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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IX. THE EARLY EMPIRE: THE WORLD UNDER ROMAN RULE, 31 B.C.-l80 A.D.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 18
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN THE FIRST AND SECOND CENTURIES
PROMOTION OF COMMERCE
The first two centuries of our era formed the golden age of Roman commerce. The emperors fostered it in many ways. Augustus and his successors kept the Mediterranean free from pirates, built lighthouses and improved harbors, policed the highways, and made travel by land both speedy and safe. An imperial currency  replaced the various national coinages with their limited circulation. The vexatious import and export duties, levied by different countries and cities on foreign produce, were swept away. Free trade flourished between the cities and provinces of the Roman world.
 For illustrations of Roman coins see the plate facing page 134.
PRINCIPAL TRADE ROUTES
Roman commerce followed, in general, the routes which Phoenicians had discovered centuries before. After the annexation of Gaul the rivers of that country became channels of trade between western Europe and Italy. The conquest of the districts north and south of the Danube opened up an important route between central Europe and the Mediterranean. Imports from the far eastern countries came by caravan through Asia to ports on the Black Sea. The water routes led by way of the Persian Gulf to the great Syrian cities of Antioch and Palmyra and, by way of the Red Sea, to Alexandria on the Nile. From these thriving commercial centers products were shipped to every region of the empire.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy