While auctions are most associated in the public imagination with the sale of antiques, paintings, rare collectibles and expensive wines, auctions are also used for commodities, livestock, radio spectrum and used cars.In economic theory, an auction may refer to any mechanism or set of trading rules for exchange. In 2007, a Roman-era bronze sculpture of "Artemis and the Stag" was sold at Sotheby's in New York for US$28.6 million, by far exceeding its estimates and at the time setting the new record as the most expensive sculpture as well as work from antiquity ever sold at auction.

Later slaves, often captured as the "spoils of war", were auctioned in the forum under the sign of the spear, with the proceeds of sale going towards the war effort.

One of the most significant historical auctions occurred in the year 193 A. when the entire Roman Empire was put on the auction block by the Praetorian Guard.

On March 23 The Praetorian Guard first killed emperor Pertinax, then offered the empire to the highest bidder.

An auction is a process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder.

The open ascending price auction is arguably the most common form of auction in use today.

An auctioneer may announce prices, bidders may call out their bids themselves (or have a proxy call out a bid on their behalf), or bids may be submitted electronically with the highest current bid publicly displayed.In a Dutch auction, the auctioneer begins with a high asking price for some quantity of like items; the price is lowered until a participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price for some quantity of the goods in the lot or until the seller's reserve price is met.According to Herodotus, in Babylon auctions of women for marriage were held annually.The auctions began with the woman the auctioneer considered to be the most beautiful and progressed to the least.It was considered illegal to allow a daughter to be sold outside of the auction method.During the Roman Empire, following military victory, Roman soldiers would often drive a spear into the ground around which the spoils of war were left, to be auctioned off.