I think I am meant to be responding to a reading post, but there is not another one to respond to, so here is my response to Quantification of fish-salting infrastructure capacity in the Roman World, by Andrew Wilson
In the beginning of this article Wilson writes that the growth and development of the vast salt fishing industry in the Roman Empire can serve as an ‘empire-wide indicator of economic fortunes’ in the Roman world. Wilson acknowledges that the distribution of the fishing industry is uneven, possibly due to a lack of fieldwork in certain areas, such as in the Eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic, where one might expect a larger fishing industry. I found it interesting that around the estuaries of the Tiber there was less evidence of salt fishing because nearer to Rome numerous fishponds were used instead for breeding, in order to get fresh fish to market in Rome. Wilson comments a lot on the need for more information and evidence of factories and vats and points out how ‘crude’ the graph of the capacities of salting factories is, although a basic pattern does emerge. But the vat capacities do not necessarily reflect the output of salted fish. In addition, in many vats evidence of other animal bones were also found, as the process for salting meat was similar whether fish, cow or horse. Another graph for vat capacity over time portrays a rise in construction in the early 1st century AD in all regions, and especially in the Straits of Gibraltar and in Brittany. Therefore, Wilson argues that overall the graphs of capacity by construction period illustrate when investment was most popular for building the commercial meat salting plants, used for production and export, which can give us an insight into the rise and fall of trade in the Roman world. In addition, this gives us a sense of the general levels of salt fish consumption, fish was an important source of protein and only salted meat would last long enough to be imported inland. I think it would be interesting therefore to compare the levels of salt fish production to agricultural productions. Fishing is an industry that relies less on the weather and it would not have been affected by drought. So perhaps when farmers had a bad year for their crops, salt fish trade would have risen. Also if you want to analyse economic trade in the Roman Empire as a whole, surely you would need to assess agricultural trade as well as the meat and fish markets.