Ancient Roman Economy
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Ancient Roman Economy

Rome had an extremely large agriculture business and most people in the Roman world were farmers.

Farming and Agriculture

Rome had an extremely large agriculture business and most people in the Roman world were farmers. Some of the farms were owned by rich families who instructed their slaves to work their farms for them or rented the land out to poorer citizens, however most of the farms were owned by civilians who freely worked their own land. Most roman farms produced wheat, barley, olives, grapes, apples, onions and celery. The farmers mostly sold or traded their produce in the markets so that they could get whatever else they needed. They also paid their taxes partly in money and partly with their produce. The farmers mostly lived in small villages near their farm however some of them chose to walk the distance to their farm each morning from a bigger town. In the villages, the inhabitants lived in mud-brick apartment buildings and did their cooking on braziers in the courtyard. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the bigger towns lived in small apartments. There was nowhere to prepare or cook food in the small courtyards so they mostly bought their food from street vendors or take-away shops.

Farming and agriculture ensured their survival through the fact that they were not dependant on another nation or civilization, which may have left Rome stranded. It also meant that the people of Rome stayed fit and strong for when the roman army needed them.


Rich people (and their slaves) mostly lived in the towns. Some of the rich people owned and ran businesses making clothes, tools etc. in factories. Some of the poorer men (poorer meaning more not rich rather than actually poor) in the towns taught schools, were doctors or ran bakeries. The woman of the towns sold goods or services in stores and did spinning or embroidery. Roman houses and structures were mostly made out of mud bricks but some of the more expense ones were made out of marble. Later in Rome’s life Roman architects started using cement and concrete to build their structures. Rome imported many of their pots, vases etc. from other countries on the Mediterranean (especially North Africa).

Stonemasons ensured Rome’s survival because it provided places for the people and army to live. They were also able to use it make life more pleasant for the general population. The spinners or embroiders and the blacksmiths helped ensure Rome’s survival by creating or up-keeping the equipment of the army.


The citizens of Ancient Rome did not just want to buy locally made of sourced products. They also wanted more exotic goods and thanks to traders, they could. The traders sailed across the Mediterranean Sea to nearby countries like Egypt, Phoenicia, Austria, England, North Africa and Spain to bring back goods such as papyrus, glass, salt, tin, cooking pots, and olive oil. Most people could afford these pleasures but the traders also sailed across the Indian Ocean or into West Asia to acquire Indian cotton, pepper, cinnamon, and other spices that they would sell to the richer citizens of Rome. Some of the traders even sailed all the way to China to buy and then re-sell silk.

Trade ensured ancient Rome’s survival through the fact that, if Rome traded with another nation, the other nation was less likely to attack or attempt to conquer because it possibly created an agreement of friendship between the two nations. There was also the possibility though, that the other countries considered Rome rich which would’ve served as a motive to sack Rome.


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