A Late Bronze Age passport? A re-evaluation of the diptych from the Uluburun shipwreck
This brief contribution argues that the diptych from the Uluburun shipwreck is best interpreted as a Late Bronze Age diplomatic document – as a passport – and not as a merchant’s register. Passports were used by diplomats and royal traders throughout the Late Bronze Age world, and are referred to in various cuneiform and Egyptian texts. The argument that the Uluburun diptych was, in fact, such a diplomatic document is supported by a discussion of the materiality of the object. The use of boxwood and ivory, as well as its modest size suggest that this was an object of a certain status, whereas the absence of a stylus on board, and the likelihood that the tablets were closed and sealed when the ship sank, further suggest that their content was meant to be read only at the port of arrival.
Women on symposion images. An iconographic study of red-figure pottery from the Attica region during the period 530 and 440 BC
From 550 BC, Attic painters started to depict women on symposion images. Although women are only seen on a small percentage of symposion images, they are always shown performing a range of activities. This article aims at understanding the role of women on symposion images through iconographic analysis of 45 red-figure vases from the Attica region from the period 530-440 BC. This study has shown that females on symposion images can be divided into three categories: women in serving, entertaining and participating roles. Furthermore, it appears that not all women had an equal status or an equivalent degree of freedom. Despite the level of freedom for women shown on symposion images, full control remains with the men. The images often show women having explicit physical contact with men, giving symposion images depicting women on red-figure pottery an erotic character.
Tanagras figurines: a mystery unravelled
This article aims to add a partially new view onto the interpretation of the Tanagra figurines. These figurines were produced in the Hellenistic period (ca. 330-200 BC) and were widely distributed across the Mediterranean. Their appearance is appealing, even to the modern eye. In the nineteenth century, sites were looted to meet the high demand for these beautiful figurines. Since hardly any of the figurines have been found in situ, interpretation of the (social-cultural) meaning of the female figures is difficult. This article discusses information from different sites and find contexts in order to reconstruct the social meaning of the Tanagras. Information from find contexts in graves, houses and a sanctuary are used to sketch the picture of figurines used as vessels to invoke religious presence even though their appearance is quite secular. I argue that the figurines represent everyday women, rather than a goddess. The Tanagras seem to be a representation of an ideal for these everyday women. And their presence in a house, grave or sanctuary invokes the help of a goddess in order to become this ideal woman. Tanagras represent the hope of being and becoming something, or rather someone: a mother and wife. This article will argue for a review of the meaning of the Tanagra figurines, towards this new interpretation.
The remarkable life of the Dying Niobid. A biography of a Greek statue in Rome
This article explores the biography of the Dying Niobid, a Classical Greek statue that was found in Rome. A great body of Greek statues was brought to Rome during the last two centuries BC, where many of them were displayed for centuries. Previous research has mainly studied these statues as representatives of Greek culture. However, when studying the Dying Niobid through time it becomes clear that this sculpture has functioned in a variety of contexts; the Classical Greek context being just one of them. Writing a cultural biography of this object enables us to take all these contexts into consideration and illustrate how meaning, values and functions change as the object makes its way through space and time.
The Battle of Marathon as lieu de mémoire
The Battle of Marathon was not immortalised because of its historical relevance, but because of how its ‘afterlife’ was treated in landscape, literature, iconography, sports, and politics. Both in Antiquity, as well as by scholars today, it has been claimed that the battle was a decisive moment in the history of the free, democratic, western world. The fact that ceremonies are still being held at the tumulus of the fallen 192 Athenian hoplites, keeping the (collective) memory of the significance of the Battle alive, makes it clear that even after 25 centuries Marathon still actively functions as a lieu de mémoire.
Prehistory and politics: class struggle, production processes and conflict in the Italian Bronze Age
This paper discusses the influence of Marxist thought on prehistoric research in Italy. It provides a brief overview of theoretical developments in Italian prehistoric and protohistoric research in the 20th century, before zooming in on the ideals and political engagement of a group of young archaeologists in post-Second World War Rome. While most members of this group dropped their Marxist theories in the 1980s, Marx’ thoughts remained influential in the research group centered around Renato Peroni (1930-2010). This lasting influence is illustrated by a review of Peroni’s work in Calabria (Southern Italy). Finally, Peroni’s model for protohistoric societies in Calabria is discussed in the light of recent discoveries and theoretical developments.
