Maritime Studies in the Wake of the Byzantine Shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey 1623492157, 9781623492151, 9781623492298

Foreword by George F. Bass. Excavated in the 1960s under the direction of George F. Bass and Frederick van Doorninck, t

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Table of contents :
Foreword / George F. Bass xi
Introduction xv
Abbreviations xix
Part I. The Material Culture of Maritime Economies
1. Amphora Standardization and Economic Activity / Elizabeth S. Greene and Mark L. Lawall 3
2. The Restudy of the LR2 Amphoras from the Seventh-Century Yassıada Shipwreck: Preliminary Evidence for Standardization / Peter G. van Alfen 17
3. The Metrology of the Piriform Amphoras from the Eleventh-Century Byzantine Ship at Serçe Limanı: New Designs but an Old System / Frederick H. van Doorninck Jr. 35
4. Plant Remains from the Old Wine Jars on the Byzantine Ship at Yassıada / Cheryl A. Ward 55
5. The Contribution of the Yassıada Shipwreck Excavation to the Knowledge of Life Aboard Ancient Ships / Carlo Beltrame 63
Part II. Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval Ships and Harbors
6. The Madrague de Giens Project in the Wake of the Excavation of the Byzantine Shipwreck at Yassıada / Patrice Pomey 73
7. From the Excavation of the Yassıada Wreck, Turkey (1961–1964), to the Excavation of the Port Berteau II Wreck, France (1992–1997) / Eric Rieth 82
8. Reconstructing the Pantano Longarini Ship / Sarah M. Kampbell 91
9. The Shipwrecks at Yenikapı: Recent Research in Byzantine Shipbuilding / Cemal Pulak, Rebecca Ingram, and Michael Jones 102
10. The Thirteenth-Century Genoese Pamphilus: Similar to the Yassıada Vessel? / Furio Ciciliot (Translated by Lilia Campana) 116
Part III. Maritime Contacts in the Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval Mediterranean
11. The Levanzo I Wreck and the Transfer of Technology by Sea in the Late Roman Mediterranean / Jeffrey G. Royal 127
12. The Late Antique Coastal Settlement of Aperlae on the Lycian Coast / Robert L. Hohlfelder 146
13. Early Byzantine Cyprus: A View from the Sea / Justin Leidwanger 157
14. Underwater Archaeology and History: The Case of Serçe Limanı / Vasilios Christides 167
15. A Medieval Mediterranean Maritime Revolution: Crusading by Sea ca. 1096–1204 / John H. Pryor 174
16. Wrecks and Texts: A Judeo-Arabic Case Study / Roxani Margariti 189
Part IV. Final Thoughts
17. The Seventh-Century Byzantine Ship at Yassıada and Her Final Voyage: Present Thoughts / Frederick H. van Doorninck Jr. 205
Bibliography 217
Contributors 241
Index 243
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maritime studies in the wake of the byzantine shipwreck at yassiada , turkey

ed rachal foundation nautical archaeology series, in association with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology

maritime studies in the wake of the byzantine shipwreck at yassiada , turkey Edited by

Deborah N. Carlson, Justin Leidwanger, and Sarah M. Kampbell Foreword by George F. Bass

texas a&m university press College Station

Copyright © 2015 by Texas A&M University Press Manufactured in the United States of America All rights reserved First edition This paper meets the requirements of ANSI / NISO Z39.48–1992 (Permanence of Paper). Binding materials have been chosen for durability. oy Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Maritime studies in the wake of the Byzantine shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey / edited by Deborah N. Carlson, Justin Leidwanger, and Sarah M. Kampbell.—First edition. p. cm.—(Ed Rachal Foundation nautical archaeology series) “In association with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.” Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-62349-215-1 (printed case : alk. paper)—ISBN 978-1-62349-229-8 (e-book) 1. Shipwrecks—Turkey. 2. Shipwrecks—Mediterranean Region. 3. Excavations (Archaeology)—Turkey. 4. Excavations (Archaeology)—Mediterranean Region. 5. Underwater archaeology. 6. Turkey—Antiquities, Byzantine. 7. Mediterranean Region—Antiquities, Byzantine. I. Carlson, Deborah N., 1970– editor. II. Leidwanger, Justin, 1978–, editor. III. Kampbell, Sarah M. editor. IV. Series: Ed Rachal Foundation nautical archaeology series. DS155.M38 2015 910.9163'89—dc23 2014042271

Dedication For George and Fred, the father and uncle of nautical archaeology— fast friends, dedicated scholars, and mentors to us all.

Robert Goodman/National Geographic Creative


Foreword xi George F. Bass Introduction xv Abbreviations xix

part i the material culture of maritime economies one

Amphora Standardization and Economic Activity Elizabeth S. Greene and Mark L. Lawall



The Restudy of the LR2 Amphoras from the Seventh- Century Yassıada Shipwreck: Preliminary Evidence for Standardization 17 Peter G. van Alfen


The Metrology of the Piriform Amphoras from the Eleventh- Century Byzantine Ship at Serçe Limanı: New Designs but an Old System 35 Frederick H. van Doorninck Jr.


Plant Remains from the Old Wine Jars on the Byzantine Ship at Yassıada 55 Cheryl A. Ward


The Contribution of the Yassıada Shipwreck Excavation to the Knowledge of Life Aboard Ancient Ships 63 Carlo Beltrame

part ii roman, byzantine, and medieval ships and harbors six

The Madrague de Giens Project in the Wake of the Excavation of the Byzantine Shipwreck at Yassıada 73 Patrice Pomey


From the Excavation of the Yassıada Wreck, Turkey (1961–1964), to the Excavation of the Port Berteau II Wreck, France (1992–1997) 82 Eric Rieth


Reconstructing the Pantano Longarini Ship 91 Sarah M. Kampbell



The Shipwrecks at Yenikapı: Recent Research in Byzantine Shipbuilding 102 Cemal Pulak, Rebecca Ingram, and Michael Jones


TheThirteenth-CenturyGenoese Pamphilus: Similar to the Yassıada Vessel? 116 Furio Ciciliot (Translated by Lilia Campana)

part iii maritime contacts in the roman, byzantine, and medieval mediterranean eleven

The Levanzo I Wreck and the Transfer of Technology by Sea in the Late Roman Mediterranean 127 Jeffrey G. Royal


The Late Antique Coastal Settlement of Aperlae on the Lycian Coast 146 Robert L. Hohlfelder

thirteen Early Byzantine Cyprus: A View from the Sea 157 Justin Leidwanger fourteen Underwater Archaeology and History: The Case of Serçe Limanı 167 Vasilios Christides fifteen

A Medieval Mediterranean Maritime Revolution: Crusading by Sea ca. 1096–1204 174 John H. Pryor


Wrecks and Texts: A Judeo- Arabic Case Study Roxani Margariti


part iv final thoughts s eventeen The Seventh- Century Byzantine Ship at Yassıada and Her Final Voyage: Present Thoughts 205 Frederick H. van Doorninck Jr. Bibliography Contributors Index 243

217 241



Map of the Mediterranean region showing the location of the Yassıada shipwreck as well as ancient and modern places and shipwreck sites mentioned in the text: (1) Albenga; (2) Alonnesos; (3) Avdimou Bay; (4) Bozburun; (5) Cala Culip; (6) Cape Andreas; (7) Cape Gelidonya; (8) Cape Zevgari; (9) Chrétienne; (10) Dor; (11) Gela; (12) Kyrenia; (13) Levanzo; (14) Madrague de Giens; (15) Marina di Fiori; (16) Mateille; (17) Nin; (18) Pabuç Burnu; (19) Pantano Longarini; (20) Planier; (21) Porticello; (22) Punta Ala; (23) Punta del Fenaio; (24) Serçe Limanı; (25) Tektaş Burnu; (26) Uluburun; and (27) Yenikapı.

foreword George F. Bass

Because Frederick van Doorninck Jr.’s chapter of “Final Thoughts” closes this book, the editors invited me, otherwise not a contributor, to open it with a foreword, providing “bookends” for the manuscript. A variety of emotions struck me as I began to compose this foreword to a volume that reflects on an excavation I directed half a century ago, which resulted in its publication a generation ago. First, I am honored that this book is a kind of Festschrift to both me and my colleague and close friend of over 50 years, Frederick van Doorninck Jr. Second, I am humbled and slightly amazed that I was able to make any contribution to Byzantine studies, with which I had neither training nor interest as a preclassical archaeologist when I began the journey that has occupied so much of my life. Next, I am proud that the methodology of my excavation, the creation of which was the impetus for my undertaking the excavation at Yassıada in 1961, had a positive impact on the fieldwork that followed, as pointed out by Patrice Pomey and others in the pages that follow. And I am in awe that leading Byzantinists, not all of whom contributed chapters here, felt they would like to attend and speak at the 2007 symposium in College Station, Texas. Finally, I am grateful for my good fortune to have had so many students who went on to become experts in various areas of specialization, including Deborah Carlson, Elizabeth Greene, Sarah Kampbell, Justin Leidwanger, Roxani Margariti, Cemal Pulak, Jeff Royal, Peter van Alfen, and Cheryl Ward, all of whom contributed to these proceedings. To return to my first point, Fred Hocker provided an apt description of Fred van Doorninck Jr. and me at the symposium when he called us the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of nautical archaeology (without suggesting which of us danced backward in high heels). It is an undeniable fact that neither of us could have accomplished what we did without the other, no more than Fred or Ginger could have created their magic alone. I put together our excavations by assembling staffs, raising funds, obtaining excavation permits, wrestling with customs brokers, hiring local boats, and making sure that engines were fueled and that everyone was housed and fed. This allowed Fred, free of such logistical concerns, to concentrate on what we found and, more importantly, make sense of it all—far better than could I. It is more than fitting that so many of our publications are jointly authored by the two of us. Am  I not the luckiest of archaeologists that fellow- student Fred almost by accident ended up on the excavation staff of my first campaign at Yassıada? Since then he has set the standard for more disparate aspects of archaeology than any other scholar I can think of. He was the first ever to reconstruct on paper an ancient hull from its fragmented seabed remains. He then left such research to J. Richard Steffy and moved on to make startling discoveries about medieval anchors. When others began to follow his lead in anchor studies, he xi

turned to a seminal study of the metrology of Byzantine amphoras. Now he is preparing the third and final volume on the eleventh-century wreck we excavated together at Serçe Limanı. In it he will tie together all of the loose ends and reveal startling discoveries about the nature of the ship, its crew, and its last voyage—just as he made sense of the nature of the hull, crew, and last voyage of the ship we excavated together at Yassıada, after its “final publication,” Yassı Ada I, the catalyst for the 2007 symposium and this volume. The irony is that I would never have excavated a Byzantine site on land. As a student for two years at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in the 1950s, I sometimes did not even get off the tour bus during fall trips around Greece when we stopped at, to me at the time, boring and unattractive Byzantine churches, which held none of the mystery of preclassical sites or symmetric beauty of Classical ruins. My ignorance of the field shows itself in too many of my past published words, constantly being corrected in later publications by Fred, as in his contributions here. Thus, Yassı Ada I, celebrated by the chapters in this book, is a flawed volume, but at least it was published with most of the data needed by others, now or in the future, to make their own reinterpretations of the excavation. My mistakes were manifold. I assumed that the pan-balance weights had lost little of their mass and, therefore, gave Kenneth Sams incorrect figures, which he tried mightily to fit into a coherent and known standard; it took a later graduate student, Cemal Pulak, to point out to me that visual appearance did not reveal the significant weight loss of each of the inlaid disks. I rinsed the mud contents out of the amphoras we raised, as I continued to do until the first campaign of the Serçe Limanı excavation 15 years later, when another graduate student, Donald H. Keith, asked why I was not employing flotation on those contents. I naively said that there would be no organics in the sediment collected in the amphoras during a millennium. He quickly demonstrated how wrong I was, leading us to examine the contents of the seventh-century Yassıada amphoras we raised years later, which in turn allowed Cheryl Ward to write her contribution to these proceedings by an analysis of archaeobotanical remains found in the ship. Carlo Beltrame begins his discussion with the tile firebox. My initial reassembly of the flat, square tiles was simply as a flat hearth, as illustrated in my A History of Seafaring. During a seminar I offered when I taught at the University of Pennsylvania, graduate student Peter Kuniholm folded bits of paper while we were discussing the seventh-century Yassıada ship. “A flat hearth would never work on a rolling ship at sea,” he pointed out. “The same number of tiles could easily have formed a rectangular charcoal grill just like those we see so often in Turkey today.” He proceeded to demonstrate with the paper model he had constructed. Of course he was right, allowing me to correct my embarrassing error in time for the reconstruction illustrated in Archaeology Beneath the Sea, published soon after. I could go on. For example I believe Fred’s interpretation of the inscription on the large steelyard, that Captain George was a priest, is preferable to mine. And I thought there were only a few subtypes of globular amphoras in the cargo, which led me to raise from the wreck only a representative sample during the excavation. This mistake proved to be a blessing in disguise, for most of the amphoras remained on the seabed to be retrieved in the early 1980s, after we had learned to sieve amphora contents and after some Turkish undergraduates cleaning amphoras in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology noticed how many of them bore graffiti, since studied by Fred. All photographs of iron artifacts in the book were taken of our casts in polysulfide rubxii


ber, about which we were so confident that members of our team published articles on it as the ultimate casting material. Alas, decades later we learned, from those replicated artifacts on museum display in Bodrum, that the shelf life of polysulfide rubber was not permanent; the tools began to sag beyond recognition. We now cast with epoxy resin the iron objects that have totally vanished through corrosion. Admittedly, we do not know if the epoxy will crystallize or otherwise break apart in years to come. Similarly, we did not know how long to soak ceramics in fresh water in order to desalinate them. Clearly, we did not soak them long enough. Oil lamps in museum display cases appeared pristine for 30 or more years before the salts inside the fabric began to crystallize, causing their surfaces to exfoliate—leading to proper desalinization by trained conservators with distilled water and sensitive tests for any traces of salt. Some of our techniques are already old- fashioned. Stereo- photogrammetric mapping has been replaced by digital mapping that I do not pretend to understand. Michael Katzev, on the Kyrenia wreck off Cyprus, demonstrated how much more practical were airlifts made of locally available PVC irrigation pipe than the heavy metal pipe we hauled around on the seabed, which was simply based on those used by still earlier pioneers like Cousteau, who called his “the monster.” And if we had decompressed with pure oxygen, as we have now done for years, perhaps Larry Joline would not have suffered the case of bends in 1961 that caused him to limp for the rest of his life. Even the title of Yassı Ada I is in error, for I did not yet realize that it is ungrammatical in Turkish. I took that erroneous, two-word spelling of Yassıada from an old Turkish nautical chart, partly lettered, it seems, by a Turkish sailor not overly concerned with grammatical accuracy. In spite of our pioneering mistakes and the flaws in the book being celebrated, at least the site is published. That was an accomplishment in which I take great pride for a number of reasons. Not only have fewer than a quarter of archaeological excavations ever been published, a disturbing record, but the first two excavators under whom I apprenticed in the 1950s, John L. Caskey and Rodney S. Young, both died tragically before their time. Both had planned to spend their retirement years writing final reports on their decades of brilliant fieldwork. It is due to Rodney Young, however, that I learned not to aim for impossible perfection. I became involved in underwater archaeology in 1960 only because Young, by then my professor, asked me to excavate a ship lost off Cape Gelidonya, Turkey, about 1200 BCe. My university studies in Near Eastern and Bronze Age Aegean archaeology and my initial excavation opportunities on sites in Greece and Turkey had prepared me well for my introduction to shipwreck archaeology, and I am pleased that I was able to make contributions to our knowledge of Late Bronze Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean. In the spring of 1964 I was still writing my dissertation on that site, later published by the American Philosophical Society, when Young said that if I could turn it in by a certain date, I would have my doctorate and be offered an assistant professorship by the University of Pennsylvania. “But I can’t possibly finish by then! I’m still finding ingot parallels.” Young countered by telling me about a prominent archaeologist, whom I knew, who he said was so fearful of making a mistake, so busy making sure each “i” was dotted and “t” crossed, well into his 90s, that he still had not published the excavations he had conducted as a young man. And he never did. Foreword


“Just write ‘The End’ one day and put down your pen,” Young said. “You’ll be finding ingot parallels for the rest of your life. That’s what you’ll be writing follow-up articles on.” My academic career began by my taking his advice. Of course he was right. We are still learning so much about the Cape Gelidonya shipwreck half a century later, from new discoveries at the site and the results of laboratory analyses not available in the 1960s, that I’ve asked Nicolle Hirschfeld to prepare an entirely new volume on it. Meanwhile, everything we discovered in 1960 has been available to other scholars. Former students remind me that I often remarked, “An unpublished wreck is simply a looted wreck!” I have taken Young’s advice to heart and am that rare archaeologist who has published every site he has excavated. Surely the books contain errors, but the basic material is available to generations of future archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, and others who might benefit from it. And they may profit, too, from the errors that I freely admit we pioneers made. Yassı Ada I is dedicated to the memory of Rodney Stuart Young. Does that need explanation?



introduction Deborah N. Carlson and Justin Leidwanger “Splendidly detailed excavation and publication of well-preserved wrecks such as Yassı Ada open rare but magnificent windows on one specific voyage that, as it turns out, failed to reach its destination. Given their tremendous cost in money and man hours, such publications will remain rare.” —Michael McCormick1

The first Mediterranean wreck with substantial hull remains to be excavated in its entirety on the seafloor, the seventh-century Yassıada ship quickly gained considerable attention as both a remarkable archaeological find and a significant step forward in the scientific methodology of shipwreck research.2 At that time, only approximately 70 ancient shipwrecks were known from archaeological publications3—far fewer in any meaningful detail—and underwater investigations were the domain of either nondiving archaeologists or professional divers lacking archaeological training. It was against this background that the team led by George F. Bass pioneered new approaches that brought archaeologists and their techniques directly to the seabed. Developing a methodology for sustained underwater scientific activity presented a tremendous challenge in itself, but adapting standard archaeological techniques of recording and excavation to this new environment was quite another. In doing so, the Yassıada excavation not only revolutionized how archaeologists worked with underwater cultural heritage but also helped to bring the material record of shipwrecks into the mainstream toolkit of historical inquiry. The fruits of the four-year campaign at Yassıada, with more than 3,500 dives logged between 1961 and 1964, continue to benefit the scholarly community long after both the excavation and its publication. For the excavators, the project—somewhat unexpectedly, it seems—launched a longstanding program of Late Antique, Byzantine, and medieval shipwreck investigations off the Turkish coast over the succeeding decades. This legacy, as several of the authors note in this volume, has provided a unique and rich corpus of material for the study of economy and exchange following the dissolution of the Roman Empire. “Effectively the last shipwreck of classical antiquity,”4 the Yassıada vessel stands amid the many changes sweeping the Mediterranean at the end of the ancient world. Yet with the roots of its hull design and construction, its exchange mechanisms and practices, and aspects of maritime life and seafaring culture extending far back into the Greco- Roman era, the ship reflects at once both tradition and transition. As Michael McCormick rightly notes, however, such extensive studies are few, and the reasons are probably obvious: the immense costs in time and resources unfortunately mean that few such publications see the light of day. Here the Yassıada shipwreck again stands apart as its historical narrative and socioeconomic significance continue to be reinterpreted long after the appearance of the 1982 monograph, hailed as “the finest excavation report ever to appear about an ancient Mediterranean ship.”5 Even so, the fact that the word “final” referring to the Yassıada volume appears so frequently in xv

quotes in the pages that follow is a testament to the profound interpretive shifts that have come about in the intervening decades and to the open-mindedness of the original excavators who have welcomed and even pioneered this reevaluation. Indeed, it is a timely reminder that even a site as seemingly well documented as this seventh- century shipwreck is never beyond critique and revision, nor does it run short of secrets to tell. In this spirit, and in reflecting on the contributions of this watershed excavation and publication, the chapters that follow revise and expand our understanding of the historical maritime context of the early Byzantine shipwreck at Yassıada. This volume represents most of the contributions presented at a symposium held 2–4 November 2007 in College Station on the campus of Texas A&M University, headquarters of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, which drew nearly 30 scholars from 10 countries in North America, Europe, and Australia. Prompted by continued interest within the scholarly community nearly a half century after the excavation and 25 years after the publication, the event’s aim was twofold: 1) to examine the impact of the Yassıada project on the historical narrative of shipping, trade, and communication during the early Byzantine era and beyond, as well as on the development of shipwreck archaeology, and 2) to revisit and revise our understanding of the ship, its cargo, and its final voyage in light of more recent scholarship on its material remains and historical context. The 17 contributions that follow have been organized into four parts. The first section is devoted broadly to the material culture of maritime economies. It leads with what once seemed an obscure topic—amphora metrology and standardization— but has since become a focus of a number of studies prompted in part by the findings from the Yassıada cargo. Using the Archaic and Classical Aegean as their example, Elizabeth Greene and Mark Lawall take up the thorny issue of what standardization (or lack thereof ) represents in terms of economic mechanisms of exchange in antiquity. The following chapter, by Peter van Alfen, explores possible administrative and economic rationales behind the most recent findings of the Yassıada amphora study, which suggests a series of closely controlled standard sizes among the largest groups of jars. Frederick van Doorninck Jr.’s analysis of one group of amphoras from the eleventh-century Serçe Limanı shipwreck—the standardized jars that spurred the subsequent inquiry into the Yassıada assemblage—provides insight into how pottery workshops may have manipulated the linear dimensions of containers in regular ways to control their volumes and ensure regular capacity intervals. Beyond their capacities, the contents of the Yassıada jars remain problematic, an issue Cheryl Ward addresses in the next chapter through her archaeobotanical study. Rounding out this section is a study looking primarily at the noncommercial aspects of the seventh-century assemblage. Carlo Beltrame surveys material evidence for the daily life of ancient Mediterranean mariners to offer a deeper understanding of the human experience at sea in antiquity. The detailed recording and reconstruction of the Yassıada ship’s hull has had a profound impact on our understanding of maritime technology in the Late Antique and early medieval world, a topic to which the second group of papers is dedicated. Patrice Pomey’s contribution explores how the Yassıada investigations pioneered technical methodologies as well as a range of questions that laid the intellectual foundations for other projects around the Mediterranean, including the large-scale excavation of the massive Roman shipwreck at Madrague de Giens. With a greater corpus of known sites, including the similarly dated Port Berteau II wreck, Eric Rieth revisits the techniques of Late Antique and early medieval hull construction, including the persistently thorny issue of multiple technological trajectories in the development of “frame-first” architecture. Sarah Kampbell’s new reconstruction of xvi


the early medieval Pantano Longarini ship as a coastal lighter underscores the complexity of technological phenomena, suggesting that ship designers during this period remained open to diversity, adaptation, and change to meet local needs and circumstances. On the other hand, that certain features or traditions might remain in use for considerable durations even across political and cultural boundaries is suggested by Furio Ciciliot’s contribution exploring the possible relationship between earlier Byzantine naval architecture and that of later medieval Italian vessels. No archaeological site exemplifies the changing character of the Byzantine Mediterranean better than the harbor at Yenikapı, Turkey, where Cemal Pulak and his collaborators have ensured the legacy of detailed and thoughtful ship recording and interpretation that began with the Yassıada shipwreck. The third section of this volume includes chapters focusing on commerce and communication in the Late Antique and medieval Mediterranean. Embracing the debate over the role of state intervention in exchange, Jeffrey Royal argues that a mixed western Mediterranean cargo of amphoras and North African tubi fittili from the Levanzo I shipwreck, which sank off the coast of Sicily during Late Antiquity, reflects annona-driven exchange between North Africa and Italy. A chapter by Robert Hohlfelder provides comparative evidence from the small harbor of Aperlae along the Lycian shore of Turkey, where a bustling coastal trade ended abruptly with the tumult that enveloped the eastern Mediterranean shortly after the Yassıada vessel’s final voyage in the early seventh century. The complementary utilization of data from shipwrecks, ports, and other underwater contexts forms the focus of Justin Leidwanger’s chapter, which offers a closer look at the dynamics of Cyprus’s busy regional maritime economy at the end of antiquity. Vasilios Christides introduces the last few chapters in this section with his contribution stressing the critical need for a manifold approach to writing Byzantine and medieval maritime history that incorporates archaeological evidence alongside textual sources. John Pryor explores several potential breakthroughs that may have alleviated some of the tremendous logistical demands associated with moving Crusading men and supplies by sea, including the organization of fleets into smaller squadrons along with certain technical improvements in night sailing and navigational knowledge. Moving beyond the Mediterranean, Roxani Margariti presents a comparative view of contemporary seafaring in the Indian Ocean, drawing together sources—primarily a rich corpus of textual evidence—for shipbuilding, seafaring, and exchange among the medieval merchants of Arabia and India. A final section with a single chapter by Frederick van Doorninck Jr. concludes the volume and reflects a radical update from the interpretation of the site as published in 1982. His conclusions now point to a church ship sunk during the mid- to late-620s while engaged in the task of supplying provisions to the imperial armies engaged in war against Persia. Van Doorninck’s dedication to all aspects of the Yassıada vessel study traces back to his days as a graduate student and has not wavered even well into retirement. His energies and enthusiasm have not only kept alive the study but have helped to fuel interest in the ship well beyond the realm of maritime archaeology. We therefore feel extraordinarily privileged that he agreed to share his new interpretations of the vessel, its cargo, and the broader historical implications of what remains to this day a “rare but magnificent window.” We would like to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance of the many partners whose sponsorship made the 2007 symposium possible: the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas Introduction


A&M University, the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, the Marine Technology Society’s Houston Section, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Thetis Foundation. Our heartfelt thanks to the external reviewers of the original manuscript for their supportive comments and insightful suggestions, as well as to INA Archivist Megan Anderson for her able assistance with images and permissions and to Stephanie Koeing for her generous assistance with proofreading and editing. We extend our sincere appreciation to the staff of Texas A&M University Press, and we thank the individual authors for their thoughtful and careful contributions as well as their patience and support throughout the delays in the preparation of this volume, which included the completion and defense of two PhD dissertations, a tenure-track job search, a tenure-and-promotion case, and the births of four children. Notes 1. M. McCormick, “Movement and markets in the First Millennium: Information, Containers, and shipwrecks,” in Trade and Markets in Byzantium, ed. C. Morrison, p. 79. 2. A full account of the excavation methodology by season is provided in G. F. Bass, “The Excavation,” in Yassı Ada I: A Seventh-Century Byzantine Shipwreck, ed. G. F. Bass and F. H. van Doorninck Jr., pp. 9–31. A more popular narrative of these developments at Yassıada is available in G. F. Bass, Archaeology Beneath the Sea. 3. A. J. Parker, “Method and Madness: Wreck Hunting in Shallow Water,” Progress in Underwater Science 4 (1979): 8 tbl. 1. 4. A. J. Parker, “Sea Transport and Economic Change in the Roman Empire: The Evidence of Mediterranean Shipwrecks,” in Schutz des Kulturerbes unter Wasser: Veränderungen europäischer Lebenskultur durch Fluss- und Seehandel, ed. H. Von Schmettow, p.196. 5. K. M. Petruso, Review of Yassı Ada I: A Seventh-Century Byzantine Shipwreck, Archaeology 36.1 (1983):73. For the publication of the Yassıada shipwreck, see G. F. Bass and F. H. von Doorninck Jr., ed., Yassı Ada, Volume I: A Seventh-Century Byzantine Shipwreck.





American Journal of Archaeology


Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research


Bulletin de correspondance hellénique


Dumbarton Oaks Papers


International Journal of Nautical Archaeology


Journal of Archaeological Science


Journal of Roman Archaeology


The Mariner’s Mirror


Institute of Nautical Archaeology


Late Roman Amphora 1


Late Roman Amphora 2


Late Roman Amphora 2a


Late Roman Amphora 2b


Late Roman Amphora 13


part i the material culture of maritime economies


Amphora Standardization and Economic Activity Elizabeth S. Greene and Mark L. Lawall

A significant feature of any economic transaction is the consumer’s ability to determine the value of the goods in question with some acceptable level of accuracy.1 Modern packaging provides clues to help the consumer make a swift, somewhat informed, and acceptably reliable decision about the purchase at hand. Recognizable sizes, shapes, and labels on today’s cans and bottles imbue the everyday object with a social valence that signals not only the specific commodity inside the container but also the history of branding and the consumer’s own experiences.2 Transport amphoras, as the surviving ancient containers par excellence, bear much of our scrutiny and often-high expectations for conveying commercial or economic information such as point of origin, content and quality of the goods they contain, and precise amounts of the commodities in question.3 Because they carried hundreds or even thousands of amphoras, shipwrecks are one of the best sources for the study of transport amphoras as markers of economic activity. Van Doorninck and van Alfen in this volume suggest that, certainly by the seventh century CE, amphoras could and often did reveal just such evidence for producer and contents, including a metrology so precise that scholars (and ancient consumers?) can distinguish between vessels of closely neighboring weight sizes. Such fixed standards, they argue, facilitated production and distribution, calculation of taxes and customs, and state control over the agricultural economy. The enforcement of known standards can reduce transaction costs, which are the price of doing business for the shipper and the consumer. The degree to which such economic systems may have been a product of the Roman and Byzantine world is highlighted by a contrast with the earlier Greek world, where ceramic transport jars often fail to communicate even such basic elements as point of origin, content, and capacity. Very different mechanisms of exchange were likely at work, particularly in the proto-monetary Archaic period. Through a preliminary analysis of the amphora cargo of a shipwreck dating to the second quarter of the sixth century BCE at Pabuç Burnu, near Bodrum or ancient Halikarnassos (fig. 1.1), this chapter asks how transactions occurred without the guarantee of standardized containers that hold identifiable contents.4 What sort of trading mechanisms are possible in an exchange system marked by a level of ignorance about containers and the quality and quantity of their contents?5 This investigation throws into clearer relief the extent of economic developments achieved by the later Byzantine Mediterranean.

Local and Regional Styles A basic tenet of amphora studies is that the formal characteristics of an amphora reveal information about its place of origin and that the appearance of an amphora offers a message to 3

Figure 1.1. Map of southeast Aegean and location of Pabuç Burnu shipwreck (M. Polzer).

the consumer about the contents and the producing city’s pride in the marketing of that commodity.6 The amphora shape, like a city’s coin type, served as a badge of the city and an advertisement of its processed agricultural goods.7 Such a conclusion rests on two significant assumptions: 1) that potters, agricultural producers, and merchants took deliberate steps to increase sales through such means of advertising, and 2) that amphora shapes facilitated transactions by providing clear information as to the origins and, hence, qualities of the products they contained. These assumptions are debatable. There is growing evidence that, in many cases, shape alone would not have given very precise indications of origin. Approximately 250 intact and fragmentary amphoras from the shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu illustrate this issue. The main type of amphora (numbering ca. 175) has a semifine medium brown to darker or reddish-brown fabric that generally resembles ceramics from Halikarnassos and Knidos (fig. 1.2).8 The second most common type of amphora on the wreck (numbering ca. 50–75) can be distinguished from the primary type through subtle differences in both form (the lower part of the rim is carinated and turns down with a concave profile to a smooth join with the neck wall; the ring toe has short, less-flaring sides and often a shallower hollow underneath) and fabric (tan in color and comprised of a compact and finer clay that resembles that of Hellenistic Rhodian wares) (fig. 1.3).9 4

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Figure 1.2. Halikarnassian type amphora from Pabuç Burnu (B. Guneşdoğdu).

Figure 1.3. Tan fabric / Rhodian type amphora from Pabuç Burnu (B. Guneşdoğdu).

While differences between the two major types of amphoras from the Pabuç Burnu shipwreck are evident upon close examination, the degree to which subtle variants in form and fabric would have signaled significant differences to a consumer about the product they contained or its region of origin is unclear. There is a scholarly tendency to attribute the basic rim and toe form demonstrated by both types of amphoras on the Pabuç Burnu shipwreck to a general Samian-Milesian category.10 Thanks to the work of Pierre Dupont and others, however, many different producers of this generic form are known or considered very likely: Miletos, Samos, Ephesos, central Ionia nearer the area of Erythrai or Klazomenai, Kos, and south into Caria, including the area of Knidos. Some general tendencies in details of the forms of these production areas’ jars may differentiate more northern examples from those produced farther south. The more northern products tend to have a thicker, rounded rim; southern products tend to have a rim with an echinoid profile; but there are exceptions to these patterns.11 The catchment area for certain general regional styles, then, could be quite large. At the same time, certain regions such as Chios, Attica-Euboeia, and Corinth seem to have produced forms that were limited to a fairly small area, even in the Archaic period.12 Does formal specificity arise from a desire to make a particular product more recognizable to a consumer? For example, late Archaic and especially Classical amphora production on Chios, a region famed throughout antiquity for its wine, bore little resemblance to that of its neighbors. Occasional forms or details of forms link Chian amphoras to the mainland, and the jars are occasionally confused with amphoras from Klazomenai, but for the most part, Chian jars are distinct to that island.13 As a more concrete example of true Archaic “branding,” the Amphora Standardization


Panathenaic amphoras from Athens, which contained sacred oil awarded to competition victors, fall into a clear category of uniquely marked and carefully measured containers.14 As is well known, the identification of the point of origin of various late Classical and Hellenistic amphoras was, at times, accomplished by markings stamped into the handle or neck of the jar before firing. Such stamps rarely appear on Archaic transport amphoras. The amphoras from Pabuç Burnu are occasionally marked by small “o” stamps, and a single rectangular stamp may contain a monogram or palmette.15 And yet these are so infrequent and uninformative that they could not have served as a reliable marker of a trusted product from a known region. In short, while certain amphora shapes and markings may occasionally have offered a particular advantage in certain markets or economic environments by promoting their specific city of origin, other jars may simply have provided a visual reference to their broader region; still others may simply have served to bring goods to market, before their contents were announced and sold through the interactions between buyer and seller without any reference to the container itself. The lack of a specific local reference point provided by the appearance of the containers echoes the situation among the amphoras that held the cargo of the seventh-century CE shipwreck at Yassıada. Although the particular origins of the Yassıada jars are not yet entirely certain, the commonly occurring LR2 (a and b) jars were likely made throughout the Aegean region; the LR1 jars appear to have been produced primarily in Cilicia and Cyprus.16 Like the Pabuç Burnu amphoras, each of these two types is characterized by a broad general region of production and its form does not necessarily facilitate the identification of a single city of origin. This is not to say that the appearance of the amphora was never an informative element in ancient transactions, but amphora appearance cannot be considered a reliable and consistent source of economic information for ancient merchants or consumers.

Contents A second class of information that might be sought from the appearance of an amphora is the nature of its contents. Particularly in terms of the original or intended use of the vessel, there is a general assumption of consistency of the relationship between amphora type and its contents.17 And yet finds from shipwrecks in particular have introduced a much greater range of products in amphoras than was assumed to be the case. Jars raised from survey and excavation contexts have brought to light an immensely wide range of potential amphora contents—from wine and olive oil to olives, almonds, figs, pitch, and orpiment.18 Hellenistic and Roman papyri, ostraka, and tituli picti expand upon such archaeological data.19 The end result is a striking difference between the contents predicted by a given amphora type and actual uses and reuses. As early as the Archaic and Classical periods, Greek poets praised particular processed and unprocessed agricultural goods from certain locales, and these tended to be labeled by city rather than a broader geographic region. Homeric epics described the mythic qualities of Maroneian wine; Archilochus lauded wine from Naxos and Ismaros. In fifth-century BCE Athens, commercial center extraordinaire, raisins (Rhodes), apples (Euboeia), and dates (Phoenicia) received civic or regional specifiers, as poets recorded both the type of commodity and even, occasionally, the season during which it was commercially available.20 Although any of these items could be and surely was occasionally transported in amphoras,


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an extremely high degree of agricultural specialization and large-scale surplus production would be necessary for a region’s amphora producers to cater only to one specific agricultural product such as wine. If such levels of production were in play, one might also anticipate the need for related organizational artifacts such as the intensive use of stamping and improved standardization. For the Archaic through Hellenistic periods, such conditions are rarely met, but fourth–third century BCE Thasos and later third–second century BCE Rhodes as wine producers may prove good candidates, even if in the former case other products are clearly attested.21 The fact that many preserved papyri specify the contents of different jars indicates not only how little might be determined from simply the appearance of the jar but also the importance of perishable commercial records to the shipping process.22 For the sixth-century BCE amphoras from Pabuç Burnu, sieving of intact jars from the site revealed a predominance of grape seeds over other organics. Some amphora fragments still retain a coating of resin, which is commonly associated with the packaging of wine. Such evidence, however, does not require that all of the jars of similar appearance held wine— whether on this particular voyage or at some other point in their use-life. Even for a cargo where the majority of the amphoras appear to date to an approximately similar time frame, the possibility remains of refilling and reshipment. Depending on the mechanics of sale, a merchant might even take a return cargo of empty jars rather than make a risky voyage with no hope of even such a slight profit. As a second example, the Rhodian stamps from the Kyrenia shipwreck represent a minimum span of four years. At the same time, there is extensive damage to the jars—missing handles, worn-down rims and toes, even holes worn through the vessel walls. If even some of this damage and wear is attributable to ancient use, such vessels appear to be in a state of reuse.23 Indeed, Peña compiles an impressive list of new uses for old or even partial amphoras, including their service as urinals, basins, strainers, boundary markers, libation tubes or funnels, stoppers for other amphoras, ostraka or media for other texts, sarcophagi, and perhaps most importantly, building material.24 Analysis of organic residues and other means of determining the contents of containers hold potential to clarify when and to what extent amphora types could be associated with specific contents.25 For now, the notion that branding, or the identification of specific contents held in specific containers, was a construct that functioned similarly in the Archaic world as it does today requires qualification. With respect to the association between an amphora’s visual appearance and its contents, even by the early Byzantine period, amphora shapes—which in some situations like military supply could be highly standardized—did not always give everyday consumers the full range of market information they might desire. The frequency of reuse of jars meant that form alone did not provide sufficient indication of specific contents. Added dipinti, graffiti, and other forms of labeling could provide the information that containers alone do not offer.26

Capacity A final sort of information that might be gained from an amphora was the amount of the commodity it carried. On shipwrecks, amphora capacities allow for estimates of the volume of the total shipment. Standardization of amphora capacity is widely assumed to have been a requirement for efficient commerce, based on an underlying premise that consumers would need assurance that a particular type of jar carried a specific commodity in a known quantity.

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Methodology There are two major methodological traditions in this area: 1) direct and repeatable measurements using water or polystyrene beads, and 2) calculations from linear measurements.27 Van Doorninck’s study in this volume (Chapter 3) of the metrology of 89 piriform amphoras from the Byzantine shipwreck at Serçe Limanı reveals a remarkably accurate process through which the capacities of amphoras were standardized according to a known system of weights and measures (namely the Byzantine litrai and lepta). His calculations suggest that in the eleventh century potters used strict systems of linear measurement to guarantee that their amphoras would hold capacities that fit within certain measurement ranges. The piriform jars of particular measures generally vary less than 3 percent from each other, hewing closely to the standard. Such a system of measurement would have been critical for shipments of fixed rations like the annona or sales within strictly regulated settings. Van Doorninck’s results suggest a direct correlation between linear and volumetric measurements. Such a correlation in this particular case lends support to those who calculate capacities from linear dimensions of complete or fragmentary jars. It remains to be demonstrated, however, that such correlations exist for other amphora classes and other periods. The two methodologies can be complementary. The degree of uniformity (or lack thereof ) revealed by direct measurement informs the relative ease with which ancient consumers could have ensured they received a guaranteed quantity of a particular commodity from a particular place. The range of different ideal standards emerging from linear measurements reveals the relative ease in converting standards and calculating size and value of a given cargo. All of this, however, assumes that measurable dimensions and volumes played a key role in transactions between buyer and seller and perhaps at other stages of the amphoras’ usage: from production and filling to distribution and consumption. This assumption becomes problematic when, as is the case with the Pabuç Burnu shipwreck’s amphoras, the containers do not seem to adhere well to any consistent standards of capacity. Implications of Nonstandardized Jars Linear and volumetric (taken with polystyrene beads) measurements on the 28 intact jars that reflect the two types (21 of the Halikarnassian type; at least 3, but perhaps as many as 7, of the tan fabric or Rhodian form) reveal a relative similarity in the dimensions of vessels throughout the set, alongside a fairly distinct lack of standardization between the jars (fig. 1.4).28 The jars in the sample set display variations in form and fabric suggestive of at least two different regions but are consistent enough in measurements and volumes that they cause few changes in the aggregate capacity data. While the average total capacity of the Pabuç Burnu jars falls at about 19 L, the largest and smallest amphoras in the sample set were marked by a volumetric difference of nearly 6 L (more than 30 percent of the average total capacity, or a possible difference of 15 percent above or below the mean). The range of measurements changes little when capacities are evaluated in “short measures,” that is, jars filled only to the neck-shoulder join, the most obvious signal of a visually full but still sealable jar. Nor does it become more regular when we narrow the sample size to include only the 21 jars in the local, or Halikarnassian, type. Such disparities in volumetric measurements would appear to deny the possibility that potters were strictly concerned with crafting their amphoras according to a particular capacity standard—local or otherwise; neither Attic, Thasian, Chian choes, nor any mathematically calculated measure provide suitable or consistent measurement standards for the sample set.29 8

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Figure 1.4. Capacity chart (in liters) of intact amphoras (courtesy E. S. Greene).

In terms of linear measurements, the vessels are largely consistent; in measurements of height and diameter, intact containers of all fabrics in the sample set fell within 6 to 8 percent of a mean height of about 51 cm and a mean diameter of 30.5 cm. Such consistency may suggest that potters were crafting their containers to general optical standards of height and diameter, if expressing less concern with the resultant capacities. Seemingly minor discrepancies in fabric thickness and vessel shape have significant implications for the vessel’s capacity. Certainly the potters were not constrained by preapportioned quantities of clay. Weight measurements of the 28 vessels range from 3.6 to 5.8 kg; the weights may vary by as much as 25 percent of the mean. A key question is raised by these poorly standardized jars: what sort of market transactions involve jars of approximately similar linear measurements whose individual capacities can vary jar to jar by as much as 30 percent? A commonly visible phenomenon even today in the informal markets of the Mediterranean and elsewhere resolves the transport of liquid and solid goods in unstandardized containers with an additional form of measurement conducted directly between buyer and seller.30 This process, which takes place at the moment of purchase, demands a stage of measurement conducted in the presence of buyer and seller, as well as a set of measuring equipment. Similarly, in the grain markets of Burkina Faso, traders measure grain in a market setting using an assortment of vessels, including ladles, tin cans, and enameled bowls and baskets in an array of sizes. Some have a notional correspondence to fixed measures; others do not. Additionally, merchants’ manipulation of fill levels has an impact on the amount of wheat measured by a single vessel.31 Evidence for such measuring by the sailors of the ship that sank at Pabuç Burnu may appear in the coarseware ceramics from the wreck, which include four intact mortaria, four oinochoai (pitchers), and fragments comprising another two to four pitchers of approximately similar size. Their findspots, generally in the upslope (or eastern) galley area of the ship, suggest that they were not intended as cargo, and their numbers seem unnecessarily high for the preparation or serving of food, especially on a vessel with a cargo that otherwise suggests voyages of a primarily local nature. For dry goods such as raisins or olives, carried in amphoras, or perhaps more likely in sacks, measurements at the point of sale may have been conducted by merchants in any of the four mortaria found on the wreck (fig. 1.5). Such vessels might have functioned as Amphora Standardization


Figure 1.5. Mortarium from Pabuç Burnu (B. Guneşdoğdu).

portable  vehicles for the measurement of dry goods such as raisins, olives, grain, figs, or another archaeologically invisible product.32 Support for such an interpretation for the mortaria at Pabuç Burnu comes from the relatively consistent size of the vessels. The diameters of the four mortaria range from 34.6 to 38.5 cm; their heights range from 8.5 to 10.8 cm. Within this smallish sample set, the measurements of both height and diameter for each vessel fall within ±10 percent of the mean. While these dimensions are probably not consistent enough to suggest a fixed measure of dry capacity, they would seem to suggest a means by which a seller could provide to a buyer portions of dry goods in relatively small quantities.33 By a similar rationale, for fractional liquid measures, the various pitchers from the wreck would seem appropriate devices (fig. 1.6). Such units of measurement (i.e., smaller than the amphora and arguably more precise) would be of potential utility to merchants on both ends of the transaction: those picking up a cargo for shipboard transport and potential consumers. Just as merchants often appear to have carried individual sets of weights and measures (which are not found on this wreck), so too might they have traveled with their own containers to achieve a standard of tare familiar at least to the individual merchants, if not known in advance by consumers. Capacity measurements performed on four of the oinochoai from the wreck, however, reveal a similar level of imprecision to the amphoras. The four pitchers, three comprised of a similar fabric to the amphoras we have tentatively labeled as Rhodian and one of the Halikarnassian fabric, range in capacity from 1.70 to 2.04 L (as measured with polystyrene beads to the neck- shoulder join), with an average capacity of 1.92 L. This average, perhaps importantly, is only slightly more than one-tenth of the average capacity of the jars, and the pitchers display a similar range, as if ten pitchers of liquid might have been the approximate yield of a jar, portioned out into individual measures. Such uses of the shipboard ceramics for measurement cannot be proven. The mortaria, as the more narrowly standardized vessels, seem better candidates for this purpose than the oinochoai; yet the standardization of the mortaria might stem from requirements for their more common use in food preparation. On the ship, they may have been in service simply as robust bowls. The poor degree of standardization in the ship’s freight containers and the lack of clear evidence for measuring devices on the ship itself together raise two possibilities: 1) such precise measurement was simply not part of the transaction process; or 2) the process of measurement depended less on tools and conventions and more on the direct and detailed interaction between merchant and buyer at the port. The process of exchange implied by this second possibility—the division of bulk commodities into smaller measured quantities, done in the presence of the consumer—comes with a fairly high cost of doing business. A significant amount of time would be required for the multiple measurements undertaken 10

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Figure 1.6. Oinochoe from Pabuç Burnu (B. Guneşdoğdu).

by volume or by weight.34 Indeed, the very nature of the apportioning process assumes that the contents are placed into new containers, perhaps brought to new markets by the initial, portside consumer. Such a model likely implies reuse of empty containers, the appearance of which bears no guarantee that their contents will be the same upon each trip to market. The merchant’s claim of the quantity of goods—however that had been determined—would be confirmed by the buyer’s vessels.35 Once the consumer’s vessels were brought into the process (and we need not imagine a complete replacement of merchant’s vessels for consumers; just enough that both sides were satisfied as to the quantities being exchanged), the distance between vessel type and specific contents would only grow. While such a reconstruction of individualized transactions may be possible for the distribution of commodities in small amounts, it works less well for bulk shipments or sales. The transaction costs associated with selling the liquid contents of more than 250 amphoras, along with a possible further cargo of dry goods, seem impossibly high. This problem returns us to the first of the two possibilities raised earlier: that multiple measurements were not considered necessary in transactions of this scale. The measurement process envisioned for smaller and perhaps more frequent transactions could engender a bond of trust between buyer and seller. Such bonds could, in turn, lead to the gradual development of an expedited market process, whereby the tasting and measuring stages become superfluous. If we imagine a first stage of interaction whereby small quantities are exchanged through the testing, tasting, and measuring of small quantities of product, later interactions between the same transactors might then be regulated by the social relationships of individual transactors. Their shared ideology of equity in exchange and mutually agreed-upon views as to the evaluation of particular commodities may have served the same function that closely regulated Amphora Standardization


standards ensure for unknown buyers and sellers. Such relationships would facilitate the sale of bulk goods in unmarked and nonstandardized containers, trusted largely because of an association with their distributors, whose commitment to a quality product was assured by social bonds, not specific containers. Hence, measurement and standardization were simply unnecessary.36

Amphoras and Coins in Transactions Numismatic evidence for sixth-century BCE coinage approximately similar in date to the Pabuç Burnu amphoras may offer support for this model of distribution by which regional, processed agricultural products, their containers, and their sellers only gradually developed brand equity or brand recognition. Such a model may be seen in the fractional coinage of a sixth-century BCE hoard from Abdera in Northern Greece, published by Jonathan Kagan.37 Among seventeen silver hemiobols, small denomination coins weighing an average of about three-tenths of a gram (.324 g), the weights of individual coins can vary by as much as 12 percent from the average, or assumed, standard. Taken as representative fractional coins, the small denominations lead to quite significant differences in larger denominations, such as the octadrachm, the weight of which could range from nearly 28 g to more than 34 g, quite a difference in the amount of precious metal exchanged.38 This is somewhat less than the 30 percent potential difference in amphoras from the Pabuç Burnu set but raises similar questions about the degree to which early coins or early amphoras deserve to be treated as certifiable markers of specific weights or capacities. Based on such disparity in the weights of fractional coins of similar appearance, Kagan raises the question of fiduciarity in early coinage and suggests that, used locally, smalldenomination coinage would carry the badge of a certifying agent and be counted in economic exchange as symbolic of an accepted standard, freely exchangeable for larger denominations.39 In the case of regional, international, or simple exchange between people who might not trust the marked currency, the coinage functions more like bullion, remeasured and recertified in each transaction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, unlike the far more precise electrum coinage known from Asia Minor, this early and rather poorly standardized silver coinage in small denominational fractions, found in hoards in places including Selinus, Taranto, Sambiase, Ras Shamra, Asyut, and other cities of Asia Minor, tends not to travel far from its point of origin.40 For local exchanges in the Archaic world based on silver or the contents of amphoras, some degree of interpersonal relationships, a notion perhaps at odds with maximized efficiency in transactions, should be assumed. Although amphoras of the general type found at Pabuç Burnu see circulation throughout the Mediterranean, there is no evidence that our ship had embarked on anything other than a local voyage. For such a local or regional market venture, the type of amphora carried by the merchants was probably of less importance than the contents, traded in bulk quantities with trusted transactors or in measured quantities with unknown buyers. But while the spread of coinage led rapidly to the precision of small and large denomination issues in the fifth century BCE, and while cities such as Athens set up standards for weights and measures of coinage and volumes, along with regulatory processes designed to enforce them, the standardization of capacity measure took longer to follow suit. The capacities of tested amphoras from the fifth-century BCE wrecks at Tektaş Burnu and Alonnesos, along with fourth-century BCE cargoes from Porticello and Kyrenia, reveal a relatively similar lack of standardization in their 12

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capacities: sample sets of measured amphoras tend to deviate at least 10 percent from any average capacity.41 Only in the early third-century BCE does evidence from the ZH- group of amphoras on the Hellenistic shipwreck at Serçe Limanı and Corinthian B jars found in the harbor at Gela reveal more precise standardization for amphora cargoes.42 Such a lack of interest in standardization might imply that, for the large-scale shipment of bulk cargoes, socially embedded concepts of trust or the horizontal bonds created between consistent trading partners played a lingering and significant role. For small-scale local exchanges, phenomena visible in contemporary Mediterranean markets suggest that individual consumers rarely trust prepackaged goods from unknown sellers but may accept potentially unequal divisions when dealing with a known agent. In the Archaic and Classical worlds, then, capacity measurements—or an overall lack of attention to capacity standards in coarseware transport amphoras—seem to provide subtle clues to the sorts of transactions undertaken on agricultural products. Standards of capacity and quality, then, may serve as markers for the nature of exchange in the increasingly less-embedded economic systems of the rapidly changing Mediterranean world between the sixth century BCE and the seventh century CE. Notes 1. Although generally earlier than most of the contributions in this volume, the topic seems appropriate for a Festschrift in honor of Bass and van Doorninck, inasmuch as Bass’s direction of the Pabuç Burnu excavation and van Doorninck’s guidance and advice on capacity measurements made this study possible. 2. See, for example, on the fundamental characteristics of brands, including their informative power, W. Grassl, “The Reality of Brands: Towards an Ontology of Marketing,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 58 (1999) and D. A. Aaker, Managing Brand Equity. For the impact of branding in a South Indian bazaar setting at Kalakkadu, see F. S. Fanselow, “The Bazaar Economy or How Bizarre Is the Bazaar Really,” Man n.s. 25 (1990): 313–59, esp. 252–54. 3. For example, J. K. Davies, “Hellenistic Economies in the Post-Finley Era,” in Hellenistic Economies, ed. Z. H. Archibald et al., pp. 27–29; cf. M. L. Lawall, “Amphoras and Hellenistic Economies: Addressing the (Over)Emphasis on Stamped Amphora Handles,” in Making, Moving, and Managing: The New World of Ancient Economies, 323–31 BC, ed. Z. H. Archibald et al., pp. 189–96. 4. A preliminary report of the sixth-century BCE shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu—its cargo, construction, and socioeconomic context—can be found in E. S. Greene et al., “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Sixth-Century B.C. Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey,” AJA 112 (2008): 685–711. 5. C. Geertz, “The Bazaar Economy: Information and Search in Peasant Marketing,” American Economic Review 68 (1978) and P. F. Bang, The Roman Bazaar: A Comparative Study of Trade and Markets in a Tributary Empire offer stimulating discussions of the bazaar economy as one marked by such lacunae of information. 6. For example, V. R. Grace, “Wine Jars,” Classical Journal 42 (1947): 446, 449. 7. C. G. Koehler, “Handling of Greek Transport Amphoras,” in Recherches sur les amphores grecques, ed. J.-Y. Empereur and Y. Garlan; M. Gras, “Amphores commerciales et histoire archaïque,” Dialoghi di Archeologia 5 (1987). 8. Greene et al., “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Sixth- Century B.C. Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey,” pp. 688–92. 9. Ibid., p. 692. 10. See, for example, the cargo descriptions in L. Long et al., Les Étrusques en mer. The distances traveled by jars from particular regions may have been significant to the specificity of form. 11. For the common presence of this type across the broad region, see, for example, Y. E. Ersoy, Clazomenae: The Archaic Settlement, PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, pp. 413–20; Y. E. Ersoy, “Klazomenai: 900–500 BC: History and Settlement Evidence,” in Klazomenai, Teos and Abdera: Metropoleis and Colony: Proceedings of the International Symposium held at the Archaeological Museum of Abdera: Abdera, 20–21 October 2001, ed. A. Moustaka et al. (Klazomenai); V. Gassner, Das Südtor

