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Monte Testaccio  

Janet DeLaine

Monte Testaccio, an artificial hill, 36 m. (118 ft.) high and covering roughly 22,000 sq. m. (26,300 sq. yds.), in the Emporium district of Rome south of the *Aventine near the *Tiber. It is composed entirely of broken *amphorae dating from the 1st to the mid-3rd century ce, mostly oil amphorae from *Baetica in Spain with a smaller amount from North Africa, analysis of which has contributed to debate on the Roman economy.

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Oplontis  

Michael Thomas

Ancient Oplontis was a seaside area, located approximately five kilometers to the west of Pompeii. The name Oplontis appears in only one source, the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century copy of a Roman map. From that map, archaeologists have argued that ancient Oplontis lies under the modern town of Torre Annunziata. In the area of Torre Annunziata known as Le Mascatelle, excavations have revealed two major sites, Oplontis A and B. Although knowledge of the area dates back to the late 16th century, when the track of the Sarno Canal cut through the southern part of Oplontis Villa A, modern excavation at the villa did not begin until 1964. Work at Oplontis B began in 1974 when construction on a new school discovered evidence of the ancient structure. Though near to each other, the two sites represent very different buildings. Oplontis A was a luxury villa perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples with sophisticated architecture, spectacular wall painting, sculptures, manicured gardens, and a sixty-meter swimming pool. Oplontis B was a large commercial building that was used for the exportation of wine.

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exploration  

Duane W. Roller

Exploration in antiquity was largely the result of commercial or military endeavours, rather than any pure quest for knowledge or scholarship. Nevertheless, from the first efforts of Greeks to move beyond the Greek heartland into the Black Sea and western Mediterranean, which began as early as the end of the Bronze Age, Greeks and Romans steadily explored around and beyond their world. By the late Roman period, almost all of the Eastern Hemisphere was known, with the exception of interior southern Africa and the far northeastern portions of Asia, and it was suggested that there might be other continents across the ocean. Despite an emphasis on trade and commercial contacts, there was also an increase in scientific and other scholarly knowledge. The beginnings of Greek exploration are apparent in the Odyssey of Homer and may go back to the latter part of the Bronze Age. By the latter 7th century bce, Greeks were moving outside of the Mediterranean to the Phoenician (later Carthaginian) trading cities such as Gadeira on the Atlantic. With the rise of the Persians, they began to learn about what lay to their east, and Alexander the Great created awareness of a world stretching as far as India. At the same time, Pytheas of Massalia explored the northern Atlantic as far as Iceland. The discipline of geography was invented by Eratosthenes of Cyrene in the latter 3rd century bce, and in the following century the explorer Polybius reached the Equator. Roman military operations in the north of Europe and the British Isles and trade journeys into central Africa meant those regions were brought into the sphere of knowledge of the Mediterranean world. Realization that the inhabited world, however vast, was only a small part of the total surface of the Earth led to theorization about other lands across the ocean, but there is no solid evidence that anyone from the ancient Mediterranean reached them and was able to report on them. By the latter 1st century bce traders became aware of Southeast Asia and China, and there were occasional contacts during the Roman period, but by the 2nd century ce the era of ancient exploration was at an end, and there was little further expansion of geographical knowledge until the Islamic period.