Pottery technology in the Iron Age: the production of Oenotrian matt-painted pottery in the Sibaritide (Northeastern Calabria, Italy)
This study investigates the production of Oenotrian Geometric pottery, also known as matt-painted pottery, during the Early Iron Age at three sites of the Sibaritide region in Northern Calabria, Italy (Francavilla Marittima, Torre Mordillo and Castrovillari). The main purpose of the research is to identify the chaîne opératoire of this decorated pottery category, and to identify its modes of production through the application of macroscopic, microscopic and X-ray analyses. In this way a representative sample of the full range of shapes produced in the period between the second half of the ninth and seventh centuries BC was investigated, taken from different functional contexts (domestic, funerary and ritual). The approach chosen allowed to determine various partly contemporary modes of production that over time evolved from handmade to wheel-turning manufacture. Based on these observations, aspects of the changing practical and social organization underlying the production of Geometric pottery in the Sibaritide could be inferred as well as the distribution of specific productions within the Sibaritide and outside of it.
Liquid footprints. Water, urbanism and sustainability in Roman Ostia
The past three decades have witnessed a dramatic shift in the awareness of the intrinsic link between landscape and human actions both in archaeological research and in the modern globalizing world. This research introduces the application of sustainable resource models to the evidence of Roman urbanism to identify what forces shaped ancient water use. By creating this urban dialogue across two millennia a more tessellated view is given of Roman water usage that emphasizes the flexibility, continuity, and cultural forces of ancient water use. The city of Ostia has been chosen as the case study for this project, given the wealth of archaeological and natural water features present at the site. Within Ostia, a well preserved city block (insula IV, ii) is studied in high definition to recreate its water system over time. This has revealed four distinct, albeit fragmentary snapshots of the acquisition, distribution, and drainage of water. It is hoped that this dialogue between ancient and modern urbanism can provide valuable insights into what forces shaped and continue to influence the way we use and think about our valuable natural resources.
‘As above, so below?’ Linking surface finds to sub-surface evidence of Republican farmsteads
This paper discusses the inherently assumed relationship between surface and sub-surface finds. By focusing on a specific site-class, i.e. the Republican farmstead (sixth – first century BC), the author aims to re-assess the use of site-classes and add to the general theoretical discussion on the comparability of both methodologies. The dataset is comprised of a variety of archaeological projects: field surveys, excavations and comparative studies. Combined, these projects give insight into the practice of site-labeling, material interpretation and data-publication. The analysis shows how the practice of classification works within both methodologies. Special attention is given to the defining site-type characteristics (e.g. the presence/absence of object-classes and site-size). Unfortunately, the author has to conclude that a true definition of the discussed site-class, spanning both survey and excavation practices, remains elusive, as both methodologies implement extremely different site-classes. The methodological issues that the project raises however provide a detailed insight into the inner workings of site-classification practices, and pave the way for further standardisation in publication and site-classification.
Social Complexity in Sagalassos and Düzen Tepe during the Classical and Hellenistic periods
The origin of polis is a commonly used narrative for scholars studying community formation in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially for the Hellenistic period. However, this narrative tends to favour certain ‘hellenocentric’ biases. It would be better to use a social complexity approach. Social complexity is studied here through an analysis of interactive forces steering institutional development and change on the macro-level of social organisation. The workings of some of these forces are presented here through some examples from the material culture of Sagalassos and Düzen Tepe, two nearby settlements located in Pisidia in Southwest Anatolia. The presented argument illustrates the potential of this type of research and is to serve as a first step towards a full examination of social complexity in past societies.
