)
wheatAlexandria, Tunisia, Sicily
wineGreece, Gaul (Rhone valley, Bordeaux), Spain (Tarraconensis, Baetica), Tunisia (Carthage), Levant (Byblos, Gaza), Cyprus, Crete, Aegean (Skopelos, Chios, Samos, Naxos, Thera), Sardinia? Black Sea, Dalmatia, Istria
defrutum, siraion, epsima (reduced fruit must)Baetica, Cyprus?
Garum, liquamen (fish sauces) & salsamenta, tarichos (salted fish)Baetica (Cadix, Cartagena), Lusitania (Lisbon, Troia), Morocco (Lixus, Cotta), Tunisia (Carthage, Nabeul), Gaul (Mareille, Antibes), Libya (Leptis Magna), Black Sea (Crimea, Bithynia)
olive oilIstria, Dalmatia, Sicily, Sardinia, Attica, Samos, Turkey (Ionia, Cilicia), Cyprus, Crete, Levant (Syria, Phoenicia, Canaan), Cyrenaica, North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco), Baetica (Cadix)
pepperIndia (Muziris on Malabar coast)
India (by sea via Socotra, and overland via Syria)
ivoryPunt (Red Sea), India
perlsRed Sea, Persian Gulf
fashioned glassDalmatia (Zadar), Germany (Trier), Phoenicia (Sidon), Alexandria
silk & cottonKos, China & India (via Alexandria, Carthage?)
linenSpain (Xativa)
purple dyeLesbos, Rhodes, Phoenicia (Tyre, Sarepta, Sidon), Tunisia (Jerba, Kerkouane, Carthage), Sicily (Motya), Morocco (Essaouira)
(& myrrh)
Punt (Red Sea), Somalia (Heis, Bosaso), Oman (Salalah)
perfumeAlexandria, Cyprus (Kato Pyrgos)
ebony, hbonyPunt (Red Sea), Nubia
amberBaltic (overland/rivers to Olbia-Borysthenes, to Hatria & Aquileia, to Marseille)
bronze artworkGreece
marble artworkGreece
terra sigillata, African Red Slip, finewareGreece (Attic), Tunisia (Sidi Bouzid area)
slaves Delos i.a.

We can summarise this result per country:

Exporting countryGoods imported by Romans
GB & Irelandmetals
Lusitania & Baeticametals, olive oil, garum, wine, defrutum
Cartagenametals, linen
Tarracometals from Galicia, marble, wine
Gaul (Narbo, Massalia)metals from UK & Germany, glass from Germany, amber from Baltic, wine, garum
Tuscany & Elbametals, marble
Sicily & Lipariwheat, obsidian, olive oil, purple dye
Hatria & Aquileiaamber from Baltic
Istria & Dalmatiametals, olive oil, wine, fashioned glass
Greecesilver & copper at Laurion, marble, olive oil, wine, bronze & marble artwork, ceramics
Dacia (Transylvania)metals
Borysthenes & Crimea & Tanaiswheat, garum, amber from Baltic
Georgia (R Phase)gold
Anatolia (Trabzon, Nicomedia, Ephesos, Attaleia, Mersin)metals, obsidian, olive oil
Marmara Seamarble
Lesbospurple dye
Peparethos (Skopelos)wine
Keos (Kea)silver, lead
Naxosmarble, silver, lead, wine
Koufonisiasilver, lead
Siphnosgold, silver, lead (exhausted in Roman times)
Samosolive oil, wine
Thera (Santorini)wine
Rhodespurple dye
Creteolive oil, wine
Cyprusmetals, olive oil, wine, perfume
Cilicia (Mersin)metals
Syria (NW Iran & Afghan./Bactria)tin, lapis lazuli
Levanttimber, metals, raw glass & fashioned glass, purple dye, olive oil, wine at Gaza, gems & perls & spices from Red Sea & Gulf/India
Egypt & Sinaiwheat, papyrus, metals & ebony from Nubia, gems, glass, ivory & silk & cotton & incense & spices from Red Sea/India
Libyagarum at Leptis Magna, olive oil in Cyrenaica
Tunisiawheat, olive oil, garum, wine, purple dye, ceramics
Sardiniasilver, obsidian, olive oil
Algeriametals, olive oil
Moroccogarum, olive oil, purple dye

These tables are probably incomplete. Please help!