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der Tetragonos-Agora: Keramik und Kleinfunde (Ephesos); T. G. Schattner, “Die Fundkeramik,” in Ein Kultbezirk an der Heiligen Straße von Milet nach Didyma (Didyma III.1 Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen und Untersuchungen seit dem Jahre 1962), ed. K. Tuchelt (Didyma); W. Voigtlander, “Funde aus der Insula westlich des Bouleuterion in Milet,” Istanbuler Mitteilungen 32 (1982) (Miletos); W.-D. Niemeier, “Die Zierde Ioniens. Ein archaischer Brunnen der jüngere Athenatempel und Milet vor der Perserzerstörung,” Archäologischer Anzeiger (1999) (Miletos); W. Radt, Siedlungen und Bauten auf der Halbinsel von Halikarnassos unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der archaischen Epoche (IstMitt Beiheft 3) (Bodrum region); for petrographic studies, see I. K. Whitbread, Greek Transport Amphorae: A Petrological and Archaeological Study, pp. 122–33; A. W. Johnston and T. de Domingo, “Trade between Kommos, Crete and East Greece: A Petrographic Study of Archaic Transport Amphorae,” in Archaeological Sciences 1995. Proceedings of a Conference on the Application of Scientific Techniques to the Study of Archaeology, Liverpool, July 1995, ed. A. Sinclair et al., pp. 64–66; V. Gassner, Materielle Kultur und kulturelle Identität in Elea in spätarchaisch-frühklassischer Zeit. Untersuchungen zur Gefäß- und Baukeramik aus der Unterstadt (Grabungen 1987–1994), pp. 123–29; for chemical studies, see P. Dupont, “Amphores commerciales archaiques de la Grèce de l’Est,” La parola del passato 37 (1982); P. Dupont, “Amphores ‘samiennes’ archaïques: Sources de confusion et questionnements,” in Ceràmiques jònies d’època arcaica. Centres de producció i commercialització al Mediterrani occidental, ed. P. Cabrera Bonet and M. Santos Retolaza; P. Dupont, “Amphores ‘samiennes’ archaïques de mer Noire (approche archéométrique),” in Greki i varvary na Bospore Kimmerijskom VII-I vv. do n. e.: materialy meždunarodnoj naučnoj konferencii Taman’ (Rossija), oktjabr’ 2000, 64–75, St. Petersburg [Greeks and Natives in the Cimmerian Bosporus 7th–1st Centuries BC]. Proceedings of the International Conference, October 2000, Taman, Russia, ed. L. Solovyov (Samos, Miletos, and possibly central Ionia); M. Seifert, “Überlegungen zur Anwendung naturwissenschaftlicher Methoden bei der Herkunftbestimmung von Keramik,” Hephaistos 14 (1996); M. Seifert, “Archaische Vorrats- und Transportamphoren in Milet,” Münstersche Beiträge zur antiken Handelsgeschichte 19 (2000); M. Seifert, Herkunftsbestimmung archaischer Keramik am Beispiel von Amphoren aus Milet (Miletos); M. Kerschner and H. Mommsen, “Transportamphoren milesischen Typs in Ephesos. Archäometrische und archäologische Untersuchungen zum Handel im archaischen Ionien,” in Synergia: Festschrift für Friedrich Krinzinger, ed. B. Brandt et al. (Ephesos); C. Kantzia, “Ένα κεραμικό εργαστήριο αμφορέων του πρώτου μισού του 4ου αι. π.Χ.,” in Γ´ Επιστημονική συνάντηση για την ελλενιστική κεραμική 1991 (Kos). For information on fragments of this class found in association with production sites from as far south as Lorymna and the Knidos area, we thank A. Kaan Senol. 12. P. Dupont, “Archaic East Greek Trade Amphoras,” in East Greek Pottery, ed. R. M. Cook and P. Dupont (Chios); C. G. Koehler, Corinthian A and B Transport Amphoras, PhD diss., Princeton University (Corinth); A. Johnston and R. E. Jones, “The ‘SOS’ Amphora,” Annual of the British School at Athens 73 (1978) (Attica). 13. Dupont, “Archaic East Greek Trade Amphoras,” p. 151. 14. P. Valvanis, “Les amphores panathénaïques et le commerce athénien de l’huile,” in Recherches sur les amphores grecques, ed. J.-Y. Empereur and Y. Garlan; Jenifer Neils, Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens; R. Hamilton, “Archons’ Names on Panathenaic Vases,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 96 (1993). Close consistency in capacity measurements of Panathenaic amphoras from the sixth century have been observed by M. Bentz, Panathenäische Preisamphoren: Eine athenische Vasengattung und ihre Funktion vom 6–4. Jahrhundert v. Chr, Antike Kunst Beiheft 18, p.  200, but the functional difference between these and the coarseware transport amphora is considerable. 15. Greene et al., “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Sixth- Century B.C. Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey,” pp. 693–94. 16. O. Karagiorgou, “Mapping Trade by the Amphora,” in Byzantine Trade, 4th–12th Centuries: The Archaeology of Local, Regional and International Exchange. Papers of the Thirty- Eighth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, St. John’s College, University of Oxford, March 2004, ed. M. M. Mango. 17. See in particular A. Opaiţ, “A Weighty Matter: Pontic Fish Amphorae,” in The Black Sea in Antiquity: Regional and Interregional Economic Exchanges, ed. V. Gabrielsen and J. Lund; and see D. P. S. Peacock and D. F. Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy: An Introductory Guide, which includes a section on “principal contents” for each amphora type. 18. See, for example, the fifth-century BCE shipwreck at Tektaş Burnu (D. N. Carlson, “The Clas-


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sical Greek Shipwreck at Tektaş Burnu, Turkey,” AJA 107 [2003]: 583–90) and the fourth-century BCE Kyrenia wreck (S. W. Katzev, “Resurrecting an Ancient Greek Ship: Kyrenia, Cyprus,” in Beneath the Seven Seas, ed. G. F. Bass, pp. 75–76), where similar jars carried more than one cargo. 19. J. T. Peña, Roman Pottery in the Archaeological Record; N. Kruit and K. A. Worp, “Geographical Jar Names: Towards a Multi-disciplinary Approach,” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete 46 (2000). 20. On commodities and their regional identifiers, see Greene et al., “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Sixth-Century B.C. Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey,” pp. 685–86; L. Foxhall, “Cargoes of the Heart’s Desire: The Character of Trade in the Archaic Mediterranean World,” in Archaic Greece: New Approaches and New Evidence, ed. N. Fisher and H. van Wees, pp. 303–307; L. Foxhall, “Village to City: Staples and Luxuries? Exchange Networks and Urbanization,” in Mediterranean Urbanization 800–600 BC, ed. R. Osborne and B. Cunliffe, pp. 234–40; on sailing seasons, see K. Simonsen, “Winter Sailing,” Mouseion 3 (2003); P. Arnaud, Les routes de la navigation antique: itinéraires en Méditerranée. 21. See Kruit and Worp, “Geographical Jar Names: Towards a Multi- disciplinary Approach,” pp. 76–78 for other commodities carried in Thasian amphoras. 22. Examples of commercial writing have been found on papyri, ostraka, wax tablets, poorly legible dipinti and graffiti, and rare bits of lead; on the likelihood of commercial “paperwork” in antiquity, see C. Pébarthe, “Fiscalité, empire athénien et écriture: Retour sur les causes de la guerre du Péloponnèse,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 129 (2000). 23. M. L. Lawall, “Early Hellenistic Amphoras from Two Closed Contexts: Kerynia Shipwreck and Ephesos Well LB,” in Z’ Epistemonike Synantese giaten Hellenistike Keramike: Aigo, 4–9 Apriliou 2005. Susan Katzev informs us, however, on the basis of experiments with modern copies of these Rhodian amphoras, that intact empty jars, even if secured in the ship by means of a covering net or tarpaulin, would have torn free as the ship sank. 24. Peña, Roman Pottery in the Archaeological Record, 2007. 25. M. Hansson and B. Foley, “Ancient DNA Fragments inside Classical Greek Amphoras Reveal Cargo of 2400-year-old Shipwreck,” Journal of Archaeological Science 35 (2008). 26. For late Roman and Byzantine amphora markings especially related to clarifying contents, see F. H. van Doorninck Jr., “The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yassı Ada and the 11th Century Serçe Limanı Shipwrecks: Two Examples of a Reuse of Byzantine Amphoras as Transport Jars,” in Recherches sur la céramique byzantine, ed. V. Déroche and J.-M. Spieser; B. Böttger, “Dipinti aus Iatrus. Spätantike Amphorenaufschriften als wirtschaftshistorische Quelle,” Klio 63 (1981); Peña, Roman Pottery in the Archaeological Record. 27. For the basic methodologies, see M. B. Wallace, “Progress in Measuring Amphora Capacities,” in Recherches sur les amphores grecques, ed. J.-Y. Empereur and Y. Garlan; M. B. Wallace, “Standardization in Greek Amphora Capacities,” in Transport Amphorae and Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean: Acts of the International Colloquium at the Danish Institute at Athens, September 26–29, 2002, ed. J. Eiring and J. Lund (direct measurements with polystyrene beads); I. B. Brashinskii, “Method in the Study of the Standards of Ancient Greek Pottery Containers [Metodika izucheniia standartov drevnegrecheskoi keramicheskoi tary],” Sovetskaya Archeologia (1976); I. B. Brashinskii, “A Thasian Amphora from Nymphaeum and Some Questions of Ancient Metrology [Fasosskaia amfora iz Nimfeia i nekotorye voprosy antichnoi metrologii],” Vestnik drevnej istorii (1978) (calculations from linear measurements). 28. See Greene et al., “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Sixth-Century B.C. Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey,” pp. 694–96 and E. S. Greene and M. L. Lawall, “Amphora Capacities in Early Monetary Asia Minor: The Pabuç Burnu Shipwreck,” Skyllis 7 (2005 / 2006) for the individual measurements and a detailed description of the measuring process. The authors are grateful to Carolyn Koehler and the late Malcolm Wallace for advice on accurate and consistent capacity measurements; see Wallace, “Progress in Measuring Amphora Capacities.” 29. W. G. Forrest, “A Chian Wine Measure,” Annual of the British School at Athens 51 (1956); T. Figueira, The Power of Money: Coinage and Politics in the Athenian Empire, pp. 299–307. 30. For the intersections between informal, semi-formal, and formal markets in the modern Turkish economy, see M. Kamrava, “The Semi-Formal Sector and the Turkish Political Economy,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 31 (2004): 67–71.

Amphora Standardization


31. M. Şaul, “The Organization of a West African Grain Market,” American Anthropologist n.s. 89.1 (1987): 80–81. 32. E. D. Oren, “Migdol: A New Fortress on the Edge of the Eastern Nile Delta,” BASOR 256 (1984): 17 and J.- F. Salles, “Du blé, de l’huile et du vin . . . (Notes sur les échanges commerciaux en Méditerranée orientale vers le milieu du 1er millénaire av. J.-C.),” in Asia Minor and Egypt: Old Cultures in a New Empire: Proceedings of the Groningen 1988 Achaemenid History Workshop, ed. H.  SancisiWeerdenburg and A. Kuhrt; cf. A. Villing, “‘Drab Bowls’ for Apollo: The Mortaria of Naukratis and Exchange in the Archaic Eastern Mediterranean,” in Naukratis: Greek Diversity in Egypt. Studies on East Greek Pottery and Exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. A. Villing and U. Schlotzhauer, p. 34, noting their frequent association with other pottery forms that comprise domestic or religious assemblages rather than items of exchange. And yet, in both domestic and ritual contexts, standardization, measurement and even transactions could play significant roles. 33. See M. Lang and M. Crosby, Weights, Measures and Tokens, pp. 39–48 for a discussion of dry measures in the Athenian Agora. 34. See M. L. Lawall, “Graffiti, Wine Selling, and the Reuse of Amphoras in the Athenian Agora, ca. 430 to 400 B.C.,” Hesperia 69 (2000): 10–15 for notations of volume and infrequently of weight on Classical amphoras from the Athenian Agora. 35. The idea of a measure used for the decanting of wine from storage jars is known from later papyri, on which see P. Mayerson, “ΣΗΚΩΜΑΤΑ: ‘Standard’ Measures for Decanting Wine,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 35 (1998) and P. Mayerson, “Σηκώματα: Measures of Wine, Not Jars,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 38 (2001). 36. Likewise in bazaars, where accurate information is hard to gain, personal relationships provide the security needed for transactions to occur (e.g., see Fanselow, “The Bazaar Economy or How Bizarre Is the Bazaar Really”). Even in more familiar market situations in which the consumer has little accurate knowledge of the product and the cost is quite high, such as car purchases or real-estate transactions, the salesperson often seeks to establish a notion of friendship not encountered in small-scale, more informed transactions, say in a grocery store (on this phenomenon, see P. DiMaggio and H. Louch, “Socially Embedded Consumer Transactions: For What Kinds of Purchases Do People Most Often use Networks?” American Sociological Review 63 (1998): esp. pp. 634–36). 37. J. H. Kagan, “Small Change and the Beginning of Coinage at Abdera,” in Agoranomia: Studies in Money and Exchange Presented to John H. Kroll, ed. P. G. van Alfen. 38. As per Ibid., pp. 50–51. This figure is based on two hemiobols to the obol, six obols to the drachma, eight drachmas to the octodrachm. 39. Ibid., pp. 53–54. 40. H. S. Kim, “Archaic Coinage as Evidence for the Use of Money,” in Money and its Uses in the Ancient Greek World, ed. A. Meadows and K. Shipton, pp. 15–17. 41. E. Mantzouka, The Transport Amphoras from a Fifth Century Shipwreck Found off the Island of Alonnesos, Northern Sporades, Greece, Master’s thesis, East Carolina University (Alonnesos), pp. 74–107, 203–204; D. N. Carlson, Cargo in Context: The Morphology, Stamping and Origins of the Amphoras from a Fifth-Century B.C. Ionian Shipwreck, PhD diss., The University of Texas at Austin (Tektaş Burnu), pp. 190–233; C. Eiseman and B. Ridgway, The Porticello Shipwreck: A Mediterranean Merchant Vessel of 415–385 B.C. (Porticello). The authors are grateful to Susan Katzev and Deborah Carlson for sharing unpublished results about the capacities of amphoras from Tektaş Burnu and Kyrenia (briefly mentioned in P. M. Matheson and M. B. Wallace, “Some Rhodian Amphora Capacities,” Hesperia 51 (1982): 296. The question of when and how capacity standards develop to a uniform level of consistency in multiple regions, thereby removing the assumption of known transactors or a secondary measurement process, is worthy of further consideration. 42. C. G. Koehler and M. B. Wallace, “Appendix. The Transport Amphoras: Description and Capacities,” AJA 91 (1987) and Wallace, “Standardization in Greek Amphora Capacities,” pp. 429–31.


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The Restudy of the LR2 Amphoras from the Seventh-Century Yassıada Shipwreck Preliminary Evidence for Standardization Peter G. van Alfen

Aware of the significance of a chance discovery of graffiti on some of the globular amphoras from the wreck, but realizing that they could not delay the publication of Yassı Ada I, George Bass and Frederick van Doorninck Jr. pressed ahead with publication anyway, knowing that further work on the amphoras would be required.1 With the volume in press, efforts were already underway to raise as many of the remaining amphoras as possible in the hopes of finding more graffiti, which could perhaps offer more insight into the purpose and the endpoints of the ship’s final voyage. Of the estimated 900 amphoras that were carried aboard the vessel, 822 were recorded during the excavations in the early 1960s. These were divided into two primary classes: 719 globular and 103 cylindrical jars.2 During the excavation, 110 amphoras of both classes (80 globular and 30 cylindrical)—about 14 percent of the total recorded— were raised for study. The rest were moved into storage areas on the seafloor, where they stayed for two more decades.3 In the quest for more graffiti, over 560 additional jars were brought to the surface in the early 1980s and taken to the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology for conservation and study, where they remain stored today. Van Doorninck and a host of others subsequently cleaned the jars and found more graffiti, as had been hoped.4 Parallel to this work, van Doorninck began his study of the amphoras from the eleventh-century “Glass Wreck” excavated at Serçe Limanı in 1977–79, which in time took precedence over the work on the Yassıada jars. This, as it happened, was a fortunate turn of events. In his study of the 89 piriform amphoras from the Glass Wreck, which are summarized in Chapter 3 of this volume, van Doorninck observed, through an unprecedented method of highly controlled linear and volumetric measurement, that the jars were produced in a wide range of multiples of the mina, or 3 Byzantine pounds (litrae). Each amphora was carefully constructed to hold a precise weight of either dry or sweet wine (each has a different specific gravity), resulting in the just over two dozen sizes observed. This type of standardized packaging for commodities, with a plethora of sizes, although universal today was not common throughout most of antiquity. Studies of Greek and Roman amphoras make it clear that the earlier jars, when there was size differentiation at all, were made in three general sizes only—full, one-half, and one-third—with no close volumetric consistency within each size.5 Van Doorninck’s observations of the eleventh-century Serçe Limanı amphoras therefore are important for understanding the development of political and economic institutions and social mechanisms related to the production, shipment, and consumption of the commodities in amphoras and of the jars themselves. These observations gave the restudy of the Yassıada amphoras renewed impetus and focus. The primary purpose in reexamining 17

the Yassıada amphoras now is to determine if the same degree of standardization was already in use four centuries earlier, in the hopes of better defining the conceptual turning point that gave rise to the type of standardization already fully developed in the eleventh century. Initial stabs at this problem by van Doorninck in the late 1980s and early 1990s seemed to indicate that standardization was present in the early seventh-century amphoras, but the great number of jars needing laborious linear and capacity measurements made the prospect of confirming these preliminary results daunting. In the meantime, as a more manageable test case, the cylindrical jars from the wreck were selected for linear and capacity measurements. Although this study revealed that there was a reasonable amount of consistency in the linear dimensions of the smaller jars and the possibility that a system of precisely formed, standardized capacities was in use, both the small sample size of complete amphoras (19) available for capacity measurement and the generally poor build quality of the roughly 70 examples studied left room for doubt.6 With the question of standardization in the seventh century still not satisfactorily resolved, van Doorninck and I resumed work on the restudy of the globular amphoras in 2004. Our current work determining the capacity system of the globular amphoras, while still far from finished, offers evidence that a system of standardized capacities was in use. This aspect of the restudy project is discussed by van Doorninck in Chapter 17 of this volume. This chapter focuses on the linear measurements of the globular jars and the meaning of their standardization.

The Current State of the Project Van Doorninck’s (1989) revised typology of the globular jars identified four major working types, Types I–IV, distinguished primarily by handle shape and body decoration (figs. 2.1– 2.4).7 These four major types collectively represent approximately 89 percent of the globular amphoras from the wreck housed in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. In addition to Types I–IV, there are several dozen other types, each represented at most by only a few amphoras with widely varying fabrics, sizes, and shapes; for the sake of convenience in this chapter, these several dozen other types are here discussed as a group, Type S(pecial), which collectively represents approximately 11 percent of the globular jars in the Bodrum Museum. Some Type S jars are unquestionably earlier sixth- century examples of LR2a amphoras (figs. 2.5 and 2.6); unfortunately, none of these jars has a preserved base, and thus the basal knob that could provide a date to either side of 550 CE.8 In either case, the chronological span of the older and newer globular amphoras appears to be at least several decades. A numerical breakdown of the presently cataloged globular jars—including approximately 150 complete examples—from the Yassıada wreck in the Bodrum Museum is as follows: I, 168 examples; II, 65 examples; III, 198 examples; IV, 68 examples; and S, 46 examples. Our current thoughts on the question of standardization and the globular jars are based on the data that we have collected to date, which include linear and capacity measurements of Type I amphoras, most of the linear and many of the capacity measurements of Type II amphoras, and only linear measurements of amphora Types III, IV, and S. Capacity measurements have been collected from 52 complete examples of Types I and II, which represent roughly one-third of the approximately 150 complete amphoras of all types. Our current thoughts on the question of standardization and the globular jars are therefore based on the data that we have at hand.


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Figure 2.1. Type I globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure 2.2. Type II globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure 2.3. Type III globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure 2.4. Type IV globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure 2.5. Type S globular amphora (P. van Alfen).

Figure 2.6. Type S globular amphora (P. van Alfen).

Figure 2.7. Inverted, broken neck from Type Ia amphora undergoing capacity measurement. Note the beveling around the edge (Peter van Alfen).

Linear Measurements In the early stages of the restudy project, van Doorninck identified a dozen separate linear measurements on the body, neck, rim, and handles of the amphoras that seemed critical for understanding how the jars were conceptualized and constructed.9 While some of these measurements may not have been important to ancient potters, several exhibit tight clustering around certain marks, indicating that in the construction of the jars these must have been measurements of concern and thus were carefully controlled by means of guides, rulers, or other devices. Seven such measurements, three on the body and four on the neck, are discussed below (figs. 2.8–2.23).10 The construction of these large amphoras was a multistep operation involving three separate major components: the body, the neck, and the handles. Despite the fact that such multistep, multipart construction offered ample opportunities for quality to suffer, especially when we consider that amphoras generally might not have warranted special care in their construction in light of their storage and transport function, the Type I–IV globular jars are exceptionally well-made, most notably when compared to the often sloppy construction of the cylindrical jars. Broken Type I and IV jars have revealed a high level of build quality in the area of the neck and mouth especially. Great care was taken to ensure a tight and secure fit between the neck and body by beveling the lower portion of the neck so it would seat snugly within the corresponding hole in the body (fig. 2.7). Prodigious amounts of fine slip were used around the neck- body and neck- handle attachment points and indeed around the entire body; fine slip was also used to form the mouth and rim, possibly using a round plug-like tool to ensure consistency in the size of the opening. The greatest proof of quality construction, however, is in the linear (and capacity) measurements, which demonstrate the potters’ meticulousness. The tabulated results of the overall height, maximum diameter, and height at maxi20

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Figure 2.8. Type IV amphora illustrating overall height, maximum diameter, and height at maximum diameter measurements (Peter van Alfen).

Figure 2.9. Histogram for overall height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

mum diameter data sets are presented in Figures 2.9–2.14. For each of these measurements, and the neck measurements that follow, two graphs are provided. The first histogram (the bar chart) represents all the data for that measurement from all the amphora types inclusive and the number of examples providing this measurement. The second histogram is the cross-tabulation of the same data exclusive by type (e.g., Types I–IV and S). The true significance of these linear body measurements will only be understood once we correlate them with one another and with the capacity measurements, a task that must await the completion of our data collection in the Bodrum Museum, but it is possible already Restudy of LR2 Amphoras


Figure 2.10. Cross-tabulation for overall height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.11. Histogram for maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.12. Cross-tabulation for maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.13. Histogram for height at maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.14. Cross-tabulation for height at maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.15. Type IV amphora illustrating the neck measurements for maximum and minimum diameter, internal mouth diameter, and height (Peter van Alfen).

to make a number of observations. In overall height, significant clustering occurs between 53 and 56 cm, particularly around the 54- and 55-cm marks. Likewise, in maximum diameter, significant clustering occurs between 41 and 45 cm but especially at the 42- and 43cm marks. Similar patterns of clustering centered on the 27.5-cm mark can be seen in the height at maximum diameter histograms (figs. 2.13 and 2.14). The highest peaks in each of these histograms indicate great success on the part of the potters in hitting a particular 24

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mark consistently. While the slopes away from these high peaks would normally indicate less successful attempts at hitting that particular high mark, points along the slopes (e.g., 53 and 56 cm in overall height) might also have been desired marks themselves, but they are not as statistically well represented in our data set. Van Doorninck observed with the Serçe Limanı jars that the potters controlled volumetric size by precise alterations to the body dimensions, no more than one or two centimeters in body height and / or diameter. If we subtract the standard neck height for Types I and IV (ca. 13.5 cm, see below) from the overall height, a rough 1:1 correlation between the maximum body diameter and the overall height minus the neck (i.e., the height of the body per se) is evident.11 On the basis of the data we have to date, 42 lepta, or 41 cm, is the likeliest starting point for both body height and maximum diameter, the point from which the potters either added or subtracted to create larger or smaller standard-size bodies. The balance of proportion and volume in the square-ish 42-lepta body could be maintained in other larger or smaller sizes by adjusting the height at maximum diameter as necessary as height and / or diameter was reduced or enlarged.12 The cross-tabulated results by amphora type show that Types I, II, and III are strongly represented in the highest peaks of all the histograms, Type IV less so but still prominent. The measurements from the Type S jars are the least concentrated and most widely scattered. It is clear that there was a range of different yet relatively closely grouped body sizes and corresponding volumes in the Type I–IV jars.13 Regardless of the size of the body, however, many of the large jars shared a standard- sized neck of the same volume and dimensions. The Type I and IV necks have capacities that average 535 cm3, with a standard deviation of 30 cm3 (fig. 2.7). The capacities of the Type II and III necks have not yet been calculated, but the histograms suggest that their average (linear) size was slightly smaller than the Type I and IV necks. A standard size neck is further confirmed by the tabulated results for four sets of linear measurements on the necks: the minimum and maximum diameters, the height, and the internal mouth diameter (figs. 2.16–2.23). We note a gradual left-hand slope and sharp right-hand drop-off in all of the histograms except that for internal mouth diameter (fig. 2.22), which suggests that the potters were working toward the measurement represented by the highest peak but did not wish to overshoot it: for Types I and IV, ca. 13.5-cm neck height, ca. 13.5- cm maximum neck diameter, and ca. 7.75- cm minimum neck diameter; for Types II and III, ca. 12.5- cm neck height, ca. 12.5- cm maximum neck diameter, and ca. 7.1-cm minimum neck diameter. Of great significance is the fact that the standard deviation for these three measurements is between 0.49 and 0.99 cm, again a sure sign that the necks were built to a predetermined size. The shape of the histogram for the internal mouth diameter (fig. 2.22) is somewhat different than those for the other three neck dimensions since it has an extended plateau from ca. 6.25 cm to ca. 7 cm. That ca. 7 cm was the desired mark for Types I and IV is confirmed by the mean (6.94 cm) and the standard deviation (0.47 cm) for these jars, whereas for Types II and III the mean is 6.44 cm and the standard deviation 0.43 cm, indicating ca. 6.5 cm was the mark. The slightly greater degree of consistency in this dimension compared to the others is likely due to the use of a standard-sized tool to help form the mouth opening, which could then accept a standard-sized stopper. Our standard stopper, 1 cm thick, 7 cm in diameter tapering to 6 cm and fashioned from Styrofoam, is a perfect fit in the mouths of the vast majority of the Type I and IV jars but a tighter fit in the Type II and III jars. The cross-tabulated results for the neck dimensions follow essentially the same pattern as Restudy of LR2 Amphoras


Figure 2.16. Histogram for minimum neck diameter of the jars in this study.

Figures 2.17. Cross-tabulation for minimum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

those for the body dimensions. Again, jars of Types I, II, and III are heavily represented in the peaks and slopes of the histograms, Type IV jars less so but still prominent, whereas Type S jars are widely scattered across the entire data set. The rather compelling picture of linear standardization that is emerging from the data raises a number of issues about the production of the globular jars. Although we can only speculate how amphora production was organized within workshops in the sixth and seventh 26

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Figure 2.18. Histogram for maximum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.19. Cross-tabulation for maximum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

centuries, it is possible that each of the three major components, body, neck, and handles, was produced concurrently by several individuals, perhaps of differing skill levels, rather than consecutively by one individual before final assembly.14 The construction of the body required a great deal of skill due to the amount of control needed to impart precision in vessels of such great size and weight, whereas rolling out handles required the least skill. The necks were also precisely constructed, but their smaller size and weight made them more manageable than the bodies. How workshops were organized internally by task or skill and externally across geographical regions has bearing on the question of standardization. For several variously skilled individuals within a single workshop to produce presized components for a single Restudy of LR2 Amphoras


Figure 2.20. Histogram for neck height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.21. Cross-tabulation for neck height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.22. Histogram for internal mouth diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.23. Cross-tabulation for internal mouth diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

standardized final product implies the use of predetermined guides or measurements. At the shop level, the use of such tools or blueprints, as it were, could entail simply the desire to find either a method of production adapted to the varying skill levels of those working in the shop or a method that increased efficiency and rates of production.15 These implications change, however, as the scale of standardized production expands geographically across many workshops. As we have seen, many of the Types I–IV have virtually identical linear (and capacity) measurements,16 but the fabric of Type IV is not the same fabric as that of Types I–III.17 If, as is likely, these jars prove to have been constructed at workshops geographically far removed from one another, their virtually identical measurements mean that all workshops in a given region followed the same blueprint. This has significant implications for the meaning of standardization within Byzantine exchange systems.

The Meaning of Yassıada Amphora Standardization It is our belief, at this stage in the restudy project, that Types I and II are representative of a system of precisely formed, standardized capacities. If we consider that many of the Type S jars—some reused and perhaps decades old when the ship sank—as well as the cylindrical jars appear to exhibit looser linear and volumetric control, it is possible that a conceptual turning point for standardization can be found shortly before the ship sank, which could account for both standardized and nonstandardized jars being on the same ship. What remains to be seen is if this turning point was a system- wide phenomenon or one more locally isolated but still representing a step in the direction of the more widespread form of standardization observed in the Serçe Limanı piriform amphoras. In either case, the implications of a smaller or larger and presumably rather dramatic shift to the use of highly standardized containers of multiple sizes are vast and complex, involving consideration of the modes of production, distribution, and consumption and the institutional structures within and around which these modes operated. If, for example, we are observing a transitional moment toward greater standardization, we should like to know, among other things, the problems that led to the production of standardized amphoras as a solution, how the various dimensions and capacities for these jars were determined, and how widely the “blueprint” was disseminated and enforced. In terms of distribution, if standardized and nonstandardized jars were at this time commonly found side by side, as on the Yassıada ship, does this represent two or more modes of distribution operating in tandem, in parallel, or in competition?18 Does it imply that amphora standardization served only short-term goals (as, for example, within the realm of production only), but had little or no significance within the realms of distribution and consumption? And, as these large jars exited the realm of distribution and came into the hands of the ultimate consumer(s), would standardization matter to those emptying the jars, and if so, in what context(s)? How we approach such questions is determined in part by how we view the purpose of the ship’s final voyage. Bass’s suggestion in his conclusions to the 1982 final report that the ship was engaged in a commercial venture has now been superseded by van Doorninck’s reassessment of that last voyage: the ship, owned and stocked by the church, had set off in service of the state’s annona militaris, the taxation and redistribution system responsible for feeding the armies. By eliminating market mechanisms from this voyage, which was meant to distribute wine and oil to state-employed soldiers (i.e., the final consumers), we emphasize the role of two large, interoperating institutions, both of which had their own closed systems 30

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for acquiring, distributing, and consuming goods.19 In van Doorninck’s reassessment, both institutions are the primary forces for the distribution and consumption of the amphoras, but can we extend their role to the production of the jars as well? In other words, is it possible that a transition to standardization took place within the closed context of the church or state’s commodity extraction and distribution systems, with market activity playing no role in its development and adoption? The answer, at this point, is equivocal. Within markets, the persistence of transaction costs encourages the development of institutions and devices that help to lower the search for information and increase the reliability of exchange and the quality of goods.20 Standardized measures, monetary instruments, rules, and the like help to lower costs. Thus it makes perfectly good sense that the move toward highly standardized containers, like amphoras, would take place within a market context in order to ease the assessment of quantity versus value. Incredibly, however, over the course of nearly a millennium of intense market activity within the Mediterranean involving highly standardized measures, monetary instruments, rules, and additional market amenities of all sorts, high levels of amphora standardization appear only to have developed in the Late Roman period. Was there a momentous, unprecedented shift in market practices that served as the drive for standardization?21 That is one possibility, but it is difficult to see how market forces alone could have encouraged and enforced a rapid, geographically widespread diffusion of amphora standardization when long-standing market practices had, it would seem, studiously avoided such a thing for centuries, no doubt because it served the interests of wholesalers to obfuscate the search for value-quantity information. The diffusion and enforcement aspects of the problem suggest the role of an entity, like the church or state, with the necessary authority to achieve compliance across geographical regions. An overhaul of the state’s system of taxation on market activity, one that required greater attention be paid to the value of specific quantities of goods carried in amphoras, may also have supplied the impetus for standardization. In this solution, markets are still the locus of change, but the instigation comes top down, rather than bottom up through market processes. But there are, of course, alternatives to market-based activities that may have encouraged the adoption of standardization as well. The theory of firms, as initially developed by Ronald Coase (1937), describes them as agglomerations that get around the costs of using the price mechanism in markets.22 Rather than going into the market to negotiate prices for the goods and services they need, firms produce the needed good or service by expanding their own productive organization. Intrafirm transactions take place, as between a production division and a division that consumes the product, but by keeping all transactions with the firm, it can set and control the terms of transaction. The choice of whether to select the market or expand the firm depends on the relative efficiency of transactions both within and external to the firm. An analogy between the state’s annona militaris and the church’s production and extraction systems on the one hand, and the firm on the other, although not exact in every detail, can nevertheless be made. By encapsulating the modes of production, as well as distribution and consumption within their closed systems, the state or church could set and enforce the terms of production, distribution, and consumption as it served them best while avoiding marketplace transaction costs and disruptions. In other words, amphora standardization may have been developed as a means of monitoring intrafirm transactions and meeting the needs of internal bureaucratic practices, like record keeping.23 This solution, however, is complicated by asking why the state or church would need a plethora of amphora sizes for their own purposes within such Restudy of LR2 Amphoras


a narrow capacity spectrum when fewer sizes across a broader spectrum might seem more intuitive. In sum, as we begin to observe more evidence for standardization in the globular jars from the Yassıada shipwreck, we are only beginning to realize the complexity of what standardization means and how it is situated within institutional settings. Notes 1. G. F. Bass, “The Pottery,” in Yassı Ada, Volume I: A Seventh-Century Byzantine Shipwreck, ed. G. F. Bass and F. H. van Doorninck, p. 161. 2. In the 1982 report, the cylindrical jars received the designation “Type 1,” while the globular jars were called “Type 2.” These types have no relationship to the typology developed by J. A. Riley, “The Coarse Pottery from Benghazi,” in Sidi Khrebish Excavations, Benghazi (Berenice), ed. J. A. Lloyd, pp. 91–467, for Late Roman Amphoras or to the project typology used below. For the sake of convenience the class designations initially used by Bass and van Doorninck, “cylindrical” and “globular,” are maintained here when speaking of the Yassıada amphoras generally. The cylindrical jars correspond to the type designation “Late Roman Amphora 1” (LR1; D. P. S. Peacock and D. F. Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy: An Introductory Guide, p. 185; D. F.  Williams, “Late Roman Amphora 1: A Study of Diversification,” in Trade Relations in the Eastern Mediterranean from Late Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity: The Ceramic Evidence, ed. M. Briese Berg and L. E. Vaag, pp. 157– 68). The globular jars of Types I–IV and S correspond to “Late Roman Amphora 2” (LR2; Peacock and Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy, p. 182; O. Karagiourgou, “LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?” in Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean during Late Antiquity, ed. S. Kingsley and M. Deckner, pp. 129–66). 3. The ongoing restudy project would not be possible without the assistance of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology staff, particularly interim director, Yaşar Yıldız, and the assistance of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology’s (INA) Bodrum staff, particularly Tuba Ekmekçi, Esra Altınanıt, and former chief conservator Asaf Oron. Funding for the project has come from INA and a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend (2007). I thank Frederick van Doorninck Jr., Sebastian Heath, Mark Lawall, and Müşerref Yetim for their comments on earlier drafts; I also thank Stephanie Koenig and Müşerref Yetim for preparing the figures. 4. F. H. van Doorninck Jr., “The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yassı Ada and the 11th Century Serçe Limanı Shipwrecks: Two Examples of a Reuse of Byzantine Amphoras as Transport Jars,” in Recherches sur la céramique byzantine BCH suppl. 18, ed. V. Déroche and J.- M. Spieser, pp. 247–57. 5. M. Wallace, “Standardization in Greek Amphora Capacities,” in Transport Amphorae and Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean. Acts of an International Colloqium of the Danish Institute of Athens, 26–29 September 2002, ed. J. Eiring and J. Lund, pp. 429–32. 6. P. G. van Alfen, “New Light on the 7th-C. Yassı Ada Shipwreck: Capacities and Standard Sizes of LRA1 Amphoras,” JRA 9 (1996): 189–213. 7. Van Doorninck, in fact, referred to these as “subtypes,” not “types.” The possibility that there may be subtypes of these subtypes renders this designation hierarchy awkward. For the sake of simplicity, the earlier subtypes are here merely “types.” As our study progresses further, redesignation of the amphoras will likely prove necessary, in which case we shall provide, in our final publication, a concordance of all our previously published working terms. Nevertheless, our aim is not to promulgate further confusion in amphora designations, but to stay within the current system of Late Roman Amphora typologies and terminology by creating subsets of recognized classes, e.g., LR2, Yassıada subtype I, vel sim. 8. Karagiourgou, “LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?” p. 141. 9. These include overall height, maximum diameter, height at maximum diameter, neck height, rim height, external mouth diameter, internal mouth diameter, minimum neck diameter, maximum neck diameter, handle width, handle thickness, and body wall thickness. Van Doorninck’s developed methodology for taking each of these measurements includes safeguards to ensure accuracy and consistency. Also, it should again be emphasized that only ca. 150, or about 25 percent, of the globular jars stored in the Bodrum Museum are complete. The rest exist in states of preservation ranging from a


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neck and handle stubs only to jars otherwise complete but missing portions of the body sidewall such that it makes capacity measurement impossible. The total number of linear measurements taken on an example is thus a function of its state of preservation. 10. These are for the body (fig. 2.8): overall height, maximum diameter, height at maximum diameter; and for the neck (fig. 2.15): maximum diameter, minimum diameter, internal mouth diameter, height. 11. The Byzantine lepton is a linear measurement equal to 0.975 cm. 12. Van Doorninck discusses these issues of size gradation in greater detail and at greater length in Chapter 17. 13. The capacities of the Type I and II globular jars range between 32 and 40 L; for the linear dimensions, see figs. 2.9–2.14. While capacity measurements have yet to be completed on Type III and IV amphoras, their linear dimensions are virtually identical to those of Types I and II, suggesting that their capacities will also line up with Types I and II, for which see van Doorninck in Chapter 17. 14. Ethnographic studies of modern Mediterranean- region workshops engaged in producing large amphora-like containers, like the one studied by P. Nicholson and H. Patterson, “Pottery Making in Upper-Egypt: An Ethnoarchaeological Study,” World Archaeology 17.2 (1985): 222–39, illustrate how such a division of labor between the more- and less-skilled in the construction of the jars might have been arranged. For a recent experiment in reproducing LR1 amphoras, see S. Demesticha, “Experimenting on Amphora Manufacture,” in E. Karpodini-Dimitriadi, ed. Ethnography of European Traditional Cultures: Arts, Crafts, Techniques of Heritage. European Seminar III-Proceedings (1998), pp. 139–48. 15. The implications of intra-shop standardization for both production specialization and intensity have been widely explored in anthropological literature; see, for example, V. Roux, “Ceramic Standardization and Intensity of Production: Quantifying Degrees of Specialization,” American Antiquity 68.4 (2003): 768–82. While internal mechanisms for standardization may have developed within workshops, it is our contention that the standardization we observe was externally directed, although the mechanism remains to be identified (see below). Van Doorninck noted, as a rough blueprint, that the potters of the globular jars followed a standard set of amphora dimensions in which the overall amphora height is 48 lepta (ca. 53 cm), the height and interior maximum diameter of the body are three-quarters of the overall height, and the height and maximum diameter of the neck are one- quarter of the overall height (“The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yassı Ada and the 11th Century Serçe Limani Shipwrecks,” pp. 247–57). Our recent work suggests that this outline might have been refined still more, perhaps with lists of specific measurements for each component. 16. Among the Type III, IV, and S jars there are a few examples of smaller globular jars that are roughly half the size in capacity and body dimensions of the more common larger (32- to 40-L) jars. The focus in this report is exclusively on the larger jars, although the linear dimensions for the smaller jars are included in figs. 2.9–2.14 and 2.16–2.23. 17. Justin Leidwanger is currently analyzing fabric samples taken from the Yassıada cylindrical and globular amphoras. The preliminary results of his study will be published in the near future. 18. We might, for example, imagine kommerkiarioi, Byzantine agents trading overseas on behalf of the state, simultaneously engaged in private transactions for their own benefit; see N. Oikonomides, “The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy,” in The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century, ed. A. E. Laiou, pp. 984–85. Such activity on board a ship could be manifested by state-owned amphoras being distributed within the annona system side by side with amphoras intended for the market. Also see B. Sirks, Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople, passim, for overlapping between the annona system and the market. 19. There is, unfortunately, comparatively little textual evidence for the later sixth- and early seventh-century systems of commodity extraction and distribution by the church and state; see A. E. Laiou, “Economic and Noneconomic Exchange,” in The Economic History of Byzantium from the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, ed. A. E. Laiou, passim, and Oikonomides, “The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy,” pp. 973–1058. Indeed, the (inter )relationship between state, church, and commercial mechanisms for long distance exchange in this period, and those bracketing it, especially as evidenced by LR 1 and 2 amphoras, is an issue that is far from settled; see S. Kings-