Archaeological Theory in a Nutshell
Paradigm Found. Archaeological Theory – Present, Past and Future
Triangular Landscapes. Environment, Society and the State in the Nile Delta under Roman Rule
Religion and Society in Middle Bronze Age Greece
The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean
Egypt in the First Millennium AD. Perspectives from new fieldwork
introducties op lopend onderzoek
Carving Communities in Stone: inscripties als medium van Hellenistische globalisering
Inland pathways towards societal complexity: a science-based analysis of Final Neolithic to Early Bronze Age ceramics of Geraki, Southern Greece (ca. 4100-2000 BC)
Hidden Landscapes of Roman colonization: New methods for assessing inter-site variability and improving site detectability in forested areas in two colonial landscapes in Central-Southern Italy
Ex memoria praecedentium saeculorum. The Roman past and the coming about of a collective cultural identity in Late Antique and Early Medieval Rome
Chlorakas-Palloures, research into the Middle and Late Chalcolithic of Cyprus
TMA 56 – Mediterrane voedseleconomieën
Grain transport and grain prices in Ramesside Egypt. The recto of Papyrus Amiens and Papyrus Baldwin quantified
For a good understanding of ancient food economies, quantitative data are indispensable. Quantitative data on variables such as income, taxes and food prices can aid us in reconstructing living standards, socioeconomic inequality and economic performance in past societies, and even allow comparisons through time and space. This contribution quantifies data on grain shipments and sailors’ rations from the recto of P. Amiens + P. Baldwin (Ramesside period, mid-20th Dynasty). The text records the transport of grain by a fleet of 21 cargo vessels belonging to the temple of Amen-Re at Karnak that was supplied by various domains. This paper quantifies the volume, weight, edible weight and corresponding energetic value of the cargo and calculates the minimum size of the domains and number of individuals that could be fed with these grain deliveries. The rations of the sailors are also quantified and compared with wages and prices from Deir el Medina. This paper also demonstrates that, contrary to common scholarly opinion, emmer wheat was more expensive than barley during the Ramesside period.
Dietary reconstruction in Early Iron Age Greece using carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis
In the Sub-Mycenaean and Protogeometric periods (1100-900 BC) the old Mycenaean world was changing. Social structure, material culture, and diet underwent varying degrees of transformation. This paper focuses on dietary changes during the post-Mycenaean period in the Greek mainland. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses conducted on human bone collagen indicate diversity in dietary practices both within and between communities in Thessaly. While the data show that the diet largely consisted of C3 resources, a significant C4 signal is also apparent. Furthermore, animal protein consumption is high, but in variable proportions at each site. Archaeozoological and archaeobotanical studies help understand the food economy, while the study of the social structure sheds more light on the cause of the dietary variation observed.
Famine, disease and demography in the Roman mediterranean world
Famine in the Roman world was not an on and off phenomenon, as there was a continuous fluctuation between times of relative scarcity and abundance. The poor regularly ate so-called famine foods, and many died of deprivation, under ‘normal’ conditions. In times of hardship or bounty, the consumption of inferior foods and the threat of death ascended or descended the rungs of the social ladder indiscriminately, demarcating no clear boundary between famine and normality. Fodder and other famine foods kept many individuals alive, but could not ward off the effects of starvation in the worst of crises. Food shortages caused mass mobility, which in turn led to the rise of epidemic diseases. The comparison with later times shows that most victims of famines died of infectious diseases rather than starvation and that all social classes died at the same rate – a phenomenon that was observed by ancient authors too.
Top dollar delicacy or generic good? Quantifying pepper prices and pepper consumption in the Roman Empire
This paper aims to assess the accessibility of pepper to average Roman consumers in terms of price by quantifying the cost of ‘meaningful’ culinary pepper consumption. To this end, by performing measurements on modern pepper samples, we first quantify Roman pepper prices and units of measurement more concretely. What was the cost of a peppercorn, and how many were there to the libra and other units? We then define and quantify ‘meaningful’ pepper consumption using modern consumption statistics and cooking data. Subsequently we compare these data to Roman incomes. We show that, if only looking at price, regular culinary pepper consumption would even have been possible for lower income consumers. In addition, we also used our method to quantify the value of amounts of pepper in literary sources and archaeological finds. We look in more detail at Apicius’ De Re Coquinaria, which features many recipes with infeasibly high quantities of pepper. We show that in most recipes where the amount of pepper is explicitly quantified and large, whole peppercorns instead of ground pepper was used. We show that this excessive yet inefficient usage of pepper as ‘garnish’ is a form of conspicuous consumption. We argue this may be a response to normal, efficient pepper use, becoming too commonplace and not distinctive enough for elites. We also explore the price difference between the different types of pepper the Romans consumed. We explain these differences from the perspective of production cost through assessing traditional production processes and agronomic statistics.
Fuel in ancient food production
Fuel is a little considered part of the ancient economy. The production and consumption of food constituted one of the major uses of fuel in the Greco-Roman world. It was required on an industrial scale in bakeries, temples and probably bars, but it was also required daily in people’s homes mostly for cooking food (in the kitchen, and in the triclinium), and also for sacrificing to the Lares. Wood and wood charcoal were the main fuels in the Roman world, but non-wood fuels including agricultural waste (especially olive pressings), were also consumed. This paper reviews the types of fuel used in the preparation of food, both commercially and domestically, with reference to examples from the Greco-Roman world, especially Pompeii. The relative heat values of different fuels are discussed, together with an overview of the supply constraints and probable volumes required.
