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An urban warehouse for foodstuffs in the Iulia Valentia Banasa colony (Mauretania Tingitana, Morocco)

Francesco Martorella
p. 61-77

Résumés

Les témoignages archéologiques de greniers ou d’entrepôts en Afrique du Nord sont peu nombreux, ne s’étendant qu’aux sources épigraphiques et littéraires. Les recherches récentes menées par l’INSAP de Rabat et l’Université de Sienne dans la ville de Thamusida (Maroc) ont apporté un éclairage nouveau sur l’étude des grands et petits entrepôts. Cet article analyse le cas du bâtiment quadrangulaire avec contreforts de la ville de Banasa, un exemple d’entrepôt bâti pour répondre aux besoins de la micro-économie urbaine. L’étude a permis d’analyser le contexte territorial dans la période comprise entre la fin du ier s. apr. J.-C. et la seconde moitié du iie s. apr. J.-C., lorsque, avec la construction du grand horreum de Thamusida, le blé du territoire de Banasa s’est inséré dans un contexte de production céréalière à l’échelle extraterritoriale.

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Texte intégral

1. Settlement characteristics

1Iulia Valentia Banasa, a city in the province of Mauretania Tingitana (north-west of Morocco), was founded on the left bank of the river Sebou, along the road between Tingi and Sala, in the central area of the Gharb plain (fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Cities in the province of Mauretania Tingitana

Fig. 1: Cities in the province of Mauretania Tingitana

(from Thamusida 1 2008, p. XVI, fig. 13)

  • 1 Euzennat, Marion 1982, p. 69.

2The city was one of the colonies created by Octavian between 33 and 25 BC, in the period between the donation of the realm of Bocchus II to Rome and the advent on the throne of Juba II. In 1871, thanks to an epigraphic find, C. Tissot was able to recognise the city, previously known only from literary sources, in the ruins found in the locality Sidi Ali Bou Djenoun1.

  • 2 R. Thouvenot and A. Luquet published the data regarding the uncovered ruins in various articles pr (...)
  • 3 Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, p. 148-149.
  • 4 Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, p. 149-153.
  • 5 According to the analysis by S. Girard (1984, p. 84-93) of the excavated stratigraphy in some tren (...)
  • 6 Lenoir 1996, p. 1067-1072.

3During the French protectorate, the ancient colony was subjected to excavation work led by R. Thouvenot, head of the Service des Antiquités du Maroc and attended by A. Luquet, curator of the site until 1957. A. Luquet carried out the first surveys of the buildings2. The research continued under the direction of M. Euzennat, who between 1955 and 1956 directed some of the investigative excavations in the southern district and the north, secondary, cardo. In that area several ceramic kilns of the pre-Roman period were discovered. These date to the 5th-4th century B.C. Recent missions, directed by Franco-Moroccan teams, conducted studies of the baths3 and a pre-Roman settlement4 in the southern area. The city was built on two artificial hills separated by a central valley where the forum was located, with a loosely orthgonal urban system of irregular parallel streets5. A city wall ran all round the settlement, positioned at a lower level compared to the internal buildings. The visible area covers around 4 hectares and geophysical prospection on the site has shown the area inside the walls to be a little more than double that size6.

  • 7 Euzennat 1989, p. 61-62. The presence of a castrum to the west of the city near the river was hypo (...)

4In Roman times, the city represented an important strategic and defensive centre with auxiliary troops. Although epigraphic documentation shows that troops were indeed present until the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. no certain trace of any castra has been found7.

  • 8 J.-Ch. Balty (1983, p. 127-129) considers the building to be the curia of the city, based on its l (...)
  • 9 Boube 1967, p. 276-283, p. 340-352; Brouquier-Reddé, El Khayari, Ichkhakh 2004; Euzennat, Hallier (...)
  • 10 Thouvenot 1941, p. 29-31.

5Using the road axes as references points, the settlement can be divided into 8 sections (fig. 2): the forum (1) is positioned at the centre of the settlement, at the crossroads between the cardo and the decumanus, with the basilica, the curia8 and the Capitolium9. The second district runs from the forum to the decumanus and contains mainly commercial buildings. District 3 lies to the south of the obliquely aligned decumanus and contains further commercial buildings, dwellings and baths10.

Fig. 2: Map of Banasa with the numbered districts

Fig. 2: Map of Banasa with the numbered districts

The quadrangular building is shown in black.

(from Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, fig. 1)

  • 11 See : Maison du Diplôme de Domitien (Thouvenot 1954d, p. 40-45; Euzennat 1989, p. 65); Maison à la (...)
  • 12 Euzennat 1991, p. 1326.

6District 4 is characterised by distinctive houses on two floors11. District 5 contains only one excavated building of a commercial nature, the macellum12.

  • 13 See Maison de Fonteius (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951c, p. 82-84); Maison aux quatres piliers (Thouvenot, (...)
  • 14 See Maison du génie de l’abondance (Thouvenot 1941, p. 23-27).
  • 15 Thébert 2003, p. 255-256 ; Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a, p. 33-40.
  • 16 Thouvenot 1954c, p. 20-33.

7District 6 is located to the west and contains commercial and domestic buildings13. District 7 is on the north of the hill and here there are various blocks of buildings with elite dwellings14 and the baths15. Finally, district 8 comprises a series of long rectangular insulae on the south side of the main cardo; the buildings in this area are residential and commercial16. This article will analyse the quadrangular building to the extreme south of District 2.