Similar studies can be conducted for other cultures: Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, etc. Results are provided in the xls table.

Realise that this result includes only primary imports, i.e. goods needed by the peoples for their own consumption, but does not take into account imports aimed at being re-exported, possibly after some manufacturing. Hence, this is only a first step towards a better understanding of ancient trade networks.

Further to the above-mentioned overview of ancient trades, the following hubs might be defined:

Trade networks in the Roman Mediterranean Sea: Black dots are main hubs: Rome, Alexandria, Carthage, Gades; Red dots are regional hubs.

In addition to the four main hubs, the above survey of Roman imports provides a series of ‘regional hubs’, including Carthago Nova, Tarraco[5], Narbo[6], Arelate[7], Puteoli, Syracusa, Aquileia, Athens, Byzantium, Tomis, Crimea, the Tanaïs river area, Nicomedia[8],  Ephesus, Rhodes, Attaleia[9], Cyprus, Antioch ad Orontem/Seleucia Pieria, Gaza (if it was more than a place of transit such as Myos Hormos and Berenike), Apollonia of Cyrene, Caesarea Mauretania, Lixus.

In addition to Indian places such as Muziris (Pattanam, north of Cochin), lesser known places such as Omana (possibly located at al-Dur, ed-Dur, in Umm al-Quwain Emirate) and Tylos (Bahrain) should be mentioned here too, in order not to under-estimate ancient traffic in the Gulf to Palmyra and Antioch[11].

A pattern of imbricated networks could be refined almost indefinitely as each regional hub may have its own trade with its hinterland and other nearby smaller ports. Like a fractal that exhibits a repeating pattern displayed at every scale.

Some trade routes

Sailing from cape to cape (cabotage) is the most obvious route for any seafarer, except for those sailing a direct route on offshore waters.

Amber from BalticR Daugava, R Dniepr, Borysthenes, Bosphorus
 R Vistula & R Oder, R Morava, Carnuntum (near Vienna), R Danube, Bosphorus
 R Vistula & R Oder, R Morava, Carnuntum (near Vienna), Aquileia, Adriatic, Delphi & Corinth & Mycenae, Crete, Levant & Egypt & Cyrene
 R Elbe, Prague, Brenner pass, Aquileia, Adriatic, Delphi & Corinth & Mycenae, Crete, Levant & Egypt & Cyrene
 R Rhine, Basilia (Basel), R Doubs/Saône/Rhône, Massalia (NB: Basel has same Latin name as Samland: coïncidence? Ships from Samland arrived at Basel …)
 R Rhine, R Danube, Bosphorus
Tin from GBIctis, La Coruna, Gades
 Ictis, Burdigala, Narbo
 Ictis (?), R Seine (?), R Saône/Rhône, Massalia
Tin from ArmoricaPoërmel, R Oust, R Villaine, Pénestin (?), Burdigala, Narbo
Tin from GaliciaLaza, R Ebro, Tarraco
 Laza, R Sil, R Mino, Ourense, Gibraltar
Tin from AnatoliaUludag near Bursa, Bakla Tepe NW of Ephesos, Mersin area: Kestel/Göltepe mines, Anchialeia, Rhodes & Levant
Tin from NW IranAntioch, Rhodes & Levant
Incense from DhofarMoscha area (Salalah), Shabwa, Najran, Mecca, Medina, Petra, Gaza (100% overland)
 Moscha area (Salalah), Qana, Leuke Kome (al-Wajh?), Hegra (Mada’in Saleh), Petra, Gaza (25% overland)
 Moscha area (Salalah), Qana, Berenike or Myos Hormos, Coptos, Alexandria (25% overland/river)
 Moscha area (Salalah), Hormuz, Babylon, Antioch (35% overland/river)
Incense from SomaliaMundus-Mosylium area (Heis-Bosaso), Nubia, Coptos, Alexandria (100% overland/river)
 Mundus-Mosylium area (Heis-Bosaso), Berenike or Myos Hormos, Coptos, Alexandria (30% overland/river)


[0] DE GRAAUW, A., 2017, “From Amphora to TEU: Journey of a container – An engineer’s perspective”, Portus Limen Project workshop, Rome, January 2017.

