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Université de Bordeaux
LabEx LaScArBxCluster of Excellence
Cluster of excellence

From the Adriatic to the Danube: Istrian amphorae between archaeometry and economic history (1st – 3rd centuries AD)




Centre Camille Jullian

Ecole française de Rome

Università degli Studi di Padova, Dipartimento di Geoscienze

Université de Budapest Loránd Eötvös, Közettan-Geokémiai Tanszék

Finance: €19,950

Duration: 16 months (September 2014-December 2015)

Istria was a major production zone of olive oil, renowned in the Roman world. It was exported in amphorae known as Dressel 6B to northern Italy and the Danube, supplying one of the principal commercial channels of the empire. Production was dominated during the 1st century AD by the two large workshops of Fažana and Loron, both partially excavated. The study of the amphora stamps reveals that the latter belonged to senior figures among senators, close to the Emperor, before passing into the hands of the Emperor himself from the end of the 1st century.

In this multi-disciplinary, exploratory project, we envisage involving elements corresponding to three main objectives, arising notably from geochemical analyses carried out on Istrian Dr 6B amphorae. First of all, it will be a question of identifying the raw clay materials used in the production of Loron and Fažana, not located up to now. The study will continue by the characterisation of the different Istrian productions, including a small group of north-Istrian workshops, known uniquely through their stamps. Finally, we will be concerned with the distribution of these amphorae. The commercial channels used for this are currently reconstructed solely from the amphorae stamps found on consumption sites, and this does not cover any of the unstamped amphorae production, which makes up at least two thirds of production prior to the 2nd century, nor almost all of the amphorae after Hadrian. Also, a group of Dr 6B amphorae discovered in Upper Moesia and Pannonia will be taken into consideration – in fact these are of a type reminiscent of Istrian amphorae but bear stamps that are unknown elsewhere.

The results obtained by this project will therefore complete our knowledge of the economic and social history of a major route of the Western Roman Empire, still not well-known. There will therefore be an opportunity to create a reference combining all this information (typo-chronological, geochemical, prosopographical, etc) in a database associated with a GIS.