Thoughts on Geraki in the Days of the Roman Empire

In a shift from the weaving project in Geraki, Archeology PhD student at UCLA, Luis Rodríguez-Pérez brings us a new angle on Geraki during the Roman Empire:

The Roman Empire of the 3rd century finds itself in the midst of a crisis. Between consecutive and violent successions to the throne and an inflating economy spanning from southern Britain in the west to Egypt in the east, this massive territory is difficult to govern. The emperor Diocletian (284-305 CE) ascends the throne and the empire undergoes a flurry of policy changes.

The well-watered town of Geraki in this period enjoys a significant role as a regional market town, holding a festival every year in the groves of the temple of Ares. In the agora of ancient Geronthrae, the local folk are (probably) relieved to see an Edict on the Maximum Prices for common goods. This edict, issued by Diocletian in 301, aims to combat the growing inflation and price gouging of goods in the marketplace.

Fragments from a Greek translation of the edict, repurposed as a lintel and jambs around the entrance to the church of St. John Chrysostom in Geraki, lists the maximum prices of leather (left) and linen (right). The location of the church near the prominent water source Κάτω Βρύση suggests that the yet-to-be-found agora, which served as a source of spolia and building materials, is in close proximity to the church.

On Monday, June 3, 2024 the team visited the church and took the time to photograph this inscription, which provides a glimpse into pre-Christian Geraki when the village served as an important node in the interconnected Roman economy.