Restudy of LR2 Amphoras


ley and M. Decker, “New Rome, New Theories on Inter-Regional Exchange. An Introduction to the East Mediterranean Economy in Late Antiquity,” in Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean During Late Antiquity, ed. S. Kingsley and M. Decker, pp.1–27; Karagiourgou, “LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?” pp. 129–66; Demesticha, “Some Thoughts on the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora 13 on Cyprus,” in Trade Relations in the Eastern Mediterranean from Late Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity: The Ceramic Evidence, ed. M. Briese Berg and L. E. Vaag, pp. 169–78; Williams, “Late Roman Amphora 1: A Study of Diversification,” pp. 157–68. 20. For an overview of the concept of transaction costs, its formative role within neo-institutional economics, and its applicability to ancient economic history, see A. Bresson, L’économie de la Grèce des cités, Vol. I: Les structures et la production, pp. 23–35 and B. W. Frier and P. Kehoe, “Law and Economic Institutions,” in The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, ed. W. Scheidel et al., pp. 113–42. 21. One market-based mechanism that might have encouraged widespread production of LR1 and LR2 amphoras, standardized or not, is the phenomenon of imitation. Amphora producers may have copied a prototype design because it signaled an elevated degree of desirability and thus greater marketability; see N. Rauh, “Pirated knock-offs: Cilician imitations of internationally traded amphoras,” in Transport amphorae and trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Acts of an international colloqium of the Danish Institute of Athens, 26–29 September 2002, ed. J. Eiring and J. Lund, pp. 329–36. A collection of essays edited by Mark Lawall and myself, which are based on a workshop held at the University of Manitoba in November 2007, deal with the theoretical problems of imitation in ancient amphoras, coinage, and perfume. See M. L. and P. van Alfen, “Caveat Emptor: A Collection of Papers on Imitations in Ancient Greco-Roman Commerce,” in Marburger Beiträge zur Antiken Handels-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte 28, 2010. 22. For an overview of current approaches to the theory of the firm and neo- institutionalism, see V. Nee, “The New Institutionalisms in Economics and Sociology,” in The Handbook of Economic Sociology, ed. N. J. Smelser and R. Swedberg, pp. 49–74. 23. The presence of ca. 120 LR1 and ca. 30 LR2 (or LR13, see Demesticha, “Some Thoughts on the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora 13 on Cyprus,” p. 174) amphoras in an ecclesiastical complex on Samos, which appears to have been producing oil and wine, nicely illustrates aspects of commodity production within the church system (C. Steckner, “Les amphores LR 1 and LR 2 en relation avec le pressior du complexe ecclésiastique des thermes de Samos,” in Recherches sur la céramique byzantine. BCH suppl. 18, ed. V. Déroche and J.-M. Spieser, pp. 57–71; Karagiourgou, “LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?” pp. 141–42). What is less clear is whether the amphoras used in this facility were commissioned by the facility and delivered new, or if the amphoras were older jars that were being reused, or if there was a combined use of new and old jars. On the question of LR2 reuse at this time, see van Doorninck, “The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yassı Ada and the 11th Century Serçe Limanı Shipwrecks,” pp. 247–57 and Karagiourgou, “LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?” pp. 138–39. For evidence that LR1 and LR13 (or LR2?) amphoras were being produced simultaneously in a Paphos, Cyprus workshop, see Demesticha, “Some Thoughts on the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora 13 on Cyprus,” pp. 169–78.


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The Metrology of the Piriform Amphoras from the Eleventh-Century Byzantine Ship at Serçe Limanı New Designs but an Old System Frederick H. van Doorninck Jr.

A study of the metrology of 89 piriform amphoras from the Byzantine ship that sank at Serçe Limanı in the third decade of the eleventh century, a truly daunting task that underwent many stages of progress and retreat over a period of two decades, has now been completed and will be included in Volume 3 of the final shipwreck publication.1 Since publication of Volume 3 is still a number of years away, it seemed desirable to take this opportunity to summarize the study’s conclusions. The amphora catalog designations that will be used in Volume 3 are also used in this chapter. Fifty- six of the piriform jars (Am 1–56) are examples of an amphora type made during the tenth and eleventh centuries in the region of Ganos on the northwestern coast of the Sea of Marmara.2 The type belongs to the then most important class of Byzantine wine amphoras, now commonly called either Günsenin Type I or, more properly, Günsenin I.3 Ten other jars (Am 57–66), which I believe should also be associated with the broader Günsenin I class, are a light-brown ware for which I have found no parallels.4 Another jar (Am 67), which I again associate with the Günsenin I class, is a yellow ware for which I also have no parallels; badly broken, it could not be included in the metrology study. Finally, there are 22 jars (Am 68–89) of a maroon fabric known as Günsenin Type XII. Other examples of this type have been found at only a few sites, including Antioch, in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean.5 Before we can consider the metrology of these amphoras, we must first establish some basic facts and principles. It is, in my view, essential when studying the metrology of Byzantine amphoras to look with Byzantine eyes at the relationships between the capacities, dimensions, and weights of the jars. Thus, I have converted metric measurements into their Byzantine equivalents on the basis of relevant tables and discussions in E. Schilbach’s Byzantinische Metrologie. There are two principal textual sources on the Byzantine metrology system for wine: the Book of the Eparch and the Codex Palatinus Graecus 367, folios 88b to 91a. The Book of the Eparch, a late ninth- to early tenth-century handbook of regulations governing the guilds of Constantinople, stipulates in chapter 19, paragraphs 1 and 4, that innkeepers must, in selling wine, use containers having capacities based on a metron (measure) of 30 litrai (Byzantine pounds) of wine or a so-called mina of 3 litrai of wine.6 The wine metron in the Book of the Eparch is the thalassion metron, which weighed 30 litrai and emerged as the most important of the larger capacities for wine within the Byzantine metrology system, whereas the litra is the logarike litra, the Byzantine pound most commonly used.7 The Codex Palatinus Graecus 367, folios 88b to 91a, written in Cyprus in the thirteenth century, again states that the thalassion metron should have a capacity of 30 litrai, or 10 minai.8 35

Note that in the Byzantine metrology system, capacities were expressed in terms of weight rather than volume. However, to determine weight capacities, we must first measure volume capacities. The actual volume capacity of a jar was, of course, somewhat less than its capacity to the rim: there was the presence of a stopper, and some space, or headroom, for air would have been left beneath the stopper.9 At what level then must a jar’s capacity be measured? The answer is directly related to how the jars were made. The Ganos type, Günsenin I class jars were made out of three separate pieces of clay.10 After the body, still open at the top and bottom, had been completed, a collar of clay was placed on the bottom opening of the inverted body and clay was pushed down over the edges of the body on both the interior and exterior. The collar was then closed to form a base in the shape of a very shallow bowl. The neck was fully formed as a separate piece and then joined to the body. Regardless of jar size, the amount of clay in the neck and the neck’s general design were virtually identical from jar to jar. Two of the light-brown ware, Günsenin I jars (Am 57 and 58) were made in the same way, but the other eight jars of this type do not have a separate neck. The Günsenin XII amphoras have a separate neck but not a separate base. In the case of piriform amphoras with a separate neck, potters very probably attempted to make the bodies of the jars so that they already held the desired weight of wine before the neck was added. I became convinced of this when it emerged that the volume capacities of the Günsenin XII amphoras formed significantly tighter clusters when measured at the level of their body / neck juncture than they did when measured at any higher level. I have therefore measured the capacity of the piriform jars as closely as possible to the level of the body / neck juncture, or, in the case of jars without a separate neck, to a comparable level. Since the body / neck juncture was often not visible after jars were completed, the only practical way to check the weight capacity of a finished jar in most cases would have been to weigh it empty and then when filled to the lowest point where the transition between shoulder and neck was visible when looking down into the neck interior. For Ganos type Günsenin I jars, this level is at or only slightly above the body / neck juncture. A filling of Ganos type jars to the level of the body / neck juncture would have left a headroom that was occasionally marginal but never excessive. The ideal total height of the neck of these jars was 3 dactyls (1 dactyl = 0.0195 m), and stoppers were 1 dactyl thick. In most cases, the undersurface of the seated stoppers was approximately 1 to 2.5 dactyls below the lip, leaving a headroom of only about 0.5 to 2 dactyls. Thus, the body / neck juncture was the level to which these (and the other) piriform jars were ideally to be filled. The actual volume of any particular weight measure of wine depends on two variables: (1) the weight value of the litra at the time and place of the weighing of the wine and (2) the wine’s specific gravity. The weight of the logarike litra during any particular period in Byzantine history is a calculated value based on the weights of Byzantine gold coins minted at that time. In his Byzantinische Metrologie, Schilbach uses a general value of 320 g, whereas its value between the ninth and the beginning of the thirteenth centuries was usually near or at 319 g.11 For the light-brown ware jars, a weight value of 320 g for the litra (960 g for the mina) in fig. 3.1 gives the most satisfactory overall correlation between the actual volume capacities of the jars and the Byzantine metrology system for wine and therefore appears to approximate most closely the mean value of the litra used in the making of these jars. For the Ganos type jars, a weight value of 320 g for the litra again gives us the “best fit” in fig. 3.2, and it is noteworthy that 320 g is just over 1 g above the lowest possible weight value for the litra indicated by a set of 36

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Figure 3.1. This graph most closely approximates the mean value weight of the Byzantine litra used to make light-brown ware jars. Measurements from nine jars are plotted on this graph in the form of liter capacities.

Byzantine balance pan weights from the wreck. The capacity system for the Günsenin XII amphoras, which at the present time (2014) appear most likely to have been made in Byzantine Syria or possibly somewhere on the north shore of the Sea of Marmara, would seem to be based in some cases on the logarike litra but in at least a few cases on the argyrike litra, which is 25 / 24 times heavier. The argyrike litra existed alongside the logarike litra in regions that had regular commercial contacts with the Islamic world. It was used because of the closeness of its value to the pound (raṭ1) in the Arab weight system, to which a second set of balance pan weights from the wreck belongs.12 The Codex Palatinus Graecus 367, folios 88b to 91a, distinguishes between “white” and “red” wines and states that a container with a weight capacity of 30 litrai of “white” wine has a weight capacity of 32 litrai of “red” wine.13 This would appear to be a practical way of distinguishing between the specific gravities of lighter, relatively dry wines and much heavier sweet wines. Dry wines have a specific gravity range of 1.000 to 0.988 g / cm3.14 If we apply the formula given in the Codex Palatinus Graecus 367, we get a specific gravity value range for “red” wine of 1.054 to 1.067 g / cm3, which falls in the middle- to high-density range of boiled-down must wines.15 This suggests that the density ratio between “white” and “red” wine given by the Codex Palatinus Graecus 367 formula is probably a close approximation of the specific gravity ratio between Byzantine dry wines and the most important Byzantine boiled sweet wines.16 I have assumed that potters made their amphoras so that each jar came as close as possible to having the desired weight capacity. The alternative possibility is that potters attempted to give their jars a slightly higher than desired capacity so that only a few would turn out to have insufficient capacity. However, the latter approach would have as much as doubled the difference between the actual capacity and the desired capacity of a jar, whereas the former approach would have resulted in the average actual capacity of a large number of jars being virtually identical to their desired capacity. We will begin our determination of the weight capacities of the piriform amphoras with the light-brown ware jars. The liter capacities of nine measurable jars have been plotted on the graph in fig. 3.1. One is struck by how the volume capacities of the jars, including two clusters of two capacities each, fall at a fairly regular interval along the graph, except that no capacities occur within the interval progression just beyond 9 and 12 liters. By hypothesizing unrepresented capacity sizes at these two general locations, we get a total of 8 consecutive capacity sizes of 9 to 17 minai ranging from somewhere near 8.640 L to somewhere near 16.103 L. Figure 3.1 also indicates what the volumes of “white” and “red” wine would be at each Piriform Amphoras


Figure 3.2. A weight value of 320 g for the litra is again identified as the “best fit” for the Ganos jars.

mina weight size between 9 and 17 minai when the litra is assigned a weight value of 320 g. This weight value gives the best fit in that it permits the volume capacity of Am 57 to fall within the volume range of “white” wine at the 9-mina weight size and at the same time the volume capacity of Am 58 to fall within the volume range of “red” wine at the 11-mina weight size. The volume capacities of the remaining seven jars fall either very or fairly close to midway between the volume ranges of “white” and “red” wine at their weight sizes. It appears likely that these jars had been made to contain a very light, boiled sweet wine. The clarity of the relationship of the volume capacities of the nine jars in fig. 3.1 to the Byzantine mina weight system is quite remarkable, particularly in view of the fact that these jars belong to a total of seven different types and subtypes. Figure 3.2 shows the volume capacities of the 52 Ganos type jars with measurable capacities. The capacities, for the most part, fall in clusters consisting of two to six capacities, some of them tightly grouped and others more loosely defined, over a very large volume range of some 8 to 19 L. We get the best fit between the distribution of volume capacities and the mina weight size progression if we again assign a weight value of 320 g to the litra. When this weight value for the litra is used, the capacities of 38 of the 52 jars fall within or less than 40 ml outside a volume range for either “white” or “red” wine, or within the middle third of the interval between the “white” and “red” volume ranges of one of the weight sizes. The capacities of only 27 percent of the jars fall within the upper or lower third of the interval between the “white” and “red” volume range of one of the weight sizes, even though these two parts of that interval constitute 46 percent or more of the total volume range of any weight size. I have therefore concluded that most, if not all, of the Ganos type jars, as in the case of the light-brown ware amphoras, had been made to contain one or another of three types of wine: either “white” wine, “red” wine, or a very light, boiled sweet wine. Figure 3.3 relates the volume capacities of measurable Günsenin Type XII amphoras to both the logarike and the argyrike litra weight capacity systems. The figure shows that the volume capacities fall into three groups that correspond to 5-, 6-, and 7-minai weight sizes. For the sake of consistency, I have again assigned a weight value of 320 g to the logarike litra and a weight value of 333 g (320 × 25 / 24) to the argyrike litra; these values also give a good fit for the purposes of the graph. The volume capacities of some of the jars would have been quite suitable for either weight system, but it appears likely that Am 72, 74, 79, and 89 had been made for the argyrike litra weight system and Am 77, 83, and 88 for the logarike litra weight system. The unusually low capacity of the latter three jars further suggests that they may have been made to hold boiled wine with a relatively high specific gravity. We can now consider the dimensional and weight constraints under which potters were working as they attempted through a selection of jar dimensions and clay weight to make piriform amphoras with precise capacities. Tables 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 give, where possible, the 38

van Doorninck Jr.

Figure 3.3. Graph relating the volume capacities of measurable Günsenin XII amphoras to both the logarike and the argyrike litra weight capacity systems. The volume capacities fall into three groups that correspond to 5-, 6-, and 7-mina weight sizes.

weight and volume capacities, the principle dimensions, and the weights of all the Günsenin I and XII amphoras with precisely known or closely estimated volume capacities; one partially preserved jar is also included in table 3.3. The principal dimensions and weights given in the tables that accompany this study are those, of course, that the jars presently possess and not those that they had when first made. The drying and subsequent firing of the vessels would have resulted in some decrease in their dimensions and weight. I have chosen not to speculate on the original dimensions of the jars, since this would introduce yet another uncertainty into a study in which relative, as opposed to absolute, dimensional differences are sufficient to answer the fundamental questions raised. What is important to note here is that potters, in order to be successful in making jars with accurate capacities, would have had to control rigorously the water content, the amount and nature of inclusions in their clay, and the firing temperature, all factors in determining the degree of shrinkage. To maintain an appropriate level of measurement precision for purposes of analysis, dimensions as small as one-tenth of a dactyl will be used. It is well understood that the Byzantine potters did not in fact work with such a unit or this degree of precision, but they did work in standard units of linear measurement as small as the lepton (0.00975 m), or half dactyl. There was no single prescribed way by which to achieve a particular capacity through manipulation of dimensions and the amount of clay used. Most noteworthy is the fact that the jars of any particular capacity do not always have the same weight. Despite this absence of uniformity in dimensions and weight, it remains possible to discern basic proportional ideals and weight constraints, as well as ways whereby increases or decreases from one capacity to another could be made. The potters who made the Ganos type amphoras tended to follow quite closely proportional ideals in which body height was equal to maximum diameter and the maximum diameter height was 11 / 16 the maximum diameter. Thus, a jar with these ideal proportions and a maximum diameter of 1 Byzantine foot, or 16 dactyls, would have had a body height of 16 dactyls and a maximum diameter height of 11 dactyls. Overall height could not conform to a proportional ideal, since all necks (except to some extent those of Am 44 and 45) have the same standard dimensions that do not change as the jars become larger or smaller. Turning to the actual measurements (table  3.1), we find that out of 37 Ganos type Piriform Amphoras


1, variant 1

1 4 5 6 8 10 35 11 12 13 36 15 43 17 18 21 22 23 24 26 38 28 27 40 29 30 42 31

Subtype Cat. No.

