Maritime Exchange between Italy and Gaul in Late Antiquity and its Mediterranean Contexts

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Simon Loseby


This paper looks at traffic across the northern Tyrrhenian Sea in late antiquity first from the perspective of travel and communications, and then in more detail at the movement of goods. Although maritime links between Italy and Gaul remained routine from c. 400-c. 700, textual and archaeological evidence for the shipment of Italian merchandise to Gaul, or vice versa, remains quite scarce. Such traffic can, however, be set within the wider context of the involvement of the two regions in the interregional Mediterranean exchange-system. This allows us to consider how far the shipment of goods from North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean to Gaul may have been mediated through Italian ports, and to explore some of the different ways in which these same imports have often been perceived within the historiography of Merovingian Gaul and Byzantine Italy.

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