session 30

ROME AND THE MEDITERRANEAN: ARTEFACTS, GOODS, TRADE

Organised by: Clementina Panella

The interdisciplinary approach applied to the analysis of manufacturing and trade in the ancient world is a red line that unites the papers of this Session. The first section deals with the origin and development of ceramic production in republican Italy, using diversified and sometimes innovative tools to reconstruct and understand the economic, social and cultural workings of a certain moment in the history of the peninsula. In the second section, with similar aims and methods, and with the assistance of new data, the focus is given to Northern Africa in imperial times, a period when production and diffusion of crops and manufactured goods reached a scale and a continuity in time that has no equal in the history of antiquity.


1. New Approaches to Republican Ceramics

Organised by: Laura Banducci, Antonio F. Ferrandes and Marcello Mogetta

Scholars of recent decades have engaged in lively debates about the nature and effects of early Roman imperial expansion in the Republican period. A critical component of this is to articulate what might be recognizable as Roman material culture, analyzing this complex phenomenon particularly through the lens of urbanism and architecture. Domestic artefacts, ceramics in particular, rarely take center stage in this broader debate. Yet, there is great potential for ceramics to uncover the social, economic, and cultural dynamics that influenced (or were influenced by) the formation of a territorial “empire” in Italy and the Mediterranean, especially given modern archaeometric techniques and computer applications.

The proposed session, therefore, aims to provide a forum for discussing how innovative and integrative approaches to Republican pottery can address the problem and contribute to our broader understanding of Italian societies in this crucial period. The introductory papers offer some preliminary reflections on the recent theoretical and methodological debate  (Banducci and Mogetta), and on the ways in which modern principles of stratigraphic analysis in its broader meaning can shed light on both society and economy (Ferrandes). The presentations make critical use of archaeometry and functional analysis with both fine wares and coarse wares (Louwaard and Revello Lami). Innovative methods are applied to material from field survey and recent excavations as well as to material that has been in storage for over a century (Hobratschk). Aspects of diffusion and circulation in colonial and non-colonial contexts are analyzed from the perspective of the consumers (Termeer) and the traders (Principal). The final paper brings the focus on the actual people that produced, distributed, bought and used these materials (Nonnis).

Approaching ceramics in the Republic, Laura Banducci and Marcello Mogetta

Economy and Society behind Stratigraphies, Contexts and Fragments: A Systemic Approach to the Roman Republic, Antonio F. Ferrandes

Roman, local or just global? A diachronic and integrated approach to Republican pottery from Satricum (Latium, Central Italy),Muriel Louwaard and Martina Revello Lami

The Hidden Treasures of Rome Project: Preliminary Results from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Johanna Hobratschk                                                                                                       

Becoming Roman in a colonial context: a consumption perspective, Marleen Termeer

Uncofessable intentions: evolving commercial strategies of Rome in western Mediterranean (3rd c. BCE),Jordi Principal

I protagonisti tra produzione e consumo: un approccio di storia sociale, David Nonnis


2. North Africa: Territories, Centers of production and Trade ancient Mediterranean

Organised by: Clementina Panella, Michael Bonifay, Sami  Ben Taharv, Youssef Aïbeche and Mofhtah Ahmed

An imposing amount of studies and researches in the second half of the twentieth century has focused on the productivity in Roman Africa of a variety of consumer products, along with the analysis of regions, cities and their economies. The success of  African goods during the Caesarian-Augustan age and up to the late antiquity, recorded in the written tradition and confirmed by the stratigraphy of many sites in the Mediterranean, has been the subject of a substantial amount of contributions that have accompanied for more than sixty years the study of material culture of the Roman imperial age. This session, which can not consider every product of the Maghreb, will focus mainly on the ceramic, not only on account of its large diffusion, the fossil marker for dating contexts all around the Mediterranean and well inside Europe for several centuries, but also because the evidence is more consistent than that found for other types of sources, and reflects the ability of African regions to develop a high yield agriculture, and manufacturing activities related to fisheries, as shown by transport amphorae (carrying oil, olives, wine, fish sauces), as well as crafts tied to the production of more or less valuable objects, aimed - at various levels - at regional, inter-regional and inter-provincial markets.

If during a  more or less recent past most studies were mainly focused on data collected at the sites of consumption (and thus on the indestructible ceramic), centered on the type and histories of each production (fine table ware, lamps,  kitchenware and coarse ware), recent studies have been, on one hand, directed towards a review of the known types and towards a more thoughtful analysis of the contexts of discovery, perfecting the production framework and anchoring to a trustworthy time frame certain types and classes in circulation; on the other hand they have focused on the production centers in order to get a better geographic characterization of those same types and classes, applying a wealth of suitable methodologies, surveys of large tracts of land, surveys and excavations of old and new workshops, laboratory analysis. The results draw a scenery in which a great variety of productive facies and distribution models reflect the complexity of the cultural, social and economic contexts, both micro- and macro-regional, both at the provincial and inter-provincial levels. This session aims to describe these lines of research, focusing on the organization of production and commerce in the region, their similarities and differences, and on a list of questions still unsolved, the solution of which will call for a further revision of published data, and for brand new information.

- Regions and production system:

Mauretania/Numidia, Youssef Aïbeche

Zeugitana and Byzacena, Sami Ben Taher

Tripolitania, Mofhtah Ahmed

- Markets, economies:

The North-Africa and Rome, Clementina Panella

The Mediterranean Trade, Michael Bonifay

Discussants: Elizabeth Fentress and Paul Reynolds