Vinea uel arbustum? Vine cultivation techniques in Roman Italy
The texts of the ancient agronomists elucidate that Roman farmers knew of many ways in which to train and cultivate the vine. An important distinction in Latin literature is the use of the terms vinea, the classic intensive vineyard, and arbustum, an extensive growing system in combination with cereal culture and fruticulture. This article briefly discusses the pros and cons of both techniques and their respective applications in Roman Italy. Through an enlightening survey of the arbustum in the agricultural manuals of Varro, Columella and Pliny, and by making comparisons with the later alberata system in 15th-20th century AD Italy, the author argues that the importance and the distribution of this vine cultivation technique in Roman Italy has long been undervalued.
Pompeii, a fully urban society: charting diachronic social and economic changes in the environmental evidence
The earliest attempts to identify economic and edible plants from Pompeii came from ancient textual and art historical research. However, in more recent excavations of the site’s bicentennial ‘archaeological history’, a handful of influential publications on the archaeobotanical evidence, mainly from material in the storerooms, have been produced and added key information to this discussion. This growing corpus of data, in combination with the legacy archaeobotanical record, has shed new light on the diachronic patterns of food and cuisine for the city of Pompeii, regarding it as a fully urban consumer society by the first century AD within the Roman Empire. This article synthesizes the available legacy and recent archaeobotanical evidence that both testifies to the established ‘standard’ Mediterranean diet for Pompeii and demonstrates changes in the number and diversity of plant species recovered. These changes represent a significant shift in the economic division of the city’s inhabitants, and therefore its history.
The role of chicken in the medieval food system: evidence from Central Italy
Although domestic fowl is often found at Italian archaeological sites at least from the sixth century BC onwards, it became widespread only in the Roman period. Throughout the Middle Ages, chicken played an important role in the Italian food economy as attested by the substantial number of bones of this bird recovered from archaeological contexts. This study is focused on the identification of trends in chicken exploitation that can be linked to production and/or consumption. The analysis of bone assemblages shows an increase in the frequency of chickens from the 13th century onwards. In urban contexts, which reflect consumption rather than production, anatomical parts with a higher meat value are more frequent. Chickens were probably bred at rural sites, as attested by age and sex evidence. Early medieval chickens from Rome appear to have had the largest body size. The requirements of the market did not seem to have imposed an increase in chicken size in later centuries.
‘Impressions’ of the Mamluk agricultural economy. Archaeobotanical evidence from clay ovens (ṭābūn) at Tall Hisban (Jordan)
In this paper we present the results of the archaeobotanical analysis of impressions of plant remains encountered in the profile and on the surface of clay fragments of ṭāwabīn. The fragments originate from Mamluk contexts at the site of Tall Hisban located in southern Bilad as-Sham (modern Jordan and Palestine). This study models the formation process of the botanical component of the ṭābūn as a context and explores the underlying processes explaining the presence of the different kinds of impressions. After providing a description of the ṭābūn and consulting historical and ethnographic descriptions, we present our model and interpret the results of the archaeobotanical analysis through it. Furthermore, the archaeobotanical data obtained from the analysis of ṭābūn fragments helps contribute to the knowledge of the Tall Hisban food economy. The importance of barley at the site during this period is not only reflected through ṭābūn fragments, but more importantly are proxies for economic activities in the village.
War and Society in Early Rome: from Warlords to Generals
Ricerche sui Villaggi nel Lazio dell’età Imperiale alla Tarda Antichità
A Companion to Food in the Ancient World
Middle Egyptian Literature. Eight Literary Works of the Middle Kingdom
Archaeology of Food – an Encyclopedia
Roman military architecture on the frontiers: armies and their architecture in Late Antiquity
The Material Life of Roman Slaves (ISBN
introducties op lopend onderzoek
Innovating objects. The impact of global connections and the formation of the Roman Empire (ca. 200-30 BC)
Tradities van macht in tijden van transitie. Romeinse macht in veranderende samenlevingen (50 voor Christus – 565 na Christus)
De impact van de bevolkingstoename op de rurale samenleving in Magna Grecia gedurende de Hellenistische periode