2. The quadrangular building in district 2 and the new research

  • 17 Thouvenot 1946 = AE 1948, 10. 9.
  • 18 See Di Vita-Évrard 1988. For the previous bibliography see ibid., p. 287, n. 2. Giangrieco Pessi 1 (...)

8The city has yelded a large number of inscriptions which have been particularly significant in the understanding of many aspects of daily life in the province of Mauretania Tingitana. One inscription found in Banasa and dating back to A.D. 215-216 (a letter from the Emperor)17 informs the city that although neither wheat nor money had been sent to Rome for years, he had decided to cancel the debt with an act of liberality for Banasitani in exchange for men and other contributions18.

9The local community was required to recommence the payment of taxes and contributions. The reference to the city and the supplies is certain. Nonetheless within the city and near the river frontage no structures that could indeed be interpreted as warehouses have yet been identified. The area along the river cannot be easily examined given the ­considerable bild up of alluvium (fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Banasa

Fig. 3: Banasa

Build up of land due to flooding on the left back of

  • 19 Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.
  • 20 For the bibliography see Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.

10In a note in Le limes de Tingitane. La frontière méridionale, M. Euzennat gives us a brief description of a building that was unearthed in 1954 in the south-east district, suggesting a small quadrangular construction with external buttresses on three sides, each of which measuring 18 m long19. He gives no particular description of the building, but only refers to the general excavation that was undertaken in those years in the craftsman’s district in the south-east.20

11Unlike R. Thouvenot, who believed the building was contemporary with the original colony, M. Euzennat dates the structure to the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. based on the ceramic material and the Domitianic and Nervan coins found at the foundations.

12Since 2010 and thanks to the project Granaries and Warehouses in North Africa and Egypt during the Roman Age (GRAWINAE). Typology, building techniques, function, productive context21, coordinated by the author of this paper, it has been possible to study the topic of food supplies in greater depth with a focus on the archaeology of warehouses located in the wheat provinces of North Africa in the Roman period22. The in-field investigation (the documentation of the structures that are still visible and the analysis of the masonry) together with bibliographic research, have allowed us to update and reconsider the plan proposed by A. Luquet (fig. 4 and 5), confirming the identification of the building as a warehouse for foodstuffs23.

Fig. 4: Plan by A. Luquet

Fig. 4: Plan by A. Luquet

The authorisation for research in the archives of the Centre Camille Jullian, Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine (UMR6573) was given by Dominique Garcia, director of the Institute from 2008 to 2011.

(Centre Camille Jullian, Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine – UMR6573 – archives)

Fig. 5: Aerial photograph of the latest excavation showing the quadrangular building

Fig. 5: Aerial photograph of the latest excavation showing the quadrangular building

(from Luquet 1966, p. 373)

2.1 Structural analysis

13The building is approximately square, with walls surviving roughly 0.80 m tall from the foundation pit. The externally-measured surface area is 307.22 m2, while the internal floor surface area is 201.19 m2.

14In the south-west corner, there are ruins of a small internal room of 17 m2. There is no evidence of the position of the original entrance which most probably was on the southern side. There are no other visible apertures onto the internal space either.

15The 1.00-1.10 m thick walls were built on elements of different sizes in a series of distinct layers. The spaces between the stones of the wall faces are filled in with stone chips and small stones. The quoins are made up of alternating headers and stretchers.

16The in-field investigation and the architectural report, together with the research from the archives, have allowed me to reconsider the plan of the building and correct the architectural data.

  • 24 Euzennat 1989, p. 66.

17Figure 7 shows the elements of the north-west and north-east buttress pillars that were not reported by A. Luquet. They are however shown in a city plan by M. Euzennat24.

18The buttresses used to support the external walls are well anchored into the structure, on each end they can be seen as extensions of the orthogonal walls (fig. 8).

19The building technique seems to be the oldest of all the buildings included in the original form of the urban network and the orthogonal road plan dating back to the colonial founding.

  • 25 Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.
  • 26 Brouquier-Reddé, El Khayari, Ichkhakh 2004, p. 1891-1898.

20However, based on the information and dating provided by M. Euzennat25, it can be hypothesised that the same construction method was still being used during the reorganisation of the monumental centre, between the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century A.D.26.

21Later (3rd century A.D.) the whole area was levelled. The building was flattened and its walls were used as foundations for two more constructions to the west and the south-east (see fig. 4, plan by A. Luquet). The area was filled with earth in order to raise the floor level as can be seen from the higher entrance to the new building directly positioned on top of the west perimeter wall (fig. 9).

22The excavations in 1954 unearthed some of the plan at a foundation level. Only the perimeter walls were discussed in detail in the report, while the floor level was not (see fig. 4).

23Recent investigation has led to the analysis of certain areas that were still hidden and comparing this with the plan by A. Luquet, the re-elaboration of the plan and the structures that are no longer visible has been possible. The small quadrangular room, in the south-west corner of the building, still has visible traces of its foundation along the southern internal wall. A protrusion of about 0.10 m shows the floor level that is no longer present (fig. 10).

  • 27 Papi, Martorella 2007a.

24From the analysis of the internal and external walls, no traces of any kind of insulation were found, nor were there remnants of an internal flooring in the central room or traces of a floor level on the walls. It can be assumed that only the small room to the south-west had a real floor at a height of 0.40 cm. The internal floor must have been made of wood and raised. The limited height of the perimeter walls means that there is no evidence of holes for beams, nor are there signs of partition walls like those in the warehouses in the neighbouring Roman city to the south-west Thamusida27.

25Inside the building there is a series of more or less regular parallelepiped limestone blocks brought to light by the excavators of the time, but not documented because they were probably considered to be in a non-original position (fig. 11).

  • 28 See Aberkan 1989.

26The parallelepiped sandstone28 vary slightly in size (block A: 0.80×0.40×0.60 m; B: 0.90×0.40×0.60 m; C: 0.75×0.47×0.68 m; D: not identified) and are visible in the aerial photograph taken of the latest excavations (see fig. 5).

Fig. 6: Warehouse, seen from the north

Fig. 6: Warehouse, seen from the north

The dotted line indicates the north-east and north-west sides.

(photo F. Martorella)

Fig. 7: Plan of the warehous

Fig. 7: Plan of the warehous

(drawing F. Martorella)

Fig. 8: Buttresses

Fig. 8: Buttresses

(drawing F. Martorella)

Fig. 9: Internal view of the west perimeter wall (in grey) on top of the wall built previously (in black)

Fig. 9: Internal view of the west perimeter wall (in grey) on top of the wall built previously (in black)

(drawing F. Martorella)

Fig. 10: Small room to the south-west showing where the floor level was positioned

Fig. 10: Small room to the south-west showing where the floor level was positioned

(photo F. Martorella)

Fig. 11: Stone blocks (A-D) supporting a raised floor

Fig. 11: Stone blocks (A-D) supporting a raised floor

(photo F. Martorella)

  • 29 Rickman 1971, p. 213-250; Gentry 1976, p. 10.

27The most likely hypothesis is that the blocks are the surviving traces of a set of stone bases that supported a wooden floor. The blocks would have been positioned in a regular manner throughout the internal surface area and will have supported joists and planking above floor. The flooring in the Banasa warehouse must have been built therefore with raised wooden planks in order to guarantee the best conditions for aeration (fig. 13). This is a system commonly seen in military granaries in the provinces29.

  • 30 Rickman 1971, p. 223, fig. 41; Gentry 1976, p. 82 and fig. 11.
  • 31 Rickman 1971, p. 222, fig. 40; Gentry 1976, p. 92 and fig. 14.
  • 32 Rickman 1971, p. 241-243, fig. 52 e 59.

28External buttresses and stone bases with the same supporting function have been found in granaries of the Hadrianic period belonging to the Roman forts of Vercouicum (modern day Housesteads)30 and Arbeia (modern day South Shields)31. Other examples include some granaries in Germany32.

29The architectural characteristics of the building together with the general design therefore are similar to those found in military camps in Britannia. However, this type of raised floors was not exclusively a prerogative of the castra of the north-west provinces.

30The Banasa example, in a veteran colony, has its nearest parallel in North Africa, more precisely in an as of yet unpublished warehouse of the colony Vlpia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, the city founded in A.D. 100 by Trajan on the northern slopes of the Aurès (modern day Algeria) (fig. 12).

Fig. 12: Warehouse with stone blocks supporting a wooden floor, visible from the outside (west side) of the Vlpia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi colony

Fig. 12: Warehouse with stone blocks supporting a wooden floor, visible from the outside (west side) of the Vlpia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi colony

The warehouse was identified by the author of this paper in 2016 when recording architectural data of the two warehouses in Thamugadi. The expedition, coordinated by the author, came about thanks to the collaboration between the École française de Rome (Catherine Virlouvet) and the Université de Batna 1 (Fatima-Zohra Bahloul). Regarding some warehouses in the roman city of Thamugadi, see Martorella, Zohra Bahloul 2020, p. 1-34.

(photo F. Martorella)

Fig. 13: Reconstructive and axonometric hypothesis of the floor levels of the Banasa warehouse on the basis of architectural survey data

Fig. 13: Reconstructive and axonometric hypothesis of the floor levels of the Banasa warehouse on the basis of architectural survey data

On the left, you can see the floor of the small quadrangular environment to the south west; in the centre stone blocks to support the wooden plank

(drawing F. Martorella)

31The structural analysis together with the possibility of calculating the entire usable surface area allows and suggests how the internal environment was structured.

32In order to guarantee the highest level of insulation and to keep away damp, the pillars were positioned at regular intervals in what could be called a chess-board pattern, at a height of about 1 m were designed to hold a number of beams that would have supported the wooden floorboards (fig. 14).

Fig. 14: 3D reconstruction of the internal space (stone blocks, beams and transparent wooden plank flooring)

Fig. 14: 3D reconstruction of the internal space (stone blocks, beams and transparent wooden plank flooring)

(F. Martorella)

  • 33 In the port granary of Thamusida, on top of the internal foundations of the south perimeter wall, (...)
  • 34 In Thamusida, given the space that needed to be covered and the limited length of the wooden beams (...)
  • 35 LSD is a modern system used to calculate the technical norms relative to general criteria used in (...)

33At Thamusida, traces of quercus suber have confirmed the suspicion that the wooden beams had been sourced from the nearby forest of Mamora, further supporting the idea that there was a mezzanine level entirely built of oak given that the material was so readily available. This would also have applied for the warehouse of Banasa33. Subsequent to this interpretation and using the hypothesis that quadrangular beams (0.20×0.20 m) with a maximum length of around 6 m were used, I have been able to reconstruct the internal flooring34. Through a possible calculation of the limit state design (LSD)35 I have been able to calculate maximum load that the wooden floor would have been able to carry.

  • 36 Rebuffat 2010.
  • 37 As for example in Thamusida, Papi, Martorella 2007a.

34The length of the beams would have been conditioned by the trees available36 and in particular the space between the supporting blocks would have been at a distance of 1.78 m, given their position. The reconstruction has allowed us to evaluate the measurements of the structure (0.20×0.20×5.94 m beams; flooring with 0.05×0.20×1.78 m planks) as well as the load (both permanent and occasional), which has meant we could test the LSD and the resistance. The permanent load is due to the beams (0.20×0.20 m) and the weight of the planks37 (fig. 15).

Fig. 15: In red, wooden beams (20×20 cm) in oak with an interaxel spacing of 1.78 m and an effective span of 5.94 m

Image Image1

(drawing F. Martorella)

35The occasional weight taken into consideration was that of stored grain in loose piles (exerting a greater stress) with a specific weight of 842 kg/m3 distributed in various ways (from 5.068 kg to 30 kg) along a beam length of 5.94 m (fig. 16).

Fig. 16: Distribution diagram of the load (permanent and occasional) along the wooden beam measuring 5,94 m

Fig. 16: Distribution diagram of the load (permanent and occasional) along the wooden beam measuring 5,94 m

(drawing F. Martorella)

2.2 Storing systems

  • 38 Rickman 1971, p. 85.

36Once the load capacity had been calculated, the internal usable surface area was considered and evaluated, as well as the access points and the storage activities, the supporting capacity of the flooring and the weight of the wooden pillars supporting the roof. The estimates also consider the three alternative systems of grain storage: firstly wooden chests, secondly loose piles on the flooring and against the walls, and thirdly using sacks.38

37Using wooden chests would surely have guaranteed a better management of the foodstuffs. If we consider chests of at least 1 m in height and 1.5 m wide when full, we can estimate a total average volume between 59.05 m3 and 88.60 m3, with a variable capacity between 49.72 tonnes (1 m chests) and 74.60 tonnes (1.5 m chests). These purely hypothetical measurements are consistent with wooden containers of variable heights (between 1 and 1.5 m) that were still in use until the mid 1980s in the Mediterranean area (fig. 17).

Fig. 17: Wooden grain bin (1×1×2,5 m)

Fig. 17: Wooden grain bin (1×1×2,5 m)

(photo F. Martorella)

  • 39 If we consider the total space available, the whole building could have contained up to a maximum (...)

38My calculations have shown that piles of grain could easily have been deposited along the internal walls taking up a surface area of 164 m2. The flooring would have been able to support up to 340.26 m3 of grain (286.49 tonnes)39. However, the estimation does not include the weight of the wooden pillars positioned centrally supporting the roof that would surely have limited the storage area available as no weight could have been exerted to the side of these pillars. The area available for storage would therefore have been almost halved (fig. 18).

Fig. 18: Surface area available for piles of wheat avoiding the roof pillars

Fig. 18: Surface area available for piles of wheat avoiding the roof pillars

In grey, the maximum total surface area that the flooring could support (safe load).

(drawing F. Martorella)

39Given this limitation, the storage area can be calculated at 98.80 m2 with the wheat piled up against the west, north and east walls. The maximum height of the piles of wheat that could be stored against the west and east walls would have been 2.45 m and 228 m respectively. The north wall however had a more limited area available with the pillars measuring 2.80 m, which meant that the wheat could have been piled against this wall up to a maximum width of 1.75 m and maximum height of 1.22 m. The total average volume therefore would have been considerably reduced to 101.86 m3, or 85 tonnes. Compared with the loose piles on the floor, the use of sacks would have reduced the load capacity when we consider the necessary gap between the perimeter walls and the sacks, the apparent specific weight, and the difficulties involved in storing and checking the foodstuffs.

40If we suppose that there would have been a gap of 80 cm between the sacks and the perimeter walls, and between the sacks and the central pillars, the possible surface area available would be 202 m2. Assuming an average height of the piles to be between 1m and 1.5 m, the maximum volume would have been between 80.97 m3 and 121.46 m3. Given that the apparent specific weight measured 15% and needs to be taken away from the weight of the wheat in kg/m3, the maximum variable capacity can be estimated between 59.28 tonnes (in piles 1 m high) and 88.92 tonnes (in piles 1.5 m high). These load calculations show that the floor would have been able to support piles of sacks stacked over 3 m high. The structural analysis together with the climatic aspects of the area in question should guarantee the correct preservation of the foodstuffs in a solid, well built and hydrothermally safe environment.

3. The productive context of Banasa

  • 40 Akerraz, Brouquier-Reddé, Lenoir 1995, p. 235-256; Akerraz, Rebuffat 2005, p. 243-244; Rebuffat 19 (...)
  • 41 Rebuffat 1986, p. 643-644.
  • 42 Euzennat 1981, p. 377-378 ; 1989, p. 98-99.

41In ancient times the navigable river, a barrier neither feared nor considered impassable, was a determining factor in agricultural and economic development for the cities that sprang up and developed along its banks. Recent studies attest that the commercial interest gave the river an exceptional strategic importance40. The foundation of the Iulia Valentia Banasa colony was not to be strictly connected to the creation of a defensive system on the river but rather to a reclassement of veterans and a desire for economic development in the region41. M. Euzennat assigned an area of about 5.000 ha to the territory of the colony42 (fig. 19).

Fig. 19: Banasa territory

Fig. 19: Banasa territory

(drawing F. Martorella)

42The discovery of the several sites within c.20 km of the city, according to the data that was taken from the exploration of the Sebou basin, shows the occupation and frequent use of the flood plains in the area between the left bank of the river and the northern boundary of the merjas, or marshes.

  • 43 Akerraz, Brouquier-Reddé, Lenoir 1995, p. 254-255.

43The assumed southern border would have run from the sites of Sidi Mhammed ben Ahmed 14.5 km to the south-west, Sidi Mokhfi-Gadadra 10.9 km to the south, to the site of Sidi L’arbi bou Jem’a or even further east to the site Souq Jem’a el Haouafat. A further extension to the north until Sidi Ahmed bou Khobbiz towards Souq el Arba up until the river Mda cannot be excluded either (see fig. 19)43. The ruins of the farmers’ dwelling that would have characterised the territory are no longer visible since they have been covered by alluvia.

  • 44 Arnoldus Huizenveld 2008.
  • 45 FAO 1973, p. 193.

44The palaeoenvironmental conditions of the city and the territory were probably not dissimilar to those around the city of Thamusida44, with marshes (merjas) and differences that attest to slight climatic and hygrothermal variations. Agricultural activity is concentrated also in this case on blackish clay soils (Tirs). The possibility of growing wheat and other cereals without irrigation depends on the depth of the water table (1-5 m) and its low salt content (fig. 20). We know that wheat can tolerate a soil salinity of up to 9 grams of sodium chloride per litre; if greater, the harvest would decrease considerably.45

Fig. 20: Banasa territory, water table and salinity

Fig. 20: Banasa territory, water table and salinity

(from Atlas 1970, 30)

45On the basis of the soil characteristics, the yield of the soils in the area in question have been estimated. The soils of the plain give a medium-high evaluation for the production of cereals and can be classified as follows:

46blackish clay soils of the fluvial plain (Tirs), deep with flat morphology (Hypocalcic Vertisols) and high evaluation for the production of wheat;

47loamy fluvial and grey loamy-clay soil (Dhess), deep, with flat morphology (Calcaric Cambisols) and high evaluation for the production of wheat;

48sandy fluvial soils, deep, with flat morphology (Calcaric Arenosols) and medium wheat production.

49The soils with a high potential for the production of cereals are presented with fine, deep or limited depth texture with low risk of water stress.

50The soils with an average potential for the production of cereals present a medium or coarse texture with moderate risk of water stress.

51Figure 21 shows an area of 3531.98 km2, within which the area of the Banasa territory (477.06 km2) was delimited on the basis of the indications provided by the surveys.

Fig. 21: Gharb plain and estimated boundaries of the Banasa territory

Fig. 21: Gharb plain and estimated boundaries of the Banasa territory

(drawing F. Martorella)

52The land has been divided into seven categories:

531) Banasa territory;

542) soils suitable for cultivation: good quality soil for the wheat, maximum production and low risk that the crops are compromised (Tirs, water table between 1 and 5 meters deep, presence of NaCl less than 2 gr / l);  

553) suitable soils with limitations: medium-quality soil for cereals, low production and high risk that the crops are compromised (Tirs, water table between 1 and 5 m deep, presence of NaCl of 2-6 g / l);

564) soils not suitable for cultivation;

  • 46 Célérier 1922, p. 109-138, 209-239.

575) marshes (merjas), difficult to evaluate46;

586) land occupied by the modern centre of Kenitra;

597) ideal square of 1.03 km per side (1.07 km2) graphically represents the necessary surface area needed to product the amount of foodstuffs that could be stored in the Banasa warehouse.

60The analysis and the comparison of traditional cultivation systems of cereals can still provide interesting evidence for the study of ancient food production and yield.

  • 47 Forni 2002, p. 445.

61The varieties of soft and hard grain seed sown at the time of the protectorate attest to yields varying between 500 and 800 kg, which, as has already been pointed out, is close to the broad band of intermediate productivity (6-7 times the volume of seed) which is between the good averages reported by Varro and the very low averages of Columella47.

62Within the Banasa territory, we can consider 257.79 km2 of Tirs and Dhess soil suitable for cultivation, adding to a surface area of 102.24 km2 of soil with limitations, and making the total potential surface area as much as 360.03 km2. The soil that is not suitable for grain cultivation, making up 89.16 km2, has been subtracted from this total.

63If we consider the productivity of the lands cultivated by the local population with an average minimum yield of 6-8 q / ha, the 36.000 ha of land with medium and high agricultural potential would guarantee a yield of between 21.600.000 and 28.800.000 kg.

64Considering the maximum quantity of grain that could be stored in the granary according to the technical characteristics (85,700 kg) and supposing a minimum yield of (21,600,000 kg), the quantity that could be stored inside makes up only 1/252 of the whole harvest. Given a maximum yield (28.800.000 kg) and the maximum load that the floor could have supported (286.000 kg), 100 granaries like our case study example would have been necessary to house the entire production. If we suppose there were a bi-annual crop rotation, leaving the land for pasture or for growing vegetables, there would have been an advantage/disadvantage in that the yield would double.

65An ideal square of 1.03 km per side (1.07 km2) graphically represents the necessary surface area needed to product the amount of foodstuffs that could be stored in the Banasa warehouse.

Conclusions

  • 48 Martorella, Zohra Bahloul 2020; Hamrouni, Aloui 2019; Ghalia, Villedieu 2018 ; Salido Domínguez 20 (...)

66Only a few traces of warehouses have been identified so far in the North African provinces in contrast with the known cereal production recorded in literary sources48.

  • 49 AE 1957; M. Euzennat (1957, p. 73-79) thinks of [horrea arma]­mentaria rather than [horrea fru]men (...)

67Archaeological remains of store houses or warehouses in the Mauretaniae are rare, extended only in part by epigraphic and literary sources. In Caesariensis, the warehouse, which is no longer visible, located at the port Iomnium (Tigzirt) and commissioned by Antoninus Pius and built with the man power from a military base (around 800 m2), could have been used as an armoury and supply store for the army49.

  • 50 Laporte 1989, p. 92-94.

68At Rapidum (Sour Djouab) the warehouse in the fort of the cohors secunda Sardorum, was built around 122 A.D. The building (14.20 m by 0.80 m), which was discovered in 1929 by Seguy-Villevaleix, was built with walls that were 0.80/0.90 m thick and inside there were three dividing walls to a hypothetical raised flooring50.

  • 51 CIL VIII, 9669.
  • 52 CIL VIII, 8836; Di Vita-Évrard 1992, p. 848.
  • 53 Cagnat 1912-1913, p. 315.
  • 54 CIL VIII, 8480.
  • 55 Rickman 1971, p. 321.
  • 56 The port of Saldae exported products from the Tubusuctu territory and cereals from the Sitifis reg (...)
  • 57 CIL VIII, 8425 and 8426; ILS 5964.
  • 58 Mohamedi et alii 1991, p. 270.

69Inscriptions record the existence of horrea that are not better defined at Cartennae (Ténès) in Sitifensis51 and the military warehouses of Tubusuctu built between 1st May 305 and 25th July 30652. From the Peutingerian Map we learn of the toponym Muslubium (Muslubion orea) between Choba and Bougie53. In Sitifis (Sétif) the grain store and the public bakeries rebuilt at the end of the 4th century A.D., were used locally54, while the toponym Horrea55 recorded between Sitifis and Saldae relates to a territory that had a high cereal production for sustenance and the regional market as well as the economy of the imperial dominia56. The cereal paid as a kind of rent was collected by the imperial ­administration where it was harvested as in the case of Caput Saltus Horreorum57, north-east of Sitifis, before being transported to the nearest ports and sold58. The cereal-producing regions of Mauretaniae and the ports should therefore have been characterised by a rich chain of warehouses for harvesting and distributing.

  • 59 Thouvenot 1946, p. 556-557; Rebuffat 2002.

70Under the Roman occupation Mauretania Tingitana carried out payments in wheat. The inscription dating to A.D. 216 regarding the amnesty of back taxes (wheat and money), was an invitation to the people and of the provinces of Mauretania Tingitana to resume the cycle of ordinary contributions, while, at the same time, providing an extraordinary supply of animals59.

  • 60 Di Vita-Évrard 1988, p. 296.

71After having analysed the financial and fiscal reports of the province and perhaps of the provinces nearby, the central authority announced a fiscal amnesty on arrears of tax60.

  • 61 Thouvenot 1946, p. 548-558.

72A copy of that edict was found in Banasa in the northern district61 and from the point of view of the Empire’s fiscal history, it represents evidence of the role that was assumed by the Tingitana as a supplier of goods. From this it can also be determined that such productivity was irregular.

  • 62 Papi, Martorella 2007a. See also Rebuffat 2010, p. 278.

73Apart the great horreum of Thamusida62, dated to the second half of the 2nd century A.D. and situated on the left bank of the river Sebou, along the amnis Sububus magnificus et nauigabilis (Plin., nat., 5, 5), no other buildings that can be interpreted as warehouses have yet been identified; it has been noted that the considerable increase in land level makes the area along the river rather unclear.

74In the city of Banasa we can now add the quadrangular building with buttresses, dated between the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century A.D.

  • 63 Alaioud 2004, p. 1900. Regarding the presence of millstones and boulangeries, mainly located in th (...)

75However, the dimensions of the building are not large (201.19 m2 floor space). The limited capacity for storage (around 290 tons) and its location in the southern district, near the Gharb plane, seem to confirm its use as a harvest and distribution store in an urban and micro-economical context. The building would have been used for the continued domestic production characterised by small mills63.

  • 64 Gozalbes 1998, p. 355.
  • 65 Gozalbes 2000, p. 564.

76It was only from the second half of the 2nd century A.D. with the building of the great horreum of Thamusida, that the cultivated grain in the fields and in the areas around the city together with that produced by neighbouring villages or cities like Banasa, began to be included in an extra-territorial context. To the south of the middle section of the river Sebou, the Banasitan territory would have been characterised by a consistent production of cereal alongside irrigated crops64. The water of the river Sebou allowed the ships of a medium capacity to reach the port of Thamusida, while only small boats would have been able to reach the city of Banasa65. By using the favourable current of the river Sebou, it can be hypothesised that the grain of Gharb would have arrived at the port of Thamusida on small boats and, after being examined, in the great port horreum waiting for the naues granariae.

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Notes

1 Euzennat, Marion 1982, p. 69.

2 R. Thouvenot and A. Luquet published the data regarding the uncovered ruins in various articles printed in Publications du Service des Antiquités du Maroc: Thouvenot 1954 a-e; Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a-c and in a monograph: Thouvenot 1941. Regarding the bibliography of the first research activities see Euzennat 1991.

3 Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, p. 148-149.

4 Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, p. 149-153.

5 According to the analysis by S. Girard (1984, p. 84-93) of the excavated stratigraphy in some trenches around the settlement of the first levels of occupation were all at the same height. The creation of two higher points therefore was due to later building from at least the 2nd century B.C.

6 Lenoir 1996, p. 1067-1072.

7 Euzennat 1989, p. 61-62. The presence of a castrum to the west of the city near the river was hypothesised by A. Luquet on the basis of an aerial photo from 1942. See Jodin 1974, p. 38-40.

8 J.-Ch. Balty (1983, p. 127-129) considers the building to be the curia of the city, based on its location and the discovery only a few metres away to the south east, of one of the thermal baths of Tabula Banasitana (IAM 2, 94). Imperial edicts had to be presented in a curia.

9 Boube 1967, p. 276-283, p. 340-352; Brouquier-Reddé, El Khayari, Ichkhakh 2004; Euzennat, Hallier 1986, p. 78-82; Thouvenot 1941, p. 7-13; 1954b.

10 Thouvenot 1941, p. 29-31.

11 See : Maison du Diplôme de Domitien (Thouvenot 1954d, p. 40-45; Euzennat 1989, p. 65); Maison à la mosaïque de Vénus (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951b, p. 65-71); Thermes aux fresques (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a, p. 21-32; Arharbi et alii 2001, p. 148-149); Grands thermes Ouest (Thébert 2003, p. 257; Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a, p. 10-21);

12 Euzennat 1991, p. 1326.

13 See Maison de Fonteius (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951c, p. 82-84); Maison aux quatres piliers (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951c, p. 84-86); Maison du Macellum (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951c, p. 86-99); Petits thermes Ouest (Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a, p. 40-49).

14 See Maison du génie de l’abondance (Thouvenot 1941, p. 23-27).

15 Thébert 2003, p. 255-256 ; Thouvenot, Luquet 1951a, p. 33-40.

16 Thouvenot 1954c, p. 20-33.

17 Thouvenot 1946 = AE 1948, 10. 9.

18 See Di Vita-Évrard 1988. For the previous bibliography see ibid., p. 287, n. 2. Giangrieco Pessi 1988, p. 119 where reference is made to the attempts of Caracalla to stem a looming crisis and to follow a plan that recalculated that of his father Septimius Severus. Regarding the economy of the city of Banasa in the provincial age, see Alaioud 2004; 2010. Regarding Mauretania Tingitana and the aspects concerning the export of wheat see Papi 2017; Papi, Martorella 2007a. Regarding the typology of the horrea in North Africa see Virlouvet 2009. Regarding the horrea of ​​Numidia see Papi, Martorella 2007b.

19 Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.

20 For the bibliography see Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.

21 http://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/143795_en.html

22 Catherine Virlouvet supervised the research project at the Université de Provence, and in particular within the Centre Camille Jullian (CCJ), Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine (UMR6573) – Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, Aix-en-Provence. The bibliographic research took place in the archives of the CCJ and the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP, Rabat, Morocco), where the reports from the studies carried out in the investigation sites in question are kept. The interest in the quadrangular building at Iulia Valentia Banasa, which was identified by the author of this paper as a warehouse in 2006, runs parallel to the research promoted by the University of Siena (coordinator Prof. E. Papi) and the INSAP (coordinator Prof. A. Akerraz) on the site of the ancient city Thamusida. E. Papi contributed suggestions, technical and logistical support regarding the data taken from Banasa. The authorisation to research and collect data was made possible thanks to the former director of INSAP, Aomar Akerraz.

23 The map of the buildings by A. Luquet was found in 2012 by the author in the archives of the Centre Camille Jullian.

24 Euzennat 1989, p. 66.

25 Euzennat 1989, p. 66, n. 113.

26 Brouquier-Reddé, El Khayari, Ichkhakh 2004, p. 1891-1898.

27 Papi, Martorella 2007a.

28 See Aberkan 1989.

29 Rickman 1971, p. 213-250; Gentry 1976, p. 10.

30 Rickman 1971, p. 223, fig. 41; Gentry 1976, p. 82 and fig. 11.

31 Rickman 1971, p. 222, fig. 40; Gentry 1976, p. 92 and fig. 14.

32 Rickman 1971, p. 241-243, fig. 52 e 59.

33 In the port granary of Thamusida, on top of the internal foundations of the south perimeter wall, traces of carbonised wooden beams were found (quercus suber) which were 0.20 m wide and positioned so as to support the raised wooden flooring. See Papi, Martorella 2007a.

34 In Thamusida, given the space that needed to be covered and the limited length of the wooden beams quercus suber, joints would have had to be used especially in the A-frames used to support the roof, as in the warehouses in Mauretania Tingitana, see Rebuffat 2010.

35 LSD is a modern system used to calculate the technical norms relative to general criteria used in order to check the safety of a building, its load and over-loading. The coefficients that are applied to the loads are defined depending on the materials used and the type of building (quercus suber wood in this case), as well as the building method (reconstructed from structural analysis here), and the use of the building (raised flooring), in order to obtain the correct level of resistance.

36 Rebuffat 2010.

37 As for example in Thamusida, Papi, Martorella 2007a.

38 Rickman 1971, p. 85.

39 If we consider the total space available, the whole building could have contained up to a maximum of 500 tonnes: Papi 2017, p. 429.

40 Akerraz, Brouquier-Reddé, Lenoir 1995, p. 235-256; Akerraz, Rebuffat 2005, p. 243-244; Rebuffat 1986.

41 Rebuffat 1986, p. 643-644.

42 Euzennat 1981, p. 377-378 ; 1989, p. 98-99.

43 Akerraz, Brouquier-Reddé, Lenoir 1995, p. 254-255.

44 Arnoldus Huizenveld 2008.

45 FAO 1973, p. 193.

46 Célérier 1922, p. 109-138, 209-239.

47 Forni 2002, p. 445.

48 Martorella, Zohra Bahloul 2020; Hamrouni, Aloui 2019; Ghalia, Villedieu 2018 ; Salido Domínguez 2011, p. 519; Rebuffat 2010, p. 266-274; Papi, Martorella 2007a; 2007b; Villaverde Vega 2001, p. 514; Laporte 1989, p. 92-94.

49 AE 1957; M. Euzennat (1957, p. 73-79) thinks of [horrea arma]­mentaria rather than [horrea fru]mentaria.

50 Laporte 1989, p. 92-94.

51 CIL VIII, 9669.

52 CIL VIII, 8836; Di Vita-Évrard 1992, p. 848.

53 Cagnat 1912-1913, p. 315.

54 CIL VIII, 8480.

55 Rickman 1971, p. 321.

56 The port of Saldae exported products from the Tubusuctu territory and cereals from the Sitifis region. See Fentress 1990, p. 118-119.

57 CIL VIII, 8425 and 8426; ILS 5964.

58 Mohamedi et alii 1991, p. 270.

59 Thouvenot 1946, p. 556-557; Rebuffat 2002.

60 Di Vita-Évrard 1988, p. 296.

61 Thouvenot 1946, p. 548-558.

62 Papi, Martorella 2007a. See also Rebuffat 2010, p. 278.

63 Alaioud 2004, p. 1900. Regarding the presence of millstones and boulangeries, mainly located in the northern district, see Alaioud 2010, p. 576-581.

64 Gozalbes 1998, p. 355.

65 Gozalbes 2000, p. 564.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: Cities in the province of Mauretania Tingitana
Crédits (from Thamusida 1 2008, p. XVI, fig. 13)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 215k
Titre Fig. 2: Map of Banasa with the numbered districts
Légende The quadrangular building is shown in black.
Crédits (from Arharbi, Kermovant, Lenoir 2001, fig. 1)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 307k
Titre Fig. 3: Banasa
Légende Build up of land due to flooding on the left back of
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 340k
Titre Fig. 4: Plan by A. Luquet
Légende The authorisation for research in the archives of the Centre Camille Jullian, Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine (UMR6573) was given by Dominique Garcia, director of the Institute from 2008 to 2011.
Crédits (Centre Camille Jullian, Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine – UMR6573 – archives)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 209k
Titre Fig. 5: Aerial photograph of the latest excavation showing the quadrangular building
Crédits (from Luquet 1966, p. 373)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 530k
Titre Fig. 6: Warehouse, seen from the north
Légende The dotted line indicates the north-east and north-west sides.
Crédits (photo F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 417k
Titre Fig. 7: Plan of the warehous
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 110k
Titre Fig. 8: Buttresses
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 93k
Titre Fig. 9: Internal view of the west perimeter wall (in grey) on top of the wall built previously (in black)
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 82k
Titre Fig. 10: Small room to the south-west showing where the floor level was positioned
Crédits (photo F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 378k
Titre Fig. 11: Stone blocks (A-D) supporting a raised floor
Crédits (photo F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 826k
Titre Fig. 12: Warehouse with stone blocks supporting a wooden floor, visible from the outside (west side) of the Vlpia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi colony
Légende The warehouse was identified by the author of this paper in 2016 when recording architectural data of the two warehouses in Thamugadi. The expedition, coordinated by the author, came about thanks to the collaboration between the École française de Rome (Catherine Virlouvet) and the Université de Batna 1 (Fatima-Zohra Bahloul). Regarding some warehouses in the roman city of Thamugadi, see Martorella, Zohra Bahloul 2020, p. 1-34.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 593k
Titre Fig. 13: Reconstructive and axonometric hypothesis of the floor levels of the Banasa warehouse on the basis of architectural survey data
Légende On the left, you can see the floor of the small quadrangular environment to the south west; in the centre stone blocks to support the wooden plank
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 79k
Titre Fig. 14: 3D reconstruction of the internal space (stone blocks, beams and transparent wooden plank flooring)
Crédits (F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 82k
Titre Fig. 16: Distribution diagram of the load (permanent and occasional) along the wooden beam measuring 5,94 m
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 57k
Titre Fig. 17: Wooden grain bin (1×1×2,5 m)
Crédits (photo F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 602k
Titre Fig. 18: Surface area available for piles of wheat avoiding the roof pillars
Légende In grey, the maximum total surface area that the flooring could support (safe load).
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 134k
Titre Fig. 19: Banasa territory
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 186k
Titre Fig. 20: Banasa territory, water table and salinity
Crédits (from Atlas 1970, 30)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 818k
Titre Fig. 21: Gharb plain and estimated boundaries of the Banasa territory
Crédits (drawing F. Martorella)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/1888/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 215k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Francesco Martorella, « An urban warehouse for foodstuffs in the Iulia Valentia Banasa colony (Mauretania Tingitana, Morocco) »Antiquités africaines, 56 | 2020, 61-77.

Référence électronique

Francesco Martorella, « An urban warehouse for foodstuffs in the Iulia Valentia Banasa colony (Mauretania Tingitana, Morocco) »Antiquités africaines [En ligne], 56 | 2020, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2020, consulté le 25 janvier 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/1888 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/antafr.1888

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Auteur

Francesco Martorella

Università degli Studi della Basilicata, DiCEM

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Droits d’auteur

Antiquités africaines

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