Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

8/1/2004 - 4/30/2005

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

The Economy of Aila: A Roman Port on the Red Sea

FAIN: FB-50428-04

S. Thomas Parker
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC 27695-0001)

Recent scholarship on the Roman Empire has increasingly focused on its economy. The long accepted view of an "underdeveloped" economy of near-subsistence agriculture with minimal trade and industry has increasingly been questioned. New archaeological evidence suggests a much more complex economy, with mass markets and thus a significant role for trade and industry. In order to contribute to this debate, the applicant between 1994 and 2002 directed the Roman Aqaba Project, an archaeological investigation of the Roman port of Aila on the Red Sea. The goal was to reconstruct Aila's economy between the 1st century B.C. and 7th century A.D., and thus produce new evidence about the empire's economy, especially its trade. With fieldwork now complete, the applicant seeks a fellowship to write the final report of this project, which will synthesize a diverse array of material cultural evidence with relevant documentary sources. Reconstructing the economy of one of the great international ports of the Roman Empire should be a significant contribution to this scholarly debate.