9 sweet 11 “red” 11 sweet 11 sweet 11 sweet 11 “white” 12 sweet 12 sweet 12 sweet 12 sweet 12 “white” 13 “red” 13 “red” 13 “white” 13“white” / 14“red” 14 sweet 14 sweet 14 sweet 14 sweet 14 sweet 15 “red” 15 sweet 15 sweet 16 sweet 16 sweet 20 sweet 21 “red” 21 “red”

Weight Capacity (minai) 8.383 ca. 9.961+ 10.199 ca. 10.273 ca. 10.329 ca. 10.672 11.085 ca. 11.138 11.328 11.504 ca. 11.642 11.775 ca. 11.794 ca. 12.499 ca. 12.600 ca. 13.095 13.318 — 13.295 ca. 13.341 13.625 13.750 — ca. 14.970 ca. 15.208 18.523 ca. 18.998 ca. 19.001

Body Capacity (liters) 15.1 15.4 15.4 15.5 15.3 15.4 15.7 15.5 16.1 16.2 15.9 16.3 16.1 16.2 16.1 16.6 16.6 16.8 17.1 16.9 17.1 17.1 17.0 17.2 17.5 18.3 18.5 18.7

Max. Diam. (dactyls) 15.0 — 15.7 — ca. 16.0 — 16.5 — 15.6 16.4 ca. 16.5 16.3 ca. 16.8 — — ca. 16.7 17.2 17.6 17.2 — 17.5 17.0 17.4 ca. 17.5 ca. 17.8 18.4 — —

Body H. (dactyls)

Table 3.1. Capacities, dimensions, and weights of Ganos type jars (320 g / logarike litra)

30.1 — 31.1 — ca. 31.3 — 32.2 — 31.7 32.6 ca. 32.4 32.6 32.9 — — ca. 33.3 33.8 34.4 34.3 — 34.6 34.1 34.4 ca. 34.7 ca. 35.3 36.7 — —

Max. Diam. + Body H. 18.2 18.5 18.7 19.2 19.2 19.5 19.6 20.3 18.8 19.2 19.5 19.3 20.0 19.5 20.0 19.6 20.3 20.6 — 20.7 — 19.9 20.4+ 20.6 21.0 21.3 21.6+ 21.5+

H. (dactyls) 10.8 10.7 11.1 10.6 10.6 11.2 11.4 11.8 10.8 11.4 11.1 11.0 11.6 11.3 11.7 11.5 11.9 11.8 11.7 12.2 11.5 11.3 12.0 12.2 12.1 12.5 13.4 13.2

Max. Diam. H. (dactyls) — — — — — — — 0.5 — — — — — — — 0.5 — 0.5 — — 0.9 — 0.7 — — — — —

Wall Th. (dactyls)

ca. 18.6 ca. 18 — — ca. 19.1 — 21.0 — ca. 19.5 ca. 20.6 — ca. 21.2 ca. 19.7 ca. 20.9 22.2 ca. 20.6 ca. 22.3 — — 23.6 — ca. 22.6 — ca. 23.1 — ca. 23.1 — ca. 23.6

Weight (litrai)



1, variant 6

1, variant 5

1, variant 4

1, variant 3

1, variant 2

55 56

50 51 52 53

47 48 49

3 34 16 37 19 25 39 41


44 45

2 32 33 7 9 14 20

21 sweet 21 sweet

11 “white” 13 sweet 13 sweet 14 sweet

11 sweet 13 “red” 14 sweet

10 sweet 12 “red” 13 sweet 13 sweet 13 “white” / 14 “red” 15 “red” 15 “white” / 16 “red” 18 “white” / 19 sweet

13 “white”

20 “white” 21

10 “red” 10 “red” 10 sweet 11 sweet 11 sweet 12 “white” 14 sweet

ca. 19.601 19.723

10.716 12.164 12.235 13.057

10.226 11.860 ca. 13.162

9.452+ ca. 10.931 ca. 12.028 ca. 12.187 12.640 13.699 ca. 14.383 ca. 17.464


ca. 19.297 —

9.003 ca. 9.082 ca. 9.540 10.341 ca. 10.366 11.657 12.980

19.1 19.2

16.0 16.5 16.9 17.0

16.0 16.2 17.1

15.4 16.1 16.1 16.5 16.9 17.0 17.4 18.6


19.5 20.0

14.7 14.6 14.9 15.2 15.0 16.3 16.8

— 19.1

16.8 16.8 16.5 17.3

15.4 16.3 —

16.1 — — — 16.6 17.6 ca. 17.2 —


ca. 17.9 19.0

16.0 — — 16.4 — 17.2 17.7

— 38.3

32.8 33.3 33.4 34.3

31.4 32.5 —

31.5 — — — 33.5 34.6 ca. 34.6 —


ca. 37.4 39.0

30.7 — — 31.6 — 33.5 34.5

22.5 22.1

19.6 19.9 19.6 20.3

18.3 19.1 20.2

19.0 19.4 20.5 19.5 19.6 20.6 20.2 21.3


20.9 —

18.9 19.4 19.0 19.1 19.1 20.1 20.7

13.8 13.3

12.0 12.1 11.9 12.1

10.4 11.6 11.9

11.6 11.6 12.0 11.7 11.1 11.9 11.7 12.3


12.0 12.8

11.0 11.2 11.3 10.9 11.6 11.6 11.7

0.7 —

— — — —

— — —

— — — — — — 0.4 —


— 0.8

— — — — — — —

ca. 29.8 29.9

21.1 — 23.4 26.5

18.9 ca. 23.2 ca. 22.9

21.4 ca. 22.7 ca. 23.0 ca. 22.9 22.9 24.0 ca. 24.1 ca. 26.3


ca. 27.6 —

ca. 18.9 — — ca. 19.1 ca. 19.0 21.0 ca. 23.3

amphoras with a known body height, 21 jars (Am 1, 5, 12, 13, 15, 19, 21, 24, 27–30, 38, 39, 40, 46, 48, 51–53, and 56) have a body height that is within 0.5 dactyls (1 lepton) of being equal to the maximum diameter; 11 jars (Am 3, 8, 14, 20, 22, 23, 25, 35, 36, 43, and 50) have slightly more slender proportions in which the body height is 0.6 to 1 dactyl greater than the maximum diameter; and two jars (Am 2 and 7) have a body height 1.3 to 1.2 dactyls greater than the maximum diameter, respectively. It is noteworthy that nine of the 13 more slender amphoras are smaller jars with weight capacities ranging from 10 minai of “red” wine to 12 minai of “white” wine. Three jars have somewhat stouter proportions in which the body height is 0.6 (Am 47), 1.0 (Am 45), and 1.6 (Am 44) dactyls less than the maximum diameter. Am 44 and 45, with capacities of 20 and 21 minai of wine, are among our largest Ganos type jars. Am 47 has a capacity of only 11 minai but has a variant shape with an abnormally spherical body and undersized base. The potters of the light-brown ware amphoras (table 3.2) also tended to follow quite closely proportional ideals involving body height and maximum diameter. In the case of Am 58, the only complete amphora of this type having a neck made from a separate piece of clay, the ideal is for the body height to be equal to the maximum diameter, the body height of this jar being only 0.4 dactyls greater than the maximum diameter. The rest of the light-brown ware amphoras reflect a slightly more slender ideal. Five out of the seven complete jars without a separate neck (Am 59, 62–64, and 66) have a height to the base of the neck that ranges from 0.6 to 1.4 dactyl(s) greater than the maximum diameter. Am 61, with an elongated body, and Am 65, a noticeably more slender jar, have a height to the base of the neck that is 1.5 and 1.9 dactyls greater than the maximum diameter, respectively. The maximum diameter height of the Ganos type jars is within 0.6 dactyl of being 11 / 16 the body height in every instance where the body height is known. Among the lightbrown ware amphoras, Am 57 and 58, the jars with a separate neck, similarly have a maximum diameter height that is only 0.4 and 0.2 dactyls greater than 11 / 16 the body height, respectively. Five of the light- brown ware amphoras without a separate neck, Am 59 and 62–65, depart somewhat from the 11 / 16 ideal, having a maximum diameter height that is from 0.7 to 1.0 dactyls less than 11 / 16 their height to the base of the neck, but the other two jars without a separate neck, Am 61 and 66, have a maximum diameter height that is only 0.3 dactyl greater and 0.1 dactyl less than 11 / 16 their height to the base of the neck, respectively. This close adherence to proportional ideals exhibited by the Ganos type and light-brown ware amphoras would have required regular rates of change in body dimensions as weight capacities increased or decreased. Through trial and error, I have endeavored to determine what these rates of dimensional change were. The results are presented in tables 3.4 and 3.5. I want to emphasize that I do not mean to suggest here that all of the potters who made Ganos and light-brown ware jars were attempting in either case to reproduce exactly the same body dimensions for any particular capacity weight size. This is clearly not the case. Tables 3.4 and 3.5 do give, however, an accurate indication of the magnitude of the incremental changes in body dimensions with which all the potters had to work. Table  3.4 shows a theoretical relationship between weight capacity and the sum of body height and maximum diameter closely followed by a great majority of the Ganos type amphoras. Between the weight sizes of 9 and 14 minai, an increase or decrease of 1 mina in weight size was obtained by increasing or decreasing by 1 dactyl the sum of body height and maximum diameter. Beyond the 14-mina weight size, the amount of change decreased to 42

van Doorninck Jr.

2, variant 1 2, variant 3 2, variant 4 2 variant 5 3 4



57 58 59 62 63 64 61 65 66

Cat. No. 9 “white” 11 “red” 11 sweet 15 sweet 16 sweet 17 sweet 15 sweet 12 sweet 14 sweet

Weight Capacity (minai) 8.640 10.007 10.304 14.161 14.918 16.103 ca. 14.085 11.252 13.039

Body Capacity (liters) +14.6 15.5 15.5 17.2 16.8 18.0 16.7 15.8 16.9

Max. Diam. (dactyls) 16.1 15.9 16.1 18.0 18.1 18.7 18.2 17.7 17.8

Body H. (dactyls)

Table 3.2. Capacities, dimensions, and weights of light-brown ware jars (320 g / logarike litra)

+30.7 31.4 31.6 35.2 34.9 36.7 34.9 33.5 34.7

Max. Diam. + Body H. (dactyls)

— 19.2 18.4 20.3 20.9 21.4 21.2 20.3 20.5

H. (dactyls)

11.5 11.1 10.4 11.5 11.8 11.9 12.2 11.5 12.3

Max. Diam. H. (dactyls)

— — 20.9 ca 23.9 20.8 ca. 24.8 — 22.3 ca. 23.4

Weight (litrai)



2. variant 2

2, variant 1

1, variant 4

1, variant 2

1, variant 1








68 70 72 73 74 75 77 78 79 84 80

Cat. No.







5 5 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 7

Weight Capacity (minai)







— 4.720 5.100 — 5.103 — 5.607 — 5.951 — 6.848

Body Capacity (liters)







11.5 11.7 12.0 12.0 11.9 11.9 12.5 12.6 12.6 12.4 13.0

Max. Diam. (dactyls)







12.6 12.5 13.0 12.8 12.9 13.1 13.2 — 13.0 — 14.5

Body H. (dactyls)

Table 3.3. Capacities, dimensions, and weights of Günsenin XII jars (320 and 333 g / litra)







16.4 15.8 16.2 16.3 16.8 16.5 17.0 16.5 16.6 — 18.3

H. (dactyls)







9.1 9.2 9.2 9.6 9.8 9.2 9.6 9.3 9.3 9.6 10.5

Max. Diam. H. (dactyls)

0.3–0.6 — — 0.4–0.6 — 0.4 — 0.3–0.4 — 0.5 —

Wall Th. (dactyls)



22.50 n/a n/a n/a 33.75

Keel Length

>30.00 n/a n/a n/a 45.00

Keel Length

31.50 30.00 30.00 28.50 39.75

Length from Post to Post

42.00 40.00 40.00 38.00 53.00

Length from Post to Post

2.75 2.56 2.75 2.50 3.50

Flat Portion of the Hull Bottom

11.00 10.25 11.00 10.00 14.00

Flat Portion of the Hull Bottom

4.50 3.25 4.00 3.75 5.00

Maximum Breadth

18.00 13.00 16.00 15.00 20.00

Maximum Breadth

Table 10.1. Dimensions of some panfili known to have been built in Genoa in the second half of the thirteenth century

4.00 2.75 n/a n/a n/a

Height at the Stem

16.00 11.00 n/a n/a n/a

Height at the Stem

4.00 n/a n/a n/a n/a

Height at the Sternpost

16.00 n/a n/a n/a n/a

Height at the Sternpost

2.00 3.25 2.00 1.88 2.50

Depth of Hold

8.00 13.00 8.00 7.50 10.00

Depth of Hold

stressing here, however, pertain first to the hull extremities, the height measurement of which is greater than the depth of hold amidships, and to the keel length, which is shorter than the length between the posts. We can safely assert that the shipbuilding method used in the construction of the Genoese panfilo was frame-first. The contract of 1267 explicitly refers to floor timbers and futtocks, which are already mentioned in twelfth- century notarial deeds. In addition, a document dated to 1259 from Portovenere reports the sale of some garbato timbers, that is, wood that grows naturally curved.8 In shipbuilding, the garbato timbers provide the hull with better flexibility and strength.9 The contract of 1267 reports that the panfilo still utilized quarter rudders, which were the traditional steering method in the Mediterranean. By this period, however, the Genoese fleet had already switched to the stern rudder.10 In thirteenth-century Liguria, were the panfilo and the galea the same type of ship? It seems reasonable to assert that the two types were distinct because the different names appear separately in documents that are written by the same notary and involving the same shipbuilder, as will be evident in the case of the shipbuilder Bonaver from Portovenere. Even in modern times, it seems unlikely that a shipbuilding industry would refer to a vessel by two different names. In addition, the shipbuilding documents found to date reveal no confusion between the two terms. Shipbuilding contracts often express some ambiguity with regard to the naval terminology used to describe the ships, such as saettia sive (or seu, or videlicet, meaning “that is, namely”) galeone. Thus far, no references attest to a panfilo sive galea, although discussions of a “ship, that is panfilo” (legno videlicet panfilo)11 and a “saettia, that is panfilo” (saettia sive panfilo) have been located.12 Returning to the differences between the panfilo and the galea, based on the descriptions so far, it appears that their hulls are dissimilar in shape, despite having a generally similar size. The stem and sternpost of the galea do not appear to have been much higher than the depth of hold, and the keel length is not so much shorter than the length overall. Moreover, Genoese fiscal documents and literary sources describe the panfilo and the galea separately.13 As far as can be ascertained, it appears that the Ligurian panfili were used primarily for commercial purposes14 and occasionally—because they were very light ships that could have been rowed—during raids in warfare.15 It is clear that the panfili relied as well on sails, which were almost certainly lateen and mounted on two masts.16 Is the Ligurian panfilo a typological and cultural descendant of the Byzantine ship of the same name? The technical environments in which the Ligurian panfili were built (in this case, Genoa and Portovenere) could still have been affected by Byzantine technology, even some centuries after the Byzantines had left this region. It is likely that local shipyards were the direct heirs of Byzantine predecessors. It therefore cannot be excluded that the Byzantine and the Ligurian panfilo were the same type of ship evolving naturally over the centuries. For the period between the ninth or tenth century (when the earliest Byzantine sources attest to the panfilo) and the thirteenth century (when documents appear on the Ligurian panfilo), shipbuilding contracts are completely lacking in Portovenere and those written in Genoa are few. The absence of a clear evolutionary link between these periods, however, may reflect simply a lack of documentation. Table 10.2 provides details of certain contracts for the construction of panfili and other ships of similar size, as gathered from notarial accounts.17 These shipbuilding contracts refer to shipyards in Portovenere, since the notaries worked in that town. It is important to note 120


Table 10.2. Details from contracts regarding the construction of panfili and other ships of similar size Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Portovenere Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Portovenere Portovenere Genoa Genoa

Galeotta Galeotta Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Legno (ship) Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Panfilo Saettia Saettia Tarida Tarida

10 July 1259 4 December 1259 13 July 1259 13 July 1259 13 July 1259 13 July 1259 28 October 1259 28 October 1259 15 December 1259 19 May 1260 20 May 1260 1259 28 September 1267 29 September 1267 20 May 1271 8 July 1281 14 July 1281 15 April 1282 1 June 1301 20 July 1259 14 August 1261 13 August 1271 14 April 1282

that shipbuilders from Portovenere built the majority of the ships constructed in Genoa. It is difficult to gauge the prevalence of this phenomenon—namely, how many shipbuilders from Portovenere worked in Genoa—but their presence in Genoa seems to be a continuous theme. Some of the ship types listed above ( galeotta and saettia) remained in use in Liguria throughout the Middle Ages until the sixteenth century and beyond. The tarida was used until the end of the fourteenth century, whereas the legno seems to represent either a controversial type or simply a generic term. The legni known in this period resemble the size of panfili and the galeotte, with which they share a relationship highlighted by the use of the word sive (contracts of panfili sive legni and galeotte sive legni).18

Bonaver of Portovenere The biography of a shipbuilder who lived in Genoa—Bonaver, who seems to have been from Portovenere—can be traced thanks to sixteen documents recording his work in the shipyard (table 10.3). It should be noted that in thirteenth-century Liguria, last names were not fully used and the words “from Portovenere” might indicate either the shipbuilder’s origin or his last name. In this particular case, it seems likely that it represents his origin rather than his last name, since other references to it in thirteenth-century documents are lacking.19 Genoese Pamphilus


Table 10.3. The biography of a shipbuilder named Bonaver, who lived in Genoa, is plotted based on 16 documents recording his work in shipyards Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa Genoa

28 April 1264 20 October 1265 8 August 1270 16 January 1281 16 January 1281 7 May 1281 7 May 1281 24 May 1281 28 May 1281 8 July 1281 10 July 1281 14 July 1281 6 August 1281 14 April 1282 15 April 1282 25 September 1282

Construction Sale Chartering Sale Sale Sale Sale Sale Sale Construction Sale Construction Sale Construction Construction Sale

Galea Saettia sive panfilo Galea Timber Timber Panfilo Panfilo Timber — Panfilo Timber Panfilo Timber Tarida Panfilo Nails

