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Filling the gap: Mediterranean amphorae in Late antique Palmyra

Grzegorz Majcherek
p. 395-418

Résumés

Palmyre post-zénobienne, malgré la marginalisation dramatique de son rôle politique, reste un vaste centre urbain. La position périphérique de la ville, à l’écart des principales routes commerciales, ne diminue en rien son rôle d’important “lieu de consommation” dans l’Antiquité tardive. Un riche ensemble de pièces en céramique provenant des fouilles polonaises dans le quartier nord-ouest de la ville comprend, entre autres, de nombreuses amphores servant au transport du vin et de l’huile (LRA 1-7), produits dans le bassin oriental de la mer Méditerranée. Les amphores provenant de Palestine, de l’Égée et d’Égypte, qui font l’objet d’un commerce interrégional étendu, constituent la source la plus fréquemment utilisée pour l’étude des liens commerciaux. Cet article, consacré à la découverte de telles amphores à Palmyre, tente de combler l’un des plus importants points blancs figurant sur la carte de distribution de la Syrie de l’Antiquité tardive. Cette présentation, combinée à l’intégration de ces découvertes dans le contexte plus large de leur présence en Syrie, constitue également un point de départ pour définir la position de Palmyre dans le commerce méditerranéen du ve au viie siècle de notre ère.

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Introduction

  • 1 Fellman 1970; Krogulska 1996; Daszkiewicz, Krogulska & Bobryk 2000; Römer-Strehl 2013; Cerutti 201 (...)
  • 2 On the long-distance trade of Palmyra see Seland 2016 and Gawlikowski 2017, with earlier bibliogra (...)
  • 3 More on amphorae in studies of long-distance exchange: Pieri 2012.

1A ceramic backwater in terms of production and consumption—such was the perception of Palmyra emerging from archaeological publications until recently. The poorly developed local ceramic industry was limited to producing plain and cooking wares for the local market. 1 This impression was further augmented by the rarity of imported products, a surprising observation in view of the city’s role in long distance trade as a great emporium between the East and the West. 2 Ceramics played a marginal role in the city’s trade exchange, regardless of whether it was tableware or containers for goods. These two categories are the best archaeological benchmarks of the geographical range of commercial links on one hand and the quantitative aspects of the consumption of basic foodstuffs like olive oil, wine and fish products on the other. 3

  • 4 Römer-Strehl 2013.
  • 5 Michałowski 1960, p. 210, fig. 231; Sadurska 1977, p. 192-193, fig. 151; Laubenheimer & Römer-Stre (...)
  • 6 Laubenheimer 2007; Laubenheimer 2013, p. 93-94, tab. 1-2.
  • 7 Bonifay 2004, p. 107.
  • 8 Bonifay 2004, p. 89-92. Mostly of the 2nd–3rd century ad, but still produced in the 4th century ad(...)
  • 9 Similar amphorae were also produced in southern Spain. For the recent typology of Lusitanian ampho (...)
  • 10 For similar stamps from Italian sites, see Panella 1973, p. 606; CIL X 8051.10, and XV 2793; for f (...)
  • 11 Unstamped Almagro 50 amphorae are reported from Askalon: Johnson 2008, p. 160, no. 460. For Beirut (...)
  • 12 For the Baetican amphorae in the eastern Mediterranean, see Bernal Casasola 2000.

2All the main groups of Hellenistic and early Roman tableware that are common in practically all sites in the Mediterranean can be found in Palmyra, but they are never numerous. 4 The same goes for amphorae, with the few stamped amphora handles reported from Palmyra standing in stark contrast to the number of such finds from other sites in the Levant. 5 Nothing changed significantly in this respect with the advent of Roman rule. Imported amphorae of the 1st–3rd century ad, admittedly diversified in origin, have been found in small quantity in the so-called “Hellenistic” town investigated by the Syrian-German expedition . The finds are limited to a few dozen fragments at most, which can hardly be considered as evidence of regular trade contacts. Amphorae from the Aegean, Italy and Africa are clearly dominated in number by regional vessels (North Syrian and Parthian). 6 Interestingly, finds of imported amphorae from this chronological horizon, apparently residual in trenches explored by the Polish team in the Camp of Diocletian and the Northwestern District (fig. 1), demonstrated a similar frequency and a roughly similar repertoire of types. No containers from Italy were noted, but other amphorae generally from the Western Empire were present. One rim, a handle and a few body-sherds could be assigned to the Africana I “Piccolo” type of olive-oil amphora, produced in the 2nd–3rd century ad (fig. 2:1), most probably in workshops in the southern Byzacene. 7 Tripolitanian amphorae were represented by a single rim of a Tripolitanian II vessel (fig. 2:2), and a few intentionally cut walls apparently prepared for a mosaic bedding. 8 A piece of Lusitanian amphora 5-6 (Almagro 50) used for transporting garum or other fish products, 9 found in a test probe dug in sector A of the Great Colonnade, is an entirely exotic find in this context (fig. 2:3). It bore a stamp on the handle: CV[RV]CVNTIN, from a series dated to the 2nd–3rd century ad10 Lusitanian amphorae are generally rather rare in the Levant, having been identified at just a few sites.11 To complete the picture, one should add a few non-diagnostic sherds of Dr. 20 olive-oil amphorae or their smaller version Dr. 23, both originating from Baetica. 12

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Plan of the excavation area in the north-western quarter of Palmyra

Compilation based on Schnädelbach 2010, Gawlikowski 1992, Gawlikowski 1997, Gawlikowski 2003

Figure 2.

Figure 2.

Selection of 3rd and 4th-century ad amphorae: 1. Africana I; 2. Tripolitanian II; 3. Lusitanian; 4-6. Aegean Kapitän II

Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk

  • 13 See discussion in Abadie-Reynal 1989; Hayes 2001; Bonifay 2005; Bes & Poblome 2009.
  • 14 Above all that of the central Tunisian form ARS 50, attested in almost every late 3rd–early 4th ce (...)
  • 15 Kapitän 1972, p. 246, fig. 4. Presence of these amphorae in pottery assemblages is usually taken a (...)
  • 16 For the possible origin, see Majcherek 2007, p. 17.
  • 17 Dura Europos: Dyson 1968, p. 19; Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 99; Ain Sinu: Oates & Oates 1959, p. 23 (...)
  • 18 Naghawi 1989, fig. 5,1.
  • 19 For the references to Palestinian sites, cf. Blakely 1988, p. 41-42, and Rosenthal-Heginbottom 201 (...)

3Ceramic assemblages from the Eastern Mediterranean from the beginning of the 3rd to the mid-4th century ad are marked by a distinct drop in the volume of imported wares. This trend, which is noted at numerous sites and in many regions, is commonly assumed to reflect a serious political and economic crisis of the Empire in this period. The stormy events of the period, including Palmyra’s well known episode, were not favourable to maintaining a vibrant and extensive commercial network. A noticeable growth in the number of ceramic imports coincides with the overcoming of the crisis. Studies by M. Bonifay, and by P. Bes and J. Poblome have demonstrated the extraordinary expansion of African Red Slip ware (unquestionably the best chronological marker of the period) in the East starting from the 4th century ad13 Palmyra follows the same pattern. The marked and growing presence of African Red Slip ware 14 is accompanied by a gradually increasing number of foreign amphorae. Kapitän II amphorae are perhaps the first indication of change. 15 These vessels with their massive steep handles and hollow tubular base, fairly common in both the East and the West, are believed to be wine containers produced most probably in the Aegean. 16 Finds of this amphora type in Syria, Jordan and even east of the Euphrates may be rather sparse, but nothing out of the ordinary. They were found in Dura Europos, Zeugma, and Ain Sinu in northern Mesopotamia, in contexts from the early 3rd century ad, predating the Sasanian invasion. 17 A few examples come from Jerash. 18 The amphora is much more frequent on Palestinian sites. 19 However, the chronological frame for the production and distribution of Kapitän II amphorae is much too broad and not very precise. The finds from Palmyra are mostly residual, escaping thus a more precise dating; it should be assumed that they may have made their appearance even in the 3rd century ad, as at many other Near Eastern sites. A few rims of this characteristic amphora were found during the exploration of the residential quarter in Palmyra (sector N). A well-preserved upper body, base and a few body-sherds (fig. 2:4-6) come from the fill inside Basilica III.

Late antique amphorae

  • 20 Riley 1981; the only exception is LRA2, so far unreported in Palmyra. Generally on the role of Eas (...)

4Post-Zenobian Palmyra was far from its former prosperity, but it was hardly a marginal player in the economic life of Syria. Downgrading to little more than a garrison city in Diocletian’s rule was not tantamount to complete economic degradation. On the contrary, although the size of the city diminished significantly, its commercial ties with even distant regions of the Roman world were relatively dynamic and diversified as recent excavations have palpably demonstrated. The late antique period is a particularly telling one. The number of imported transport amphorae from the 6th–7th century ad was on the rise, although its frequency is still far from the standards set by other Mediterranean sites of the period. Practically all of the seven types of Eastern late Roman amphorae (LRA) classified by J. Riley and having played a key role in the Mediterranean trade, have been identified at Palmyra. 20

  • 21 Gabriel 1926, pl. XII; Schnädelbach 2010.
  • 22 Gawlikowski 1990, 1992, and 1997.
  • 23 Gawlikowski 2007, with earlier bibliography.
  • 24 See summary of excavations, Gawlikowski 2001; Majcherek 2013.

5The finds presented below come from excavations carried out by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology-University of Warsaw expedition in the north-western city district, located north of the western section of the Great Colonnade. This research, initiated in 1988 and continued intermittently until 2009, uncovered some private houses, churches and public buildings (portico, shops, etc.) [fig. 1]. The excavations have covered an extensive area of three insulae (marked ‘e’, ‘f’, and ‘g’ on Gabriel’s plan). 21 The western insula (sector E), of the most complex character, is occupied by three different structures representing civic architecture: a section of the portico and adjoining shops (area A) in a trench next to the Colonnade; a large church (Basilica I, area B) along with an attached courtyard with dependencies (area C) a little further north. 22 Sector N, to the east, includes a few large peristyle houses occupied from the 2nd to the 8th/early 9th century ad23 Three late antique basilicas (II–IV) were in turn explored in neighbouring sector G. 24

6Most of the amphora finds come from the fill of these structures dated rather summarily to the 6th through 8th centuries ad. The only significant exception is a stratified deposit explored in 1989 in the northern courtyard of Basilica I (sector E).

  • 25 Pieri 2005b, p. 586; Vokaer 2017, p. 786.

7A simple sherd count served as a base for the quantitative analysis, calculating amphora frequency by the Minimum Number of Vessels (MNV). The amphorae studied here (altogether 588 sherds, 54 MNV) make for almost 21 % of all the recorded amphorae. The majority of the identified finds (207 MNV) represented regional (mostly Central Syrian), and local production. 25 However, not all of these were commercial amphorae, some may have been used as water jars.

  • 26 For general discussion on the pottery diffusion in Syria, see Vokaer 2013.

8Even if the overall number of imported vessels is relatively modest and does not support a comprehensive appraisal of the patterns of Palmyrean trade in this period, it is most certainly an important marker of its geographical range (table and fig. 3). Despite the obvious limitations, a brief review of vessel types found in the city should put Palmyra on the distribution map of late Roman amphorae, from which it has been missing so far. 26

Table. Finds and amphorae from excavations in the northwestern part of Palmyra (sectors E, N and G)

Source area type Rims Handles Bases Sherds Total MNV
Cyprus/ Cilicia LRA 1 15 8 2 143 168 15
Western Asia Minor LRA 3 6 12 14 130 159 14
Gaza/Ascalon LRA 4 10 4 2 127 143 10
Palestine LRA 5 7 7  1 56 67 7
Egypt (Abu Mina) LRA 5/6 3 4  0 12 22 3
Egypt (Delta, Nile silt) LRA 5/6  1  0  0 3 4 1
Middle Egypt (Nile silt) LRA 7  0  0 2 17 19 2
Sinope “pâte claire”  0  0  0 3 3 1
Beirut Beirut 8 0 0 1 2 3 1
Other: regional/local/unassigned   207 194 72 2127 2601 207
Total   249 229 94 2620 3189 261

Figure 3.

Figure 3.

Relative frequency of amphorae (MNV), for all types recorded in sectors E, N and G

LRA 1

  • 27 For areas of production, see Empereur & Picon 1989; Demesticha & Michaelidis 2001; Demesticha 2003 (...)
  • 28 For a comprehensive list of LRA 1 distribution, see Keay 1984 and Pieri 2005a.
  • 29 for Qāniʾ see Salles & Sedov 2010, fig. 16/143. For a list of Indian sites Tomber 2008, p. 166, ta (...)

9The most numerous class of imported amphorae are LRA 1 vessels, produced on a large scale in production centres located primarily in Cilicia and Cyprus, but also in Rhodes, Kos and possibly also Seleucia Pieria. 27 The distribution map for this type is particularly impressive, ranging from the Black Sea littoral to the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles.28 The goods transported in these vessels reached the most distant markets, even outside the Empire. LRA 1 vessels have been identified, among others, in Qāniʾ in Southern Arabia and as far as India. 29

  • 30 Decker 2001, p. 78-80.
  • 31 Derda 1992; Fournet 2012.

10Olive oil was considered until recently the basic product transported in these vessels - an idea supported also by epigraphic evidence. 30 Apart from the typical capacity signs and religious formulae (mainly XMΓ), the tituli picti frequently found on LRA 1 amphorae include designations suggestive of olive oil as the content. 31 Fragmentary tituli of this kind, impossible to interpret though, have been recorded also on a few LRA 1 sherds from Palmyra (fig. 4:7).

Figure 4.

Figure 4.

LR 1B Cypriot/Cilician amphorae found in the horreum of the Diocletian Camp (1) and in sectors E and N (2-6, 8-9); LRA 1A fragment with titulus (7)

Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk

  • 32 Pieri 2005a, p. 83-85; Papacostas 2001; Elton 2005; Decker 2005; Iacomi 2010.
  • 33 For oil and wine production in this region, see Decker 2001, Zerbini 2013 and Van Limbergen 2015.

11Recent studies have demonstrated, however, that while the olive oil hypothesis should not be rejected offhand, it was wine that was mainly transported in these amphorae. The production areas of these vessels, especially Cilicia and Cyprus, are attested in both historical and epigraphic sources as regions specializing in wine production. 32 By the same token, the long-held and often repeated opinion that the manufacturing of these amphorae is to be connected with the well-known olive-oil manufacturing industry in the Limestone Massif in the hinterland of Antioch should be put aside. 33

  • 34 For imitations in Egypt see Ghaly 1992.
  • 35 For the morphological development, see Keay 1984; Pieri 2005a, p. 70-77; and Opait 2010.
  • 36 For the distribution in Palestine, see Tubb 1986, p. 55; Sodini & Villeneuve 1992; Pieri 2005a, p. (...)
  • 37 Ras Ibn Hani: Touma 1981, p. 224, fig. 7; Ras el-Bassit: Mills & Baudry 2010, p. 857, fig. 4a; Apa (...)
  • 38 Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 102; Dibsi Faraj: Harper 1980; Halabiye: Haidar Vela 2015, p. 187-188, a (...)
  • 39 Dehes: Orssaud 1992, p. 223, fig. B:12; Qalʿat Semʿan, Sergilla: Pieri 2005b, p. 586, fig. 7; Hawa (...)

12In Palmyra, LRA 1 is unquestionably the most common imported container. A measure of its popularity is the fact that, as in many other regions, local amphorae from this period largely imitate its shape. 34 Almost all the examples recorded in Palmyra belong to form LRA 1B (fig. 4:1-6 and 8-9), dated to the 6th–beginning of the 7th century ad, coinciding with the phase of the greatest expansion of this amphora in the Mediterranean region. 35 A few fragments belong to the older form LRA 1A (fig. 4:7). The relatively low frequency of these vessels on Syrian sites is in stark contrast to the large numbers recorded elsewhere in the Mediterranean, in Carthage, Rome, Alexandria and even the Levantine coast. 36 This is particularly surprising in view of the geographical proximity of the production centres. Amphorae of this type have been reported from sites both on the coast of Syria Prima (Ras Ibn Hani, Ras el-Bassit) and in the interior, in Syria Secunda and Syria Phoenice (Apamea, Andarin, Um el-Tlel, and the region of Homs). 37 LRA 1 have also been identified in Zeugma, Dibsi Faraj, Halabiye and Rusafa lying already in the Euphratensis38 It is notable in this context that the frequency at sites like Dehes, Qalʿat Semʿan, Sergilla and Hawarte, i.e. in the Limestone Massif itself which had been pointed out in the past as an area of production, is rather low. 39

  • 40 Pieri 2007, p. 300.
  • 41 On fabric variants, see Williams 2005.

13The substantial regression of amphora production in Cilicia, once a dominating industry in the 4th–5th centuries, is viewed as a sign of agricultural crisis in the region. It appears that Cyprus then assumed the leading role in exports to both Levantine and Western markets. Indeed, the majority of examples of these amphorae from 6th–7th century layers in Beirut came from Cypriot workshops. 40 However, macroscopic examination of the fabric is too vague to allow definite attribution of the finds from Palmyra to specific source areas. 41 It seems that most of the recorded fragments are from the Cyprus series, although Cilician amphorae are also represented.

  • 42 On pitch and resin coating, see Vogt et al. 2002, p. 71-74; Gallimore 2010, p. 177-182.
  • 43 Romanus et al. 2009; Garnier, Silvino & Bernal-Casasola 2011.

14More importantly, only a few fragments classed as LRA 1 retained pitch or resin coating on the inside body-walls. This is usually considered a way of impregnating vessels intended for transporting wine, which is the function suggested for these containers in Palmyra. 42 Worth noting in this context is that recent laboratory analyses have put into doubt the presumed direct connection between vessel impregnation and wine transport. Some of the amphorae with impregnated walls could well have been used for carrying olive oil. 43

LRA 3

  • 44 Outschar 1993.
  • 45 Pieri 2005a, p. 95-96.

15Palmyra’s commercial ties in this period extended beyond the immediate geographic neighbourhood as attested by amphorae coming from distant regions, such as the LRA 3 containers attributed to production centres in western Asia Minor (Meander Valley, region of Ephesus). 44 This exceptionally thin-walled and easily breakable form was produced in a distinctive micaceous fabric, which makes even very small body-sherds easily identifiable. All the Palmyra examples, mainly necks and bases, belong to a late, 6th-century series, distinguished by two small loop handles and a small closed conical toe (form LRA 3A2). 45 They were found in private houses as well as public buildings. An exceptionally large quantity of fragments was recorded in a ceramic deposit (context 89) explored in the northern courtyard of the 6th-century complex of Basilica I (fig. 5:1-7).

Figure 5.

Figure 5.

Amphorae from Palmyra: 1-7. LRA 3 amphorae from context no. 89; 8. Ephesus 56 amphora

Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk

  • 46 Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 53, fig. 14:10, and Konrad 2001, p. 77; Umm el-Tlel: Majcherek & Taha 2 (...)
  • 47 Vokaer 2017, p. 781-82, table 2.
  • 48 See for instance Caesarea for the earlier tubular foot version, Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 101-102. Fo (...)
  • 49 Kingsley 1999, p. 270-271, pl. B, 6-7, with extensive bibliographical references to Palestinian si (...)

16Despite the ease with which these amphorae can be recognized, they have only been recorded on a handful of Syrian sites, demonstrating their rather marginal role in the regional commercial exchange. A few sherds were discovered at Rusafa, Qusair el-Saile, Umm el-Tlel (el-Kom area) as well as in Halabiye, 46 quite unlike in Apamea where these amphorae came in as the most numerous group of finds, reaching 17.1 % of MNV, second in frequency only to the Palestinian LRA 5/6 (all fabric variants combined). 47 LRA 3 is also present at many Palestinian sites, although its frequency there is usually quite low, not exceeding 1.5-2 % of the total number of amphorae. 48 The site of Sumaqa on Mount Carmel is the sole exception with 24 vessels recorded there (MNV based on EVE calculation), making it the biggest group of imported amphorae. 49 The unexpectedly high number of fragments from Palmyra is all the more surprising. The deposit consisting of at least 14 vessels appears to be the most numerous collection attested anywhere in Syria.

  • 50 Bezeczky 2005, p. 204; Bezeczky 2013.

17Produced in the same fabric was yet another type of amphora: Ephesus 56. Although it usually accompanies LRA 3, its geographical range is more restricted. It has been attested at Carthage, Rome and some Adriatic sites. 50 Only one neck was identified in Palmyra, found in the dwelling houses in sector N (fig. 5:8).

  • 51 On distribution in the West: Reynolds 1995, p. 71-82, figs 155-160. They are particularly numerous (...)
  • 52 Abadie 1989.
  • 53 Hayes 1996, p. 159.
  • 54 Tomber 2008, p. 166, table 3.

18Despite the ambiguity of the data from the Levantine region, the goods transported in these containers were intended primarily for the Eastern Mediterranean markets. The high frequency of LRA 3 vessels on many sites in this part of the Empire is telling, although one should admit that there are several sites in the West with assemblages of almost equal size. 51 At Argos, amphorae of this kind constitute 30-50 % of all transport amphorae, 52 just like in the Red Sea harbour of Berenike, for example, where the frequency reaches 35-40 %. 53 In Palmyra, as in Berenike, this appears to reflect local consumption rather than export-intended storage. The more-than-average presence of LRA 3 in Berenike, one of the main harbours in the Indo-Roman trade, is not reflected in a larger distribution of these vessels in South Arabian and Indian sites. 54

LRA 4

  • 55 Riley 1975, p. 27-32. The production zone seems to be actually much larger than Gaza-Ascalon-Ashdo (...)
  • 56 Mayerson 1985; cf. also Pieri 2005a, p. 111-114, who lists historical sources relating to Gazan wi (...)
  • 57 Majcherek 1995, p. 169; Pieri 2005a, p. 101-109.

19John Riley argued convincingly for the origins of LRA 4 amphorae in the Gaza region already in the 1970s, based on petrographic data and historical premises. 55 Numerous ancient written sources speak of vinum Gazetum, a well-appreciated white wine produced in the region, as the prime food-products transported in these containers. 56 The dispersed manufacturing workshops of these vessels, as well as the broad timeframe for their production, from the 2nd to the 7th century ad, were responsible for considerable morphological differentiation. Four successive subtypes of the form have been distinguished based on a study of the formal evolution of the shape. All the diagnostic fragments identified in Palmyra represented the last of these four subtypes (LRA 4c), dated usually to the 6th–early 7th century ad57 Most of the recorded fragments came from Sector E. They were found in the fill of Basilica I, located in this sector, and in the northern courtyard (fig. 6:1-3). Interestingly, only two sherds were noted in the assemblages from the nearby private houses (sector N).

Figure 6.

Figure 6.

Amphorae from Palmyra: 1-3. LR 4 amphorae ; 4-7. LR 5 Palestinian amphorae; 8-9. LR 5 Mareotis/Abu Mena amphorae; 10. LR 5 Egyptian Nile-silt amphora; 11-13. LR 7 amphorae ; 14. base of Beirut 8 amphora.

Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk

  • 58 for the distribution in the West, cf. Keay 1984, p. 280-281; Reynolds 1995.
  • 59 Majcherek 1992, p. 112-115; Majcherek 2004, p. 233, fig. 3.
  • 60 Dixneuf 2005, p. 56-61, fig. 2.
  • 61 For the distribution in Palestine and Syria, cf. the list compiled by Pieri 2005a, p. 197-198; see (...)
  • 62 Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 98.
  • 63 Landgraf 1980, p. 82, fig. 26:1.
  • 64 Pieri 2007, p. 302; Reynolds 2010.

20Next to Cilician/Cyprus LRA 1, LRA 4 is unquestionably the most common type of Eastern amphora in the late antique period. Vessels were exported from Gaza practically everywhere in the Mediterranean. 58 Recorded in large numbers in many sites in the West, they were nonetheless much less common in the East. Alexandria was an exception in this respect and an absolute record-holder with LRA 4 amphorae reaching up to 70 % of all amphorae in deposits from the 6th century, even more than in Palestinian sites. 59 The frequency of these containers in Levantine sites outside of Gaza never matched that in the western provinces of the Empire. 60 LRA 4 distribution seems to have been restricted to the coastal area, clearly dropping in frequency the further north and inland. 61 At Caesarea, it was still 24 % (RHB) of all the amphora finds, 62 but at the not-so-distant Tel Keisan there were only two rims found. 63 An entirely different situation was recorded in Beirut, where the ample amphorae from Gaza yield only to LRA 1 vessels. 64

  • 65 Pella: Watson 1992, fig. 10, p. 76-77; Jerash: Uscatescu 2003, p. 547, fig. 1.
  • 66 Andarin: Knötzele 2003, pl. 8:3; Quseir al-Saile: Konrad 2001, p. 88, pl. 114.
  • 67 Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 52; Homs area: Reynolds 2014, p. 60.
  • 68 Halabiye: Haidar Vela 2015, p. 187, and Haidar Vela 2017, p. 761; Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 11.
  • 69 Apamea: Vokaer 2017, p. 782.

21A few isolated fragments are known from sites in Jordan. 65 The same goes for Syrian sites where finds of LRA 4 are extremely rare and scattered: a certain number in Andarin, a whole vessel from Quseir al-Saile. 66 Single sherds have been reported from Rusafa, and in the Homs survey. 67 The vessels are just as poorly represented on the Euphrates, with but a few sherds being identified at Halabiye and Zeugma. 68 Only in Apamea there are markedly numerous, surpassed only by LRA 1. 69 In view of this, one can assume that LRA 4 vessels, or rather the wine packed in these containers, was distributed mostly by sea; in the Syrian interior, wine from Gaza was no match for other wines imported from the Aegean (LRA 3), Cyprus/Cilicia (LRA 1) and the area of Jerusalem (LRA 5/6).

LRA 5/6

  • 70 Kingsley 1996.
  • 71 Decentralized production is best reflected by a variety of fabrics. In Tell Fara (Tubb 1986, p. 56 (...)
  • 72 Reynolds 1995, p. 72-80.

22Bag-shaped amphorae (havith) are by and large most emblematic of the Palestinian ceramic industry. 70 They were produced continuously from the 1st century bc through the 8th century ad, but despite an evolutionary change of morphological traits, such as the height of neck, rim moulding and surface treatment, they retained the traditional squat globular shape of the body with rounded bottom and two loop handles on the shoulders. The decentralized production, taking place in many small centres, was aimed principally at the needs of local markets. 71 In the Byzantine period, however, they started to partake visibly in long-distance trade with relatively high frequency evidenced at many western sites. Palestinian bag-shaped amphorae achieve a 5-7 % share of amphorae at major consumption sites like Carthage, Rome and Marseilles. 72

  • 73 Kingsley 1996; Pieri 2005a.
  • 74 Pieri 2007, p. 302.
  • 75 Similar fabric was also identified at Zeugma, see Reynolds 2013, p. 102. No examples of the “black (...)
  • 76 Jerash: Gawlikowski & Musa 1986, p.149-150, fig. 8:1; Pella: Watson 1992, p. 238-239, fig. 9.
  • 77 Bosra: Joly & Blanc 1995, fig. 8; Damascus: Treglia & Berthier 2010, p. 868; Homs area: Reynolds 2 (...)
  • 78 Apamea: Vokaer 2017, p. 782-783; Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 52, fig. 10:11; Qasr el-Ḥayr: Genequan (...)
  • 79 Several complete examples were recorded there: Reynolds 2013, p. 102, table 1.

23Late variants, identified at almost all Byzantine-period sites in Palestine, are characterized by relatively low necks and a band of fine ribbing on the shoulder. 73 They are usually reported from deposits dated to the late 6th–7th centuries ad. Almost all the fragments of these amphorae types identified in Palmyra (seven rims, four handles and fifty-six body-sherds) represent a red-grey fabric (Pieri group 3), attributed to workshops clustered around Jerusalem (fig. 6:4-7). 74 A few fragments are distinguished by a fabric that closely resembles Gaza products. 75 While fairly common on Jordanian sites, 76 these bag-shaped Palestinian amphorae are relatively rare finds in the territory of modern Syria: barely a few sherds identified at Bosra, Damascus, and in the vicinity of Homs. 77 The frequency is somewhat higher further north with fragments being noted at, among others, Apamea, Rusafa, Qasr el-Ḥayr, and Hadir (Qinnasrin). 78 The relatively profuse representation of LRA 5 in Zeugma is certainly atypical in this context. 79

  • 80 Empereur & Picon 1998; Engemann 2016, p. 111-113.
  • 81 Kingsley 2001, p. 57.

24The LRA 5/6 class is represented also by production centres other than the quantitatively superior Palestine. Bag-shaped amphorae were produced of calcareous/marly clays also in the Mareotis region, especially in Abu Mena, in Alexandria’s hinterland. The production of these globular amphorae, evidently imitating the bag-shaped type, usually set between the 6th and the mid-8th century ad80 is considered proof of the commercial success of Palestinian wines on the Egyptian market. 81 The small collection from Palmyra included only three rims and seven handles (one larger fragment) [fig. 6:8-9].

  • 82 Watson 1992, p. 240, fig. 10:82-83.
  • 83 Dixneuf 2011, p. 142-148, p. 203-204.

25Such amphorae are rather isolated finds in the Bilad al-Sham. The LRA 5/6 variant from the Abu Mena workshops was recorded in, among others, Pella. 82 It is believed that the white wine produced in the Mareotis region was packed in these containers. 83 Their meagre presence in Syria-Palestine is palpable proof of the marginal commercial role played by this wine, generally considered as being of mediocre quality.

26The repertoire of Egyptian products extends beyond amphorae produced in the vicinity of Alexandria. Bag-shaped amphorae were also produced in the typical Nile silt fabric. The volume of these small, ovoid amphorae does not exceed 6-8 l. They were made of a well-fired dark-red fabric, often with a grey reduction zone observed in the break.

27This kind of containers were produced in Egypt mainly in the 7th to 9th centuries.

  • 84 Ballet 1994.
  • 85 Their presence in the archaeological record is usually associated with the beginning of the Islami (...)
  • 86 Taxel & Fantalkin 2011, fig. 1.
  • 87 Zemer 1977, p. 73, nos. 60-62.
  • 88 Barkai, Kahanov & Avissar 2010; amphora with Arabic inscription found in the Magen Michael shipwre (...)
  • 89 Susita: Młynarczyk 2006, p. 97, 108, fig. 5:67; Khirbet el-Batiya: Abu ʿUqsa 2006, fig. 6:4.

28P. Ballet identified a workshop producing such amphorae at Kom Abou Billou in the Western Delta. 84 This red-fabric LRA 5/6 variant occurs in sizeable quantities on many sites in Palestine and modern Jordan in Byzantine–Omayyad contexts (7th–8th centuries). 85 Vessels that are obviously of Egyptian origin come from the coast (Ashdod, Dor and Caesarea) as well as from the interior (Beth Shean, Jerusalem, Jericho, Khirbet Mefjer, Pella, Nessana, Amman and Umm Walid). 86 Amphorae published by A. Zemer recovered from the sea along the Palestinian coast are undoubtedly Egyptian products, 87 and so are the amphorae lifted from the Tantura F shipwreck near Dor. 88 These amphorae apparently do not cross into Syria Phoenice on principle, whereas the northernmost sites where they have been recorded are Susita and Khirbet el-Batiya (southwest of Baniyas). 89 The distribution of these amphorae in Syria is extremely limited with only episodic finds. Palmyra is no exception, having yielded merely one rim and three body-sherds representing this variant (fig. 6:10).

  • 90 Pieri 2005a, p. 125; Gayraud 2003, p. 559, basing on finds from Fustat, believes that they were us (...)
  • 91 Ballet & Dixneuf 2004, p. 70.

29The content of these containers has been a moot point. The general assumption is that wine was transported in them, an idea supported by the frequent pitching of inside body-walls. 90 P. Ballet & D. Dixneuf pointed out possible connection between the production of these amphorae and the transport of Egyptian natron, employed primarily in glass production. 91

  • 92 More on the trade exchange between Palestine and Egypt in the late Byzantine and Omayyad periods: (...)

30The different geographical distribution of the two variants of Egyptian LRA 5/6 amphorae may indicate that the commercial exchange with Egypt took place primarily by sea through the Mediterranean ports or through Ayla/Aqaba. On the other hand, the land route from Fustat to Damascus is very likely to have been used in the early Islamic period.92

LRA 7

  • 93 Dixneuf 2011, p. 154-173.
  • 94 Ballet & Picon 1987, p. 38; Ballet, Mahmoud & Vichy 1991, p. 134-140.
  • 95 Most of the finds from Egyptian sites show the same trait: Egloff 1977, p. 112. On impregnation, s (...)

31LRA 7 amphora is another example of vessel, whose production and distribution enter deeply into the Islamic period. Manufactured from the 4th century through the Abbasid period, these vessels were undoubtedly the most common category of Egyptian ceramic industry. They share a general similarity of form and almost a uniform Nile-silt fabric. 93 The geological homogeneity of the basic ceramic material has defied closer determinations of production centres through laboratory analyses, but in return, in terms of their morphology, these containers show an incredible variety. Morphological studies combined with recent archaeological excavations and survey work have led to the identification of a number of production regions. Indeed, this differentiation of shape is a key argument in favour of a decentralized industry prevailing throughout the Nile Valley with a clear domination of Middle Egypt. 94 However, there is no way that the fragmentary finds from Palmyra can be correlated with available typologies. On a different note, traces of pitching or resin-coating of the inner body-walls noted on many of the recorded samples seem to support the premise about wine being the staple good transported in these containers. 95

  • 96 Egyptian wine transported in LRA 7 containers was not the chief import product anywhere. Carthage (...)

32LRA 7 finds outside Egypt have been recorded even in the most remote regions, but their presence there is sporadic at best, being restricted usually to singular sherds. 96

  • 97 Vokaer 2017, p. 783.
  • 98 Stacey 1988-89; Watson 1995.
  • 99 Landgraf 1980, p. 83, fig. 26; 5.
  • 100 Riley 1975, p. 33, Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 103-104, ill. 105-106. Their frequency does not exceed 0 (...)
  • 101 Parker 1998. On commercial links of Aqaba with Egypt see, Whitcomb 1989.

33The finds from Palmyra consist of just one base and a few body-sherds coming from the excavation of the northern courtyard of Basilica I (fig. 6:11-13). LRA 7 vessels are practically non-existent at Syrian sites other than Palmyra and Apamea. 97 A small number of fragments have originated from Palestinian sites, where they are usually recorded together with tableware from Egypt, especially Egyptian Red Slip A Ware (produced in Aswan) and Coptic Painted Ware. 98 A few LRA 7 sherds were identified at Tell Keisan 99 and Caesarea. 100 The position of Aqaba in this is exceptional. Sherds of Egyptian amphorae (more than 400 fragments) form the most numerous group of imported amphorae there, highlighting Aqaba’s lively trade with Egypt. 101

Beirut amphorae

  • 102 Reynolds 2000b, p. 390.

34Regarding vessels from neighbouring regions one should mention a few body-sherds and a base of Berytus 8 amphora (fig. 6:14) that is usually dated to the 6th–7th century. 102 These wine containers were generally restricted to the Phoenician coast and are only incidentally encountered outside this area.

Sinope amphorae

  • 103 Kassab-Tezgör 2010: Demirci has been identified as a place of production.

35Completing the list of late Roman interregional transport amphorae are vessels from Sinope. These were small-sized conical containers made of a characteristic light-coloured clay (“pâte claire”) with apparent volcanic inclusions. 103

  • 104 Kassab-Tezgör & Touma 2001, p. 111.
  • 105 Pieri 2007, p. 305.
  • 106 Their number in Ras Ibn Hani as well as Ras el-Bassit is trivial: Kassab-Tezgör & Touma 2001, p. 1 (...)
  • 107 Dibsi Faraj: Harper 1980, p. 340, fig. E 73. However, this amphora belongs to a red rather, than p (...)
  • 108 Vokaer 2017, p. 784-785, table 2.

36Sinopean amphorae, presumably intended as a wine container, were traded long-distance and make up a significant share of finds from late antique Syria. An exceptionally large assemblage of these amphorae was discovered at Seleucia Pieria (more than 70 examples), reflecting on the leading role of this port in the distribution of Black Sea and presumably also Aegean transport vessels in Syria. 104 Beirut, with an equally impressive share of these vessels among the amphora finds, played a similar role in all likelihood. 105 Other, smaller coastal towns demonstrate a much lesser share of these vessels. 106 Amphorae from Sinope also reached the Euphrates, at Dibsi Faraj and Zeugma, where their frequency was considerable. 107 Finds from Apamea are fewer, but they still constitute as much as 6.5 % of all the recorded amphorae. 108 Finds from Palmyra on the other hand are admittedly marginal: only three body-sherds were identified in the dwelling houses in sector N.

Conclusions

  • 109 Kennedy 1985, p. 149; cf. most recent study Intagliata 2018.
  • 110 Kowalski 1997.
  • 111 Majcherek 2005; Gawlikowski 2001.

37Palmyra’s decline long before the Islamic conquest is a commonly accepted view that is now being belied by the results of recent archaeological excavations coupled with a review of historical sources. 109 Indeed, the city may not have been an exemple of a prospering economy, but it most certainly was not one of a collapse. Urban life continued albeit in changed form. 110 The rule of Justinian even prompted development as attested by the city-walls rebuilding and many churches built in this period .111 The Zenobian episode in the town’s history and its consequences dealt a definite blow to its political ambitions, but at the same time also facilitated an economic integration with the rest of the Empire. Post-tetrarchic Palmyra ceased to be a great entrepôt between the East and the West, but was still a middle-sized provincial trade centre. Occupying an evidently smaller area, the town was not a consumption site on par with the great poleis of the diocese of Oriens, such as Antioch, Caesarea, Apamea or Beirut. Should one seek to compare it, it would be with smaller towns like Bosra, Beth-Shean, Pella and Zeugma.

38The relatively modest assemblage of ceramic finds from the 5th–7th century can hardly support an extensive discussion of trade patterns, especially as we have no idea of what was traded out of Palmyra. Still, it is possible to track basic supply networks.

  • 112 Pieri 2007.

39Palestine grew to be Palmyra’s main trading partner in the late antique period. Palestinian wine was clearly at the top of the list on the local market. The LRA 4 and LRA 5 wine amphorae form the biggest group, constituting 6.5 % of all the amphora finds. Right after them with a 6 % share of the total amphora count is the other wine amphora, LRA 1, originating either from Cyprus or Cilicia. The last of the three great wine producing regions is western Asia Minor (LRA 3, 5.5 %). Other suppliers constitute merely a backdrop: marginal position of Egypt (2.3 % of LRA 5/6 and LRA 7 combined) and Sinope, as well as Beirut, anecdotic at best. Much larger quantities of wine may have reached Palmyra from the neighbouring regions of Syria, primarily Apamea and the nearby Limestone Massif. 112 Most of the regional amphorae identified in Palmyra, which were produced in calcareous fabric, belong to the so-called Central Syrian (NSA 2) group most likely originating from this particular region.

  • 113 Haidar Vela 2017.
  • 114 Reynolds 2013.

40The profile of wine consumption emerging from this review, marked by an apparent superiority of regional and local products, is a fairly typical and economically obvious phenomenon. The dependence on products from the immediate agricultural hinterland, observed in the case of Apamea for instance, is even more evident when smaller centres are considered. At Halabiye, regional amphorae (NSA 1) occasionally reach even 99 % of all amphora finds. 113 The same goes for Zeugma, where this index amounted to 70 %. 114

  • 115 Waliszewski 2014, p. 405-416, some of them could, however, be dated to the Islamic period.

41Palmyra could never have satisfied the demand for wine from its own territory, but it certainly could supply olive oil. Even today, olive groves are part of the oasis landscape. The volume of local olive-oil production is best illustrated by numerous olive-oil presses identified in the ruins of the ancient town, most of which were most likely Byzantine. 115 In turn, there is little unambiguous evidence of olive-oil containers among the imported amphorae, although one should allow the possibility that some of the amphorae, for example the LRA 1 vessels, were used for this purpose. Amphorae used principally to carry fish products are similarly absent from the assemblage. Again, one cannot exclude that some of the vessels were occasionally used to carry salsamenta or other products, such as honey, fruit, vinegar, etc.

  • 116 On the role of the Church in the long-distance trade see Hollerich 1982; Whittaker 1983.
  • 117 Karageorgiou 2001 and 2009.
  • 118 Torbatov 1997.
  • 119 Van Alfen 1996, p. 211-212; Karageorgiou 2001; Van Doornick 2005.

42One cannot say for sure that the presence of imported amphorae in Palmyra attests to a “free market” economy carried out by negotiatores; it may well represent controlled distribution by the State or Church. 116 In late antiquity, the army also played a significant role in wine- and olive-oil distribution; this is perhaps best illustrated by the distribution of LRA 2 olive-oil amphorae in the Lower Danube area. 117 It cannot be ruled out that the distribution of LRA 1, especially the series originating from Cyprus, could also have been directly linked to the quaestura militaris established by Justinian in ad 537 to facilitate the functioning of the military annona118 Neither should the participation of the Church in wine production and trading be underestimated. The 7th-century shipwreck at Yassi Ada with its large load of amphorae, is a good example of the involvement of the Church in delivering supplies for the army. 119

43It cannot be excluded that the increased presence of some amphorae, especially LRA 1 in Palmyra, is the effect of Church activity; after all, most of the finds came from the basilica complex and accompanying household structures in sector E.

  • 120 Antioch, with its harbour in Seleucia, seems to be Palmyra’s main “window onto the world.” This no (...)
  • 121 On the Roman “global economy,” see among others Pitts 2015.

44Contrary to other cities of similar size in Syria, such as Bosra or Zeugma, where imported amphorae constituted a small percentage of all the finds, Palmyra evidently remained not only in the loop of interregional trade, but also an active player on the Mediterranean trade exchange. 120 More importantly, it was in late antiquity that Palmyra’s ultimate merging with the Roman “global economy” was completed. 121

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Notes

1 Fellman 1970; Krogulska 1996; Daszkiewicz, Krogulska & Bobryk 2000; Römer-Strehl 2013; Cerutti 2014; Intagliata 2014; Zenoni 2014. For pottery finds from the region see Majcherek & Taha 1993; Majcherek & taha 2004.

2 On the long-distance trade of Palmyra see Seland 2016 and Gawlikowski 2017, with earlier bibliography.

3 More on amphorae in studies of long-distance exchange: Pieri 2012.

4 Römer-Strehl 2013.

5 Michałowski 1960, p. 210, fig. 231; Sadurska 1977, p. 192-193, fig. 151; Laubenheimer & Römer-Strehl 2013. Cf. for instance a collection of 137 stamped handles found in a small settlement at Tel Anafa, Ariel & Finkelsztejn 1994. For the amphorae stamps distribution in the Levant in general see Finkelsztejn 1998.

6 Laubenheimer 2007; Laubenheimer 2013, p. 93-94, tab. 1-2.

7 Bonifay 2004, p. 107.

8 Bonifay 2004, p. 89-92. Mostly of the 2nd–3rd century ad, but still produced in the 4th century ad.

9 Similar amphorae were also produced in southern Spain. For the recent typology of Lusitanian amphorae, see Dias Diogo 1991, p. 179-191; generally on Lusitanian amphorae, see Vaz Pinto, de Almeida & Martin 2016; cf. also Keay 1984, type XVI, p. 149-152, and type XXII, p. 169-172, fig. 21. The latter is generally unstamped and dated to the 4th–5th c. ad.

10 For similar stamps from Italian sites, see Panella 1973, p. 606; CIL X 8051.10, and XV 2793; for finds from Britain, see Callender 1965, no. 480.

11 Unstamped Almagro 50 amphorae are reported from Askalon: Johnson 2008, p. 160, no. 460. For Beirut, see Reynolds 2000a and 2005b. For the distribution of Lusitanian amphorae in the Mediterranean, see Quaresma 2017.

12 For the Baetican amphorae in the eastern Mediterranean, see Bernal Casasola 2000.

13 See discussion in Abadie-Reynal 1989; Hayes 2001; Bonifay 2005; Bes & Poblome 2009.

14 Above all that of the central Tunisian form ARS 50, attested in almost every late 3rd–early 4th century deposits all over the Mediterranean, cf. Lund 1995 for Hama.

15 Kapitän 1972, p. 246, fig. 4. Presence of these amphorae in pottery assemblages is usually taken as an indicator of the beginning of the late Roman period: see Abadie-Reynal 1989.

16 For the possible origin, see Majcherek 2007, p. 17.

17 Dura Europos: Dyson 1968, p. 19; Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 99; Ain Sinu: Oates & Oates 1959, p. 233.

18 Naghawi 1989, fig. 5,1.

19 For the references to Palestinian sites, cf. Blakely 1988, p. 41-42, and Rosenthal-Heginbottom 2011, p. 215-216.

20 Riley 1981; the only exception is LRA2, so far unreported in Palmyra. Generally on the role of Eastern amphorae in the Mediterranean trade, see Tomber 2004.

21 Gabriel 1926, pl. XII; Schnädelbach 2010.

22 Gawlikowski 1990, 1992, and 1997.

23 Gawlikowski 2007, with earlier bibliography.

24 See summary of excavations, Gawlikowski 2001; Majcherek 2013.

25 Pieri 2005b, p. 586; Vokaer 2017, p. 786.

26 For general discussion on the pottery diffusion in Syria, see Vokaer 2013.

27 For areas of production, see Empereur & Picon 1989; Demesticha & Michaelidis 2001; Demesticha 2003; Reynolds 2005a.

28 For a comprehensive list of LRA 1 distribution, see Keay 1984 and Pieri 2005a.

29 for Qāniʾ see Salles & Sedov 2010, fig. 16/143. For a list of Indian sites Tomber 2008, p. 166, table 3.

30 Decker 2001, p. 78-80.

31 Derda 1992; Fournet 2012.

32 Pieri 2005a, p. 83-85; Papacostas 2001; Elton 2005; Decker 2005; Iacomi 2010.

33 For oil and wine production in this region, see Decker 2001, Zerbini 2013 and Van Limbergen 2015.

34 For imitations in Egypt see Ghaly 1992.

35 For the morphological development, see Keay 1984; Pieri 2005a, p. 70-77; and Opait 2010.

36 For the distribution in Palestine, see Tubb 1986, p. 55; Sodini & Villeneuve 1992; Pieri 2005a, p. 182-183.

37 Ras Ibn Hani: Touma 1981, p. 224, fig. 7; Ras el-Bassit: Mills & Baudry 2010, p. 857, fig. 4a; Apamea: Vokaer 2017, p. 781; Andarin: Mango 2002, p. 314; Umm el-Tlel: Majcherek & Taha 2004, p. 233; Homs area: Reynolds 2014, p. 59. A few sherds are reported from Bosra: Joly & Blanc 1995, fig. 4:33.

38 Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 102; Dibsi Faraj: Harper 1980; Halabiye: Haidar Vela 2015, p. 187-188, and Haidar Vela 2017, p. 761; Rusafa and surroundings: Konrad 1992, fig. 11:1.

39 Dehes: Orssaud 1992, p. 223, fig. B:12; Qalʿat Semʿan, Sergilla: Pieri 2005b, p. 586, fig. 7; Hawarte: G. Majcherek, personal observation (pottery study in preparation).

40 Pieri 2007, p. 300.

41 On fabric variants, see Williams 2005.

42 On pitch and resin coating, see Vogt et al. 2002, p. 71-74; Gallimore 2010, p. 177-182.

43 Romanus et al. 2009; Garnier, Silvino & Bernal-Casasola 2011.

44 Outschar 1993.

45 Pieri 2005a, p. 95-96.

46 Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 53, fig. 14:10, and Konrad 2001, p. 77; Umm el-Tlel: Majcherek & Taha 2004, p. 233; Halabiye: Haidar Vela 2015, p. 187, and Haidar Vela 2017, p. 761.

47 Vokaer 2017, p. 781-82, table 2.

48 See for instance Caesarea for the earlier tubular foot version, Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 101-102. For the later conical foot variety, see Johnson 1988, fig. 7-50 no. 732.

49 Kingsley 1999, p. 270-271, pl. B, 6-7, with extensive bibliographical references to Palestinian sites. Examples from Sumaqa seem to belong to earlier variant with tubular toes, though.

50 Bezeczky 2005, p. 204; Bezeczky 2013.

51 On distribution in the West: Reynolds 1995, p. 71-82, figs 155-160. They are particularly numerous in Rome. In the Schola Praeconum, in 5th–6th-centuries deposits, they amount to 20.5-29 % of all amphorae sherds, see Whitehouse et al. 1982, p. 60.

52 Abadie 1989.

53 Hayes 1996, p. 159.

54 Tomber 2008, p. 166, table 3.

55 Riley 1975, p. 27-32. The production zone seems to be actually much larger than Gaza-Ascalon-Ashdod area, and possibly even included some North Sinai (Negev) sites.

56 Mayerson 1985; cf. also Pieri 2005a, p. 111-114, who lists historical sources relating to Gazan wine. It is not to be excluded that some of these amphorae were also used for the transport of olive and sesame oils.

57 Majcherek 1995, p. 169; Pieri 2005a, p. 101-109.

58 for the distribution in the West, cf. Keay 1984, p. 280-281; Reynolds 1995.

59 Majcherek 1992, p. 112-115; Majcherek 2004, p. 233, fig. 3.

60 Dixneuf 2005, p. 56-61, fig. 2.

61 For the distribution in Palestine and Syria, cf. the list compiled by Pieri 2005a, p. 197-198; see also Uscatescu 2003, fig. 1.

62 Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 98.

63 Landgraf 1980, p. 82, fig. 26:1.

64 Pieri 2007, p. 302; Reynolds 2010.

65 Pella: Watson 1992, fig. 10, p. 76-77; Jerash: Uscatescu 2003, p. 547, fig. 1.

66 Andarin: Knötzele 2003, pl. 8:3; Quseir al-Saile: Konrad 2001, p. 88, pl. 114.

67 Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 52; Homs area: Reynolds 2014, p. 60.

68 Halabiye: Haidar Vela 2015, p. 187, and Haidar Vela 2017, p. 761; Zeugma: Reynolds 2013, p. 11.

69 Apamea: Vokaer 2017, p. 782.

70 Kingsley 1996.

71 Decentralized production is best reflected by a variety of fabrics. In Tell Fara (Tubb 1986, p. 56), as many as nine fabric-types were recorded. Pieri 2007 defined three basic fabric-types corresponding to large production zones.

72 Reynolds 1995, p. 72-80.

73 Kingsley 1996; Pieri 2005a.

74 Pieri 2007, p. 302.

75 Similar fabric was also identified at Zeugma, see Reynolds 2013, p. 102. No examples of the “black” variant, a painted amphora made most probably in Beisan (Landgraf 1980, p. 69-80), has been recorded so far in Palmyra.

76 Jerash: Gawlikowski & Musa 1986, p.149-150, fig. 8:1; Pella: Watson 1992, p. 238-239, fig. 9.

77 Bosra: Joly & Blanc 1995, fig. 8; Damascus: Treglia & Berthier 2010, p. 868; Homs area: Reynolds 2014, p. 60.

78 Apamea: Vokaer 2017, p. 782-783; Rusafa: Mackensen 1984, p. 52, fig. 10:11; Qasr el-Ḥayr: Genequand 2008; Qinnasrin: Rousset 2010, p. 847.

79 Several complete examples were recorded there: Reynolds 2013, p. 102, table 1.

80 Empereur & Picon 1998; Engemann 2016, p. 111-113.

81 Kingsley 2001, p. 57.

82 Watson 1992, p. 240, fig. 10:82-83.

83 Dixneuf 2011, p. 142-148, p. 203-204.

84 Ballet 1994.

85 Their presence in the archaeological record is usually associated with the beginning of the Islamic period, Taxel & Fantalkin 2011, p. 79-80.

86 Taxel & Fantalkin 2011, fig. 1.

87 Zemer 1977, p. 73, nos. 60-62.

88 Barkai, Kahanov & Avissar 2010; amphora with Arabic inscription found in the Magen Michael shipwreck is most probably also originating from Egypt, Cohen & Cvikel 2018, fig. 13b.

89 Susita: Młynarczyk 2006, p. 97, 108, fig. 5:67; Khirbet el-Batiya: Abu ʿUqsa 2006, fig. 6:4.

90 Pieri 2005a, p. 125; Gayraud 2003, p. 559, basing on finds from Fustat, believes that they were used for transporting fish sauce.

91 Ballet & Dixneuf 2004, p. 70.

92 More on the trade exchange between Palestine and Egypt in the late Byzantine and Omayyad periods: Walmsley 2000, p. 290-303.

93 Dixneuf 2011, p. 154-173.

94 Ballet & Picon 1987, p. 38; Ballet, Mahmoud & Vichy 1991, p. 134-140.

95 Most of the finds from Egyptian sites show the same trait: Egloff 1977, p. 112. On impregnation, see Vogt et al. 2002.

96 Egyptian wine transported in LRA 7 containers was not the chief import product anywhere. Carthage seems to be the only site where their presence is markedly high, reaching even up to 12,4 % of the finds, Reynolds 1995, p. 78-79.

97 Vokaer 2017, p. 783.

98 Stacey 1988-89; Watson 1995.

99 Landgraf 1980, p. 83, fig. 26; 5.

100 Riley 1975, p. 33, Adan-Bayewitz 1986, p. 103-104, ill. 105-106. Their frequency does not exceed 0,5 % of all amphorae finds. LRA 7 were identified in merely three Palestinian sites out of 340 studied by Kingsley & Decker 2001, p. 4. For a list of finds from Palestinian sites see Kingsley 1999, p. 169, fig. 14-16.

101 Parker 1998. On commercial links of Aqaba with Egypt see, Whitcomb 1989.

102 Reynolds 2000b, p. 390.

103 Kassab-Tezgör 2010: Demirci has been identified as a place of production.

104 Kassab-Tezgör & Touma 2001, p. 111.

105 Pieri 2007, p. 305.

106 Their number in Ras Ibn Hani as well as Ras el-Bassit is trivial: Kassab-Tezgör & Touma 2001, p. 108-111, fig. 10.

107 Dibsi Faraj: Harper 1980, p. 340, fig. E 73. However, this amphora belongs to a red rather, than pale-yellow fabric version. For Zeugma, see Reynolds 2013, p. 102.

108 Vokaer 2017, p. 784-785, table 2.

109 Kennedy 1985, p. 149; cf. most recent study Intagliata 2018.

110 Kowalski 1997.

111 Majcherek 2005; Gawlikowski 2001.

112 Pieri 2007.

113 Haidar Vela 2017.

114 Reynolds 2013.

115 Waliszewski 2014, p. 405-416, some of them could, however, be dated to the Islamic period.

116 On the role of the Church in the long-distance trade see Hollerich 1982; Whittaker 1983.

117 Karageorgiou 2001 and 2009.

118 Torbatov 1997.

119 Van Alfen 1996, p. 211-212; Karageorgiou 2001; Van Doornick 2005.

120 Antioch, with its harbour in Seleucia, seems to be Palmyra’s main “window onto the world.” This notion is supported by coins evidence. Most of the late antique coins recorded in Palmyra were minted in Antioch (56 out of 188 issues): see Krzyżanowska & Gawlikowski 2014.

121 On the Roman “global economy,” see among others Pitts 2015.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1.
Légende Plan of the excavation area in the north-western quarter of Palmyra
Crédits Compilation based on Schnädelbach 2010, Gawlikowski 1992, Gawlikowski 1997, Gawlikowski 2003
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 123k
Titre Figure 2.
Légende Selection of 3rd and 4th-century ad amphorae: 1. Africana I; 2. Tripolitanian II; 3. Lusitanian; 4-6. Aegean Kapitän II
Crédits Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 125k
Titre Figure 3.
Légende Relative frequency of amphorae (MNV), for all types recorded in sectors E, N and G
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 70k
Titre Figure 4.
Légende LR 1B Cypriot/Cilician amphorae found in the horreum of the Diocletian Camp (1) and in sectors E and N (2-6, 8-9); LRA 1A fragment with titulus (7)
Crédits Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 114k
Titre Figure 5.
Légende Amphorae from Palmyra: 1-7. LRA 3 amphorae from context no. 89; 8. Ephesus 56 amphora
Crédits Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Titre Figure 6.
Légende Amphorae from Palmyra: 1-3. LR 4 amphorae ; 4-7. LR 5 Palestinian amphorae; 8-9. LR 5 Mareotis/Abu Mena amphorae; 10. LR 5 Egyptian Nile-silt amphora; 11-13. LR 7 amphorae ; 14. base of Beirut 8 amphora.
Crédits Drawing G. Majcherek, digitizing K. Juszczyk
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/10620/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 112k
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Grzegorz Majcherek, « Filling the gap: Mediterranean amphorae in Late antique Palmyra »Syria, 96 | 2019, 395-418.

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Grzegorz Majcherek, « Filling the gap: Mediterranean amphorae in Late antique Palmyra »Syria [En ligne], 96 | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2021, consulté le 06 décembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/syria/10620 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/syria.10620

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Grzegorz Majcherek

Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology,University of Warsaw

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