[1] ARNAUD, P., 2012, “La mer, vecteur des mobilités grecques”, in “Mobilités grecques”, Capdetrey & Zurbach (edt.), Scripta Antiqua 46,Ausonius, Bordeaux, (p 89-135).

[2] DUCRUET, C., 2015, “Inside the pond: an analysis of Northeast Asia’s long-term maritime dynamics”, International Journal of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Korea Maritime Institute, 2015, 7 (2), pp.25-40.

[3] ARNAUD, P., 2015c, “ La batellerie de fret nilotique d’après la documentation papyrologique (300 avant J.-C.-400 après J.-C.) ”, in La batellerie égyptienne, Archéologie, histoire, ethnographie, éd. P. Pomey, Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines, 34 – 2015: Kerkouros-type ships were sailing and rowing southward on the Nile in winter time, at least during the Hellenistic period.

[4] BRAUDEL, F., 1949, “La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II”, éd. Armand Colin, Paris, (533 p) : he distinguishes various basins: “La Méditerranée n’est pas une mer, mais une succession de plaines liquides communiquant entre elles par des portes plus ou moins larges.” Each basin is the result of human cultures superimposed upon physical constraints, with continuous changes always going on.
See also: ARNAUD, P., 2005, “Les routes de la navigation antique”, éd. Errance, Paris, (248 p),
and: STONE, D., 2014, “Africa in the Roman Empire: Connectivity, the Economy and Artificial Port Structures”, American Journal of Archaeology, 118(4), (p 565-600).

[5] Tarraco may have been the exporting place for metals from the north-western Tarraconensis (Galicia).

[6] Narbo may have been a place of transit of metals from Great Britain sailing to Burdigala.

[7] Arelate may have been a place of transit for goods originating in northern Europe.

[8] Byzantion and Nicomedia were both ancient Greek cities, but they were on each side of the Bosphorus, on different continents: Thracia on the western side, was rather undeveloped, and Asia Minor on the southern side, was highly developed since many centuries. Nicomedia was a major Roman city in the 2nd and 3rd c. AD, while Byzantium was reconstructing after Septimus Severus’ destructions in 195 AD and finally heading for becoming a capital city when renamed Constantinopolis as late as 330 AD.

[9] Pergé was part of the Roman Empire since 188 BC and was the capital city of Pamphylia. It had its own river port some 16 km from the sea, but the seaport of Attaleia could be used when the coast was free of pirates.

[10] RICE, C., 2016, “Shipwreck cargoes in the western Mediterranean and the organization of Roman maritime trade”, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 29.
RICE, C., 2011, “Ceramic assemblages and ports”, in Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean, edt. D. Robinson & A. Wilson, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monographs.
BOETTO, G., 2012, “Les épaves comme sources pour l’étude de la navigation et des routes commerciales:
une approche méthodologique”, in: Rome, Portus and the Mediterranean, edt. S. Keay, British School at Rome, Oxbow Books.
GARNIER, N., 2023, “Usines à salaisons de Baelo Claudia (Andalousie, Espagne), un garum aux huîtres dans l’Antiquité tardive”, Les Nouvelles de l’Achéologie, N° 173, Septembre 2023, (p 30-34).

[11] SCHÖRLE, K., 2017, “Palmyrene merchant networks and economic integration in competitive markets”, in “Sinews of Empire”, ed. Teigen & Seland, Oxbow Books, (p 147-154).

[12] ANDRÉ, J., 1964, “La résine et la poix dans l’antiquité. Technique et terminologie”, in L’antiquité classique, Tome 33, fasc. 1, 1964. (p 86-97).

[13] PENA, J. Th., 2021, “The reuse of transport amphoras as packaging containers in the Roman world: an overview”, in “Roman Amphora Contents Reflecting on the Maritime Trade of Foodstuffs in Antiquity”, Cadiz, 2015, (22 p).