Macella : permanent market buildings in Roman Italy from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE
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A Roman macellum was a place of daily interaction for many people of varied economic status, citizenship, age, gender, and social role. Defined architecturally by an enclosure with shops on some or all sides, a central open court, and often a tholos, it is conventionally characterized as a luxury meat and fish market. While at least thirty-seven macella operated in Roman Italy—and perhaps as many as three at once in Rome—scholars have generally assessed macella as a type or as single buildings isolated from their surroundings, though each structure played a distinct role in its local and regional economy and social, religious, and political cultures. My study focuses on thirteen macella in the modern state of Italy dating from the third century BCE to the third century CE. I select case studies for which there are sufficient literary and architectural remains to reconstruct building plans and occupational history, and my narrow geographical focus allows for micro- and regional-scale analysis. Investigating the built spaces in which the daily economic activity of Roman cities took place, I examine the macellum themselves and also broader questions about how commerce shaped and was shaped by the environment in which it was enacted.