Emporium (antiquity)

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In antiquity, an emporion (Greek) or emporium (Latin; the plural is emporia in both languages) was a place which the traders of one nation had reserved to their business interests within the territory of another nation.[citation needed] Famous emporia include Sais, where Solon went to acquire the knowledge of Egypt; Elim, where Hatshepsut kept her Red Sea fleet; Elat, where Thebes was supplied with mortuary materials, linen, bitumen, naphtha, frankincense, myrrh and carved stone amulets from Palestine, Canaan, Aram, Lebanon, Amon, Hazor, Moab, Edom, Punt and the Arabian Peninsula from Petra to Midian; and Olbia, which exported cereals, fish and slaves.

Emporia functioned much like European trading colonies in China.

In ancient Greek it referred both to the various Greek and Phoenician city-states and trading posts in Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Britain, and the Arabian Peninsula. Included in this term were cities like Avaris and Syene in Lower Egypt, Thebes in Upper Egypt and the Red Sea ports of Elim and Elat. For the Hittites, it included Kanesh and Kadesh. For Phoenicia, it included Gadges, Carthage, Lepcis Magna, and Cyrene, among others (although Cyrene was originally founded by Greeks).

See also[edit]


  • Septimius Severus; The African Emperor, Anthony R. Birley, pgs. 1-7