chapter  8
14 Pages

Inland waterways

The role of river transport and the construction of canals in the Roman empire is something that remains largely ignored by scholars involved in the study of the ancient economy. River transport was dismissed as unimportant for the most part by Brunt (1971: 180) since the flow of most Italian rivers was seasonal and erratic to an extent that significantly hindered transportation. In contrast, Italian scholars have pointed to the importance of the Tiber and the Po for the transportation of goods (see e.g. Quilici 1986 on the Tiber or Uggeri 1990a on the Po). These two opposing viewpoints need to be assessed in the light of the argument in the previous chapter that transport by land complemented the movement of goods by river and sea. Also, we need to examine the economics of river transportation in the light of Cato’s advice (R.R. 1.3) that estates should be bought near a town, the sea, a navigable river or a well-travelled road.