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amphorae, Roman  

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, .


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.


pottery, Roman  

Kevin Greene

Roman pottery plays an essential role in dating and interpreting excavated sites. It also reflects changes in Roman society, in terms of its economy, religion, and consumption practices. In addition, pottery gives further insights into the workings of Roman industry and trade. Most pottery was manufactured in specialized workshops and fired in carefully constructed kilns. Standardized forms with wide distributions, and frequent use of stamps showing workshop names, suggest that much of it was traded commercially. Nevertheless, traditional local industries survived in many places, supplying smaller regions.Roman pottery comprises a full range of vessels for table and kitchen functions, as well as for use in storage and transportation. At the top of the quality scale was terra sigillata, a tableware with a smooth, red, glossy surface, and a suite of forms from cups to plates. Other kinds of fine, elaborately decorated cups and beakers were also used alongside dinner services. But the great majority of Roman pots were plain earthenware vessels designed for cooking and storage. Examples of more specialized forms include amphorae, used for transporting foodstuffs, and enormous globular dolia up to 2 m (6.



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.