Bonaver worked in Genoa for eighteen years (1264–82), during which time he built a number of ships, including panfili (at least six), as well as saettie, galleys, and taride. In that period, he also sold timber for shipbuilding, along with some nails. It seems likely that he owned a large shipyard because numerous orders were placed for ships that could not have been built by a single shipwright. It is interesting to note that a document dated 20 October 1265 records the sale of a “saettia, that is, panfilo.” In this particular case, the ship type is undefined. For reasons that are unclear now, documents indicating two, or even three, ship types that could have been obtained from the same general hull form were frequent. The words saettia sive panfilo indicated that the hull could have been used for either ship. It seems that rather than indicating uncertainty, the intention was to refer to an undefined ship type with a single term. In the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, saettie were large commercial ships. Little is known about those saettie dating to the thirteenth century, except that they were more slender and propelled by oars. What relevance do thirteenth- century Genoese panfili have for the seventh- century Yassıada shipwreck? Based on the reconstruction of the Yassıada hull and on what the panfilo probably looked like, there are two features common to both ships. The panfilo presents a sickle-shaped hull, with an overall length much greater than the keel length. Might this indicate that the Genoese panfili trace their origin to the earlier Byzantine world? The ship types that were used in Liguria in later centuries tend to depart from such a remarkable sickle-shaped hull. Also, the difference between the length overall and the keel length diminishes, thereby increasing the hull’s cargo capacity. In doing so, the hull became perhaps less elegant in shape but more stable and functional for commercial purposes. The adaptation for commercial purposes of ships previously used in naval warfare (and



therefore very slender) is a noteworthy trend in medieval naval architecture; these include galleons, saettie, brigantines, and perhaps also lembi. These vessels kept their same names, but their hull lengths were extended. Beginning in the late medieval period, slender hulls became more stable and suitable for transportation. Already in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Genoese shipbuilders were known for their expertise. They were particularly renowned for the construction of light vessels that were probably originally built for naval warfare, such as galleys and other similar ships with which the panfili can be included. The Ligurian shipbuilding clearly as early as the Classical period: in Varazze, shipyards are the Late Roman period. It is likely that, during the Byzantine period and the following centuries, shipbuilding technology was transmitted. It later developed as contacts were made with northern European and other Mediterranean shipyards, reaching its full flourish in the late medieval period (twelfth to sixteenth centuries). Again, it is not clear whether the Byzantine and the Genoese panfili were the same type of ship; three centuries and several hundred kilometers separate these two vessels. As far as shipbuilding technology is concerned, however, it is possible that Genoa was the direct heir to Byzantine naval technology. Notes 1. The names of the notaries who worked in Portovenere are recorded in the documents from the State Archive of Genoa (ASG) and have been published by G. Falco and G. Pistarino, Il cartulario di Giona di Portovenere (sec. XIII) (notary Giovanni Giona) and G. Pistarino, Le carte portovenevesi di Tealdo de Sigestro (1258–59) (notary Tealdo de Sigestro). The names of the notaries, which are mentioned in this article and have been unpublished so far, are in ASG, Antichi Notai, registers (cartulari) 36, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75 / I, 75 / II, and 118 (notary Guglielmo di San Giorgio); registers (cartulari) 73, 79, 80, 96, 97, 157, 173, and 276 (notary Leonardo Negrino). 2. R. Eberenz, Schiffe an den Künsten der Pyrenaehalbinsel, p. 248. 3. B. E.  Vidos, Storia delle parole marinaresche italiane passate in francese: Contributo storicolinguistico all’espansione della lingua nautica italiana. 4. F. Ciciliot, Le superbe navi: Cantieri e tipologie navali liguri medievali, in Atti e Memorie della Società Savonese di Storia Patria, nuova serie, vol. XLI. 5. ASG, Antichi Notai, register (cartulare) 70, folio 251r (notary Guglielmo di San Giorgio). This document and the other documents discussed in this article are written in medieval Latin, with many terms in the local language. Here, I have transcribed only some passages from the original documents. 6. ASG, Antichi notai, register (cartulare) 118, folio 120r (notary Guglielmo di San Giorgio), Genoa 1 June 1301, in L. T. Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, note 1. 7. The table is divided into two parts: the upper part of the table reports the measurements according to ancient Genoese metrology (1 goa / cubito was equal to 75 cm and was used to measure the length overall and the keel length; the palmo was equal to 25 cm and was used to measure the flat portion of the frames, the maximum breadth, the stem, the sternpost, and the depth of hold). The lower part of the table translates these ancient Genoese measurements into modern metrology. The documents are from ASG, Guglielmo di San Giorgio, register (cartulare) 70, folio 251r (Genoa, 28 April 1267); Leonardo Negrino, register (cartulare) 80, folio 114r (Genoa, 8 July 1281); Leonardo Negrino, register (cartulare) 80, folio 183r (Genoa, 15 April 1282). 8. Pistarino, Le carte portoveneresi di Tealdo de Sigestro (1258–59). 9. The earliest mention of the term garbo as a timber used in shipbuilding is in ASG, Antichi notai, register (cartulare) 18 / II, folio 339v, Genoa, 7 August 1249 (notary Tommaso di San Lorenzo): purchase of some timbers unius galee videlicet maerias, stamenarias et fulcacias ad sufficiens . . . ad galibum . . . ( . . . for one galley, that is, sufficient floor timbers, futtocks, and other timbers . . . naturally curved . . . ). 10. ASG, Antichi notai, register (cartulare) 70, folio 108v, Genoa, 28 April 1264 (notary Guglielmo

Genoese Pamphilus


di San Giorgio): building . . . unam galeam bonam et bene ordinatam de bono legnamine cum uno timone . . . (one seaworthy and well-designed galley, built with good timbers, and equipped with a rudder . . . ). 11. Guglielmo di San Giorgio, documents already mentioned, Genoa, 29 September 1267 “lignus videlicet panfilus.” 12. ASG, Antichi notai, register (cartulare) 28, folio 39v, Genoa, 27 July 1251 (notary Filippo de Sauro): I sell . . . sagiteam meam que dicitur panfilus cum sartia et aparatu . . . (I sell . . . my saettia, that is, panfilo, and its rigging cables and its equipment as well . . . ). 13. Jacopo Doria’s annals, at the entry for the year 1284: “LVIII galeas et VIII panfili armati fuerunt a tertiis usque ad vesperas”; Statutes of Gazaria (1340): “pro quolibet ligno navigabili unius coperte, panfilo, galea, exceptis de Syria, de Romania et de Flandria, CC lib.” Both references are in Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, n. 1. 14. ASG, Antichi Notai, register (cartulare) 70, folio 257r (notary Guglielmo di San Giorgio), Genoa, 6 October 1267: transportation of iron from Piombino to Gaeta aboard a panfilo. In other cases, wheat and oil are also mentioned (Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, n. 1). 15. Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, n. 1: “Nicolaus Stralleria et alii conveniunt inter se armare panfilum unum de remis LXXX, qui vocatur Leonus, causa eundi ad lucrandum contra inimicos communis Ianue” (Nicolò Stralleria and other people agreed to arm and fit a panfilo, which is called Leone and is rowed by 80 oars. The panfilo will be used for raiding against the enemies of the city of Genoa). 16. An inventory (Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, n. 1) reports two masts for the saettia sive panfilo (20 October 1265). The same information is in ASG, Antichi notai, register (cartulare) 79, folio 87r (notary Leonardo Negrino), Genoa, 28 March 1274. 17. For the documents dated to 1259 / 60 see Pistarino, Le carte portoveneresi di Tealdo de Sigestro (1258–59); 1267–71: Guglielmo di San Giorgio (see note 1 in this article); 1281–82: Leonardo Negrino (see note 1 in this article); documents dated to 1259 and 1 June 1301: Belgrano, Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di San Ludovico IX Re di Francia, p. 26, n. 1. 18. Ciciliot, Le superbe navi. Cantieri e tipologie navali liguri medievali, in Atti e Memorie della Società Savonese di Storia Patria, nuova serie, vol. XLI. 19. The documents listed in the above table are from ASG, Antichi notai cit. in Pistarino, Le carte portoveneresi di Tealdo de Sigestro (1258–59) (1259); Guglielmo di San Giorgio (1264, 1265, and 1270); Leonardo Negrino (documents dated to 1281 and 1282).



part iii maritime contacts in the roman , byzantine , and medieval mediterranean


The Levanzo I Wreck and the Transfer of Technology by Sea in the Late Roman Mediterranean Jeffrey G. Royal

Introduction As part of the Egadi Islands Survey Project (EISP), the Ufficio di Soprintendenza del Mare in Sicily and RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) have surveyed the waters around the Egadi islands off the northwest Sicilian coast each summer since 2005.1 The Roman-era Levanzo I wreck was discovered in deep waters carrying a consignment of vaulting tubes in association with a shipment of foodstuffs from Tunisia. The Levanzo I wreck has been mapped, partially excavated, and studied, with a preliminary assessment published by project codirectors Sebastiano Tusa, Soprintendente del Mare, and the author, the director of RPMNF.2 This wreck site clearly demonstrates that vaulting tubes were shipped as cargo and allows a reinterpretation of vaulting tubes found on other wrecks. The vaulting tubes from the wreck, combined with the evidence from their employment in structures, can be understood through a model whereby economics governing overseas trade during the Imperial period were a significant mechanism in the diffusion of this technology. Additionally, the distribution of vaulting tubes, both in structures and shipments, constitutes a local economic indicator.

Levanzo I Wreck The foodstuffs shipped in amphoras on the Levanzo I wreck included oil, fish products, wine, and grain, along with a smaller amount of foodstuffs shipped in amphoras from Spain and the eastern Mediterranean, coarse tableware, glass, possibly metal ingots, and over 150 individual vaulting tubes.3 The southeastern end of the wreck site contains numerous amphoras, concretions, and a distinctly square-shaped deposit comprised of large amphora sherds, tableware, and a concentration of over 150 individual vaulting tubes (fig. 11.1).4 Other vaulting tubes are scattered around the site, and others were collected by octopuses within some of the larger amphoras. As the small vaulting tubes are more easily buried and carried away by octopuses, the original cargo may have included upwards of 400 to 500 tubes. The vaulting tubes from the Levanzo I wreck are consistent in dimension, shape, and form with many of those found within early Imperial architectural remains at North African sites.5 The quantity and concentrated deposit of vaulting tubes on this site indicate that they were construction cargo and not used on board the vessel. Many of the amphoras on the surface of the wreck were damaged and in fragmentary condition but clearly belong to large, cylindrical types. Fourteen amphoras were raised for analysis. A preliminary discussion of individual amphora dimensions, characteristics, and types was published in 2011,6 while subsequent analysis after conservation has resulted in a 127

Figure 11.1. The Levanzo I wreck site and deposit of vaulting tubes ( J. Royal).

reassessment of several amphora type identifications and a consequent shift in the ship’s proposed operational date. Ceramic samples have been submitted for petrographic analyses and will be presented in a forthcoming publication along with a complete discussion of the new type identifications.7 A summary of the new identifications is provided here, as it is pertinent to the date and origin of the cargo. Two amphoras (SI06AA- 0014 and - 0017) were identified as Almagro 51C with the caveat that they did not have toes; the presence of an Almagro 51C jar on the wreck site also provided a context. Subsequently Michel Bonifay identified another Spanish amphora, Dressel 23-Tejarillo 1.8 The amphora identified as an Almagro 51C (SI06AA-0037) remains as such; Bonifay offered another possible identification as his type 62 produced in Nabeul, which is a good match.9 However, nearly identical comparisons with Almagro 51C examples come from Ampurias10 and the Chretienne D11 and Port Vendre 112 wrecks. In discussions with Bonifay, he acknowledges that the two possible types have nearly identical morphology, are contemporaneous, and cannot be distinguished on form alone but require petrographic analysis. A sample from this amphora has been taken, and the results will appear in a forthcoming publication. The most critical typology reassessment regards the most problematic amphora (SI06AA-0023), which was presented as type Keay 52. A recent consultation with Carmela Franco resulted in a reassessment of this amphora as type Ostia I, 455 in light of her dissertation on this type.13 Although concurrent consultations with other specialists favor a Keay 52 identification, the author has opted for the identification as type Ostia I, 455. This classification alleviates the original dating conundrum, whereby the single Keay 52 jar forced the date of the wreck into the fourth century and resulted in the original estimate of 350–75 as an operational date. Additionally, results recently published by Bonifay from excavations in Tunisia provide a reassessment for the dating of type MRA1 amphoras.14 The rim forms on the three examples raised from the Levanzo I wreck correspond with those in contexts dated 128


Figure 11.2. Measurements for vaulting tubes ( J. Royal).

to the last quarter of the third century. With the reclassification of the Ostia I, 455 amphora, it is now possible to refine the date for the Levanzo I wreck site to the last quarter of the third century.

Vaulting Tubes Vaulting tubes (fig. 11.2) were ceramic building materials used almost exclusively for the construction of vaults and arches. These hollow tubes were designed such that the tapering nozzle of one nested into the open end of another to form a chain. As the nozzles were tapered and smaller than their open ends, they could be joined at a range of angles. Chains of vaulting tubes were erected side by side to form a vault. Based on in situ finds within architecture, the linked tubes were oriented such that their open ends were pointed downward and the nozzles toward the vault’s apex. At the apex, a tube without a nozzle fit between two conjoining nozzles of opposing chains. They were first assembled without mortar to achieve the proper shape and then taken down and presumably stored in an organized fashion that may have included marking and record taking in order to reconstruct correctly. Once mortared in place, the form was covered with a gypsum-based plaster to produce a flat surface on each side. Concrete was poured atop the form, and the interior was covered with another plaster coating, usually a lime-based one that was decorated, leaving the tubes encased within the structure.15 Hence the structural form of vaulting tubes was designed to hold the weight of the cement until it cured, while the cement formed the actual load-bearing structure. Alexandre Lézine noted in many structures that a few tubes had come loose due to the poor adherence of the gypsum-concrete interface, yet there was no compromise to the structure.16

Origin and Development The overwhelming majority of sites where vaulting tubes were employed are located in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Lézine documented the use of vaulting tubes in structures spanning the second to seventh centuries from Ravenna, Italy, and Bulla Regia, Tunisia, and produced examples of their use in third-century structures at Tabarka, Tunisia, and Tipasa, Algeria.17 Lézine noted that the use of vaulting tubes in North Africa in the first to second centuries preceded their use in mainland Italy and surmised that they first appeared on the Levanzo I Wreck


peninsula in the fourth century.18 E. Arslan indicated an initial use in North Africa during the Imperial era after examining a number of sites in Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy19; likewise, F. Rakob postulated that vaulting tubes originated in North Africa during the second century.20 A comprehensive overview of vaulting tubes from terrestrial sites presented by R. J. A. Wilson provides a valuable catalog of vaulting tube locations that includes terrestrial and shipwreck sites, as well as museum specimens.21 For the Roman era, Wilson observes that the overwhelming majority of sites incorporating vaulting tubes are found in Tunisia and eastern Algeria. Sicily and central Italy have the next highest occurrences, albeit somewhat later in date, while the northern section of the eastern Adriatic (Dalmatia) along with the southern and northern Italian peninsula have a few instances. Outside of these areas, the use of vaulting tubes is rare. Although Wilson does not deal explicitly with this relative chronological difference between areas, he implicitly assigns their emergence in the second century to North Africa. The distribution of vaulting tubes in Sicily shows they were not prevalent until after the third century and not widespread throughout the island until the seventh century.22 Although little petrology has been performed to date, fabrics suggest that most vaulting tubes were manufactured in North Africa. Vaulting tubes from Carthage examined by D. Peacock had a red, orange-red, or buff fabric with a white surface due to the effect of salt and / or seawater on the lime in the clay (10YR 6 / 6, 7 / 4 or 2.5YR 5 / 6). All were of a local fabric, and a vaulting tube waster was found a seventh-century layer.23 Likewise, the North African examples from the Scoglia della Sirena wreck were of similar red fabric color (7.5YR 5 / 6–8),24 and those from the Levanzo I wreck are fashioned from reddish clay (break, wet: 10R 3 / 3–4 / 3; surface, wet: 10R 4 / 4) with coarse, white inclusions.25 Vaulting tubes found at Leptiminus, Tunisia, were also considered to be of local manufacture based on their fabrics, although there is no firm date for their contexts.26 On the basis of fabrics, Bound concluded that the vaulting tubes from the Punta del Fenaio wreck site, like those he had observed in other areas around Sicily and on other shipwrecks, were probably of North African origin.27 A distribution map of terrestrial and maritime find spots of vaulting tubes (fig. 11.3) and a chronological chart (fig. 11.4) of their use in architectural remains give rise to several important patterns.28 Based on these data, the use of vaulting tubes took place between the second and seventh centuries. The largest total number of sites is clearly in North Africa, specifically in Tunisia, and the chronological distribution shows a pattern of use where the technology is well established in North Africa by the second century and there is a peak in the use of this technology during the third and fourth centuries (fig. 11.4). The employment of vaulting tubes in construction rises in Sicily, Italy, and Dalmatia by the fourth century. For the 87 known building types in which vaulting tubes were utilized, baths, churches, and residential buildings dominate in relatively equal numbers (table  11.1); however, earlier structures were primarily bath complexes and dwellings, while those from the fourth century onwards were often ecclesiastical in nature. This differentiation reflects the changing types of monumental architecture over the course of the Late Roman Empire. Taken together, the fabric and site distribution data indicate that vaulting tubes were first used regularly in North Africa, probably sometime in the first century. Hypotheses regarding the invention of vaulting tubes in North Africa center on several motives: (a) the reduction of weight in arches and vaults, (b) an increase in insulation, and (c) a solution for building forms when wood is scarce and / or costly. Studies have indicated that amphoras used in vaults provide a negligible reduction in overall structural weight, although there is a reduction in



Figure 11.3. Location of vaulting tubes at terrestrial and maritime sites ( J. Royal, with terrestrial sites after Wilson 1992).

cartloads of materials needed for producing concrete.29 The use of mortar to join vaulting tubes created a relatively thin air pocket and undoubtedly had a similarly minor effect on overall vault weight. The internal space of vaulting tubes, often partially filled with mortar and plaster, had a small and irregular air pocket that did not produce a particularly good insulation layer. Moreover, the solid areas between adjacent tube chains would diffuse heat, and voids of >1 cm must have allowed for significant transfer of heat. Hollow bricks used in bath complexes were designed to transfer heated air; the small nozzles of vaulting tubes, often blocked with mortar, could not function in this capacity. It may be that the use of vaulting tubes arose in an economy where wood was scarce and thus less economical for the construction of concrete forms. A strain on wood supply can be inferred from the evidence for agricultural fuel in kilns in Tunisia.30 Demand for wood as fuel (lignum) came from public bath complexes and the smelting and glass industries; demand for wood as medium (materia) came from furniture and tool manufacturers and shipbuilders. Demand for wood as both lignum and materia led to it being shipped overseas as a trade good, including from Tunisia.31 A rise in wood costs gave vaulting tubes a comparative advantage for construction projects as early as the late first century, and this technology proliferated North Africa during the second and third centuries. The coarseware industry expanded rapidly in Tunisia during the third century and into the fourth, and ceramic vaulting tubes could have been fired from the same clay and in the same kilns typically used for coarseware production. With kilns burning agricultural waste, wood could be bypassed altogether in the manufacturing and construction processes.

Levanzo I Wreck


Figure 11.4. Vaulting tubes at terrestrial and maritime sites, by century ( J. Royal).

Vaulting Tube Metrics No publication known to the author has presented comprehensive measurements of published vaulting tubes, which are summarized in table 11.2.32 Early typological analysis was conducted by Durm33 and later by Lézine. Peacock noted that the vaulting tubes from Carthage were generally in two size classes based on total length, short and long; the shorter ones were between 13.0 and 14.0 cm, while the longer one was just over 18.0 cm; most examples were between 13.0 and 15.4 cm and thus within his “short” category. 34 Eleven examples from the Levanzo I wreck were recovered and measured, and their dimensions, along with those from other published or furnished examples, are provided in table 11.2. Of the 22 complete examples, 20 fall within the range of maximum length dimensions associated with Peacock’s small category. The remaining two are significantly larger.35 Although the sample size is small and undoubtedly has different origins, there is remarkable consistency in the form and dimensions of the tubes, particularly those in the small category. The vaulting tubes from the Levanzo I wreck, assumed to be from a single source, are consistent in their overall dimensions, particularly their body and nozzle lengths. This is logical in that their dimensions needed to be consistent in order to interlock and function as a vault form. Hence, a simple system in which there existed two sizes of vaulting tubes, “short,”