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Date of Award

2-1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Classics

Supervisor

Professor K.M.D. Dunbabin

Co-Supervisor

Professor W. Slater

Committee Member

Professor M. George

Abstract

The majority of Gallo-Roman reliefs were published in the early 1900s, and since that time there has been no major study undertaken solely on a peculiarly abundant and striking part of the corpus, namely he scenes of vending depicted on funerary monuments. Scholars have tended to concentrate their efforts on scenes of work in general, both in Gaul and in Italy, where another important series of work scenes is found, including vending scenes. Therefore, this thesis focuses on 61 Gallo-Roman reliefs depicting the sale or display of merchandise such as clothing, food, wine and specialty products. These transactions often take place in small, shop-like settings, consisting of a counter, and sometimes shelves or display racks. The analysis of the iconography of the vending scenes is of central importance to our understanding of the various occupational roles of the merchants, who range from small scale shop-keepers to commercial wholesalers of products. As many of the reliefs are in relatively poor condition, the comparanda from the Italian series of vending scenes, epigraphic parallels, archaeological finds and literary sources are essential in dealing with problems of interpretation. One problem to be resolved is how closely the Gallo-Roman vending scenes follow the Italian models. Another problem concerns the visual and verbal evidence for the legal and social status of Gallo-Roman vendors. Where did these vendors fit into Gallo-Roman society? Additionally, what do the products displayed in these reliefs reveal about the economy of Roman Gaul? It is the intent of this thesis to demonstrate that the vendors wished to present themselves on their tombs in ways to show that they achieved prosperity and a relatively comfortable status in life through their endeavours in commerce and trade. The best evidence for the actual success of these vendors is given by the large, costly tombs upon which some of the vending scenes are carved.

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