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Kim Bowes

Roman landscapes exhibited enormous diversity, from the rolling hills of the Mediterranean heartland, to Nile marshlands, Apennine mountain pastures, and African pre-deserts. New work on this diversity has demonstrated the intensive methods with which they were managed for agriculture and artisanal output, as well as their highly periodized histories. While much debate in the study of these landscapes has revolved around ancient climate change, more apparent is robust human intervention, which often reached a peak during the Roman period. Romans thought deeply about landscapes, and their literature and religious rituals used landscape to frame moral, religious, and political values.

Unlike the landscapes of the Greek city states, those encompassed by the Roman empire at its height were diverse in the extreme. Among the empire’s territories were the pre-desert regions of Tripolitania and the Syrian frontier, the mountain pastures of the Apennines, and the marshes of the Egyptian oases, not to mention the rolling limestone landscapes of the Mediterranean heartland. Even within smaller slices of these territories (and even within tiny micro-regions), new work has revealed the remarkable diversity of vegetation, sunlight, rainfall, and topography. It is the plurality of these landscapes that gave Romans material for a rich tradition of literary and religious expression as well as a vast and intensive apparatus for economic exploitation.


J. Theodore Peña

Amphorae were large ceramic jars employed in the Roman world for the packaging and transport of a limited set of liquid and semi-liquid foodstuffs—chiefly wine, olive oil, and various kinds of fish preserves and processed fish products—and certain other substances. They were manufactured in a large number of distinct shapes—generally referred to as classes—linked to specific regions and employed for specific kinds of contents. For this reason amphorae are treated by scholars as proxy markers for the distribution of these categories of foodstuffs and, on account of their abundance and ubiquity in the archaeological record, they constitute one of the most important forms of material evidence for economic activity in the Roman world from the 3rd century bce down to the end of antiquity.We possess a wide range of evidence relating to amphorae. The remains of workshops in which amphorae were manufactured have been identified in many parts of the Roman world, and many of these have been subject to surface investigations and/or excavation. Amphorae occur in abundance on archaeological sites in most parts of the Roman world, most often in fragmentary condition, though in some cases more or less intact. These include amphora production workshops, sites relating to their filling or distribution (food processing/packaging facilities, .


Marco Formisano

In comparison with other technical and scientific disciplines, agriculture enjoyed a higher social and cultural status because of both its inherent utility for society and economy and its moral exemplarity, associated in Rome with the traditional respected “ways of the ancestors” (mos maiorum). The extant works of Cato, Varro, Columella, Gargilius Martialis, and Palladius testify to the long life of agricultural discourse throughout the history of Latin literature and beyond. While it is helpful to read these texts as belonging to a tradition, each of them has its own individual form, aims, and creative ambition.Recent studies on ancient technical and scientific texts have demonstrated that this particular strand of Greek and Roman textuality—taking as its subject matter not only arable cultivation but also livestock, arboriculture, market gardens, luxuryfoods, slave management, and villa construction—deserves much more attention than it was given in the past, when works on various fields of practical knowledge were generally dismissed both as literary texts and as historical sources: on the one hand, they seemed to show no connection with the literary prose of other genres; on the other, quite paradoxically, historians of science and technology lamented that these texts were too literary and thus of limited utility for historical reconstructions. Today, however, there is a general scholarly agreement that these texts are not to be considered as mere “manuals,” since they do indeed have a strong relationship with other literary genres, both prose and poetry, and since they create a specific textual language, one which is much more “literary” than one might at first glance expect if one focuses only on the technical knowledge contained in those books. It is as if we were to read and interpret .