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Ancient Roman coarse ware in the Regio X and beyond: an archaeological approach to distribution and trade

Ardis, Carla (2019) Ancient Roman coarse ware in the Regio X and beyond: an archaeological approach to distribution and trade. Advisor: Catoni, Prof. Maria Luisa. pp. 587. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

Long neglected by archaeological research, coarse ware has been recognised as important source of information on ancient living practices, technological know-how and the organisation of production and trade in ancient communities only from the second half of the 20th century. Deeply rooted within this background, this research concretely explores the possibility of using coarse ware to retrieve complex data for refined socio-economic analysis. In details, focusing on the territory of the Roman colony of Aquileia, inserted in the broader framework of the Regio X Italica and of the whole Northern Italy, the study aims to investigating the trade of coarse ware, in order to define its nature and extent. The research starts from the study of coarse ware collected during the 2013-2016 excavations of an unpublished underwater archaeological site, Stella 1, located in the river Stella, within the nowadays municipality of Palazzolo dello Stella (Udine District, Italy). The investigation of these artefacts clearly points that coarse ware was traded along the river; nevertheless this trade, rather than involving the vases themselves, concerned instead their contents. Moving from this achievement, the study broadens its sight, investigating the circulation of ancient Roman coarse ware firstly in the entire Regio X and then in all of Northern Italy. A wide comparative study enabled to detect patterns of trade and consumption of ancient Roman coarse ware and its contents. The distribution of a number of peculiar shapes, analysed in conjunction with the capillary Roman routes network, highlighted the existence of some preferential routes for coarse ware circulation, that employed both terrestrial roads and inland waterways. The research fully exploited coarse ware informative potential, definitively confirming the value of ancient Roman coarse ware in providing powerful insights for a deeper understanding of the ancient economic and social systems. The study of Stella 1 coarse ware firstly enabled to achieve a better comprehension of the site itself, determining its nature as a commercial site and clearly assessing its chronology to the second half of the 1st – 2ndcentury AD. Furthermore, Stella 1 coarse ware fully testified that these vases were traded as food containers. Despite the difficulties in determining the contents, suggestions about the nature of foodstuffs traded come from both ancient literary sources and contemporary archaeological data. Coarse ware proved therefore to be a source of information about the trade of perishable materials, rarely recorded by archaeological evidences. A wide comparative study, that took in consideration findings from the entire Northern Italy, demonstrated that, far from having only a local circulation, coarse ware was traded on a regional, and even supraregional level, reaching also far away markets. These results provided insights for a better comprehension of the economic system of the Aquileia’s ager, and, more broadly, of the entire Regio X. The economic model that points to Aquileia as the unique centralising node, the only centre in charge of the distribution of foreign products within the Regio, needs to be reviewed. Thanks to the capillarity of the Roman routes network, also other areas, only apparent peripheral, played an essential role in the circulation and distribution of products, both locally produced and imported. Goods did not necessarily need to arrive in Aquileia to be redistributed. Some areas were responsible of the local distribution of imported products and were furthermore able to trade autonomously, even to far away markets, goods locally produced; this turned out to be particularly true for an important productive area as the Stella basin, served by both terrestrial routes and inland waterways. The idea that settlements within the ager served uniquely the main city, Aquileia, should be therefore overcame. As a final result, the study proved that coarse ware, when comprehensively approached, is a powerful tool for the reconstruction of complex economic dynamics, providing a better insights into the ancient system of trade and exchange.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
PhD Course: Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/271
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 12:52
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/271

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