• Denise Demetriou
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_932-2


An emporion, usually translated into English as commercial settlement, trading post, or port-of-trade, was a location where commercial exchange took place. Archaic and classical sources name 24 Greek emporia and Hellenistic and Roman sources mention over 100 different sites that they call emporia. The sites can be found throughout the Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea region. Ancient sources do not provide a great deal of information on what emporia were and few named emporia have been excavated extensively. Consequently, it has been difficult to define the term “emporion.”


The most comprehensive analysis thus far compares the language ancient sources used to describe emporia with what we know about these settlements from other literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources (Hansen 2006). This interdisciplinary approach has shown that an emporion was a coastal location where commercial exchange took place in self-governing poleis(city-states). When...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bresson, A. 1993. Les cités grecques et leurs emporia. In L’emporion, ed. A. Bresson and P. Rouillard, 163–226. Paris: Diffusions de Boccard.Google Scholar
  2. Bresson, A. 2016. The making of the ancient Greek economy: Institutions, markets, and growth in the city-states Trans. Steven Rendall. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. De Angelis, F. 2002. Trade and agriculture at Megara Hyblaia. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 21 (3): 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Demetriou, D. 2011. What is an emporion? A reassessment. Historia 60 (3): 255–272.Google Scholar
  5. Demetriou, D. 2012. Negotiating identity in the ancient Mediterranean: The archaic and classical Greek multiethnic emporia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Figueira, T.J. 1984. Karl Polanyi and ancient Greek trade: The port of trade. Ancient Word 10: 15–40.Google Scholar
  7. Gailledrat, E. 2015. New perspectives on emporia in the Western Mediterranean: Greeks, Etruscans, and native populations at the mouth of the Lez (Hérault, France) during the sixth-fifth centuries BC. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 28 (1): 23–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garland, R. 2001. The Piraeus: From the fifth to the first century BC. 2nd ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Greco, E. 1994. Pithekoussai: empório o apoikía. Annali dell’Istituto universitario orientali di Napoli (Archeology) 1: 11–18.Google Scholar
  10. Gwynn, A. 1918. The character of Greek colonisation. Journal of Hellenic Studies 38: 88–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hansen, M.H. 2006. Emporion: A study of the use and meaning of the term in the archaic and classical periods. In Greek colonisation: An account of Greek colonies and other settlements overseas, ed. G. Tsetskhladze, vol. 1, 1–39. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  12. Kloppenborg, J.S., and R.S. Ascough. 2011. Greco-Roman associations: Texts, translations, and commentary. Vol. 1. Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, Thrace. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lepore, E. 1968. Per una fenomenologia storica del rapporto città-territorio in Magna Grecia. In La città e il suo territorio. Atti dal VII convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia, 29–66. Naples: L’Arte Tipogragfica.Google Scholar
  14. Lovén, B. 2011. The ancient harbours of the Piraeus. Vol. 1.1. The Zea shipsheds and slipways: Architecture and topography, Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 15.1. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Möller, A. 2000. Naukratis: Trade in Archaic Greece. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Mossé, C. 1983. The ‘World of the Emporium’ in the private speeches of Demosthenes. In Trade in the ancient economy, ed. P. Garnsey, K. Hopkins, and C.R. Whittaker, 53–63. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Petropoulos, E.K. 2005. Hellenic colonization in Euxeinos Pontos: Penetration, early establishment, and the problem of the “emporion” revisited, BAR international series 1394. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  18. Polanyi, K. 1963. Ports of trade in early societies. Journal of Economic History 23: 30–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Steinhauer, J. 2016. Religious associations in the post-classical polis. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.Google Scholar
  20. Torelli, M. 1988. Riflessioni a margine dell’emporion di Gravisca. PACT 20: 181–190.Google Scholar
  21. Vallet, G. 1968. La cité et son territoire dans les colonies grecques d’Occident. In La città e il suo territorio. Atti del VII Convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia, 67–142. Naples: L’Arte Tipografica.Google Scholar
  22. Vélissaropoulos, J. 1977. Le monde de l’emporion. Dialogues d’histoire ancienne 3: 61–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wilson, J.-P. 1997. The nature of Greek overseas settlements in the archaic period. In The development of the polis in archaic Greece, ed. L.G. Mitchell and P.J. Rhodes, 199–207. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jeffrey A. Becker
    • 1
  • Alison Barclay
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Classical and Near Eastern StudiesBinghamton University - SUNYBinghamtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Modern Languages and ClassicsSaint Mary's UniversityHalifaxCanada