Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2013.04.17 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.04.17

Norbert Kramer, Keramik und Kleinfunde aus Diokaisareia. Diokaisareia in Kilikien: Ergebnisse des Surveys 2001-2006, Bd 1.   Berlin; Boston:  De Gruyter, 2012.  Pp. viii, 83; 65; 9 p. of plates.  ISBN 9783110222159.  $140.00.  

Reviewed by Hugh Elton, Trent University (


This is a publication of the ceramics and small finds from Diocaesarea in Cilicia (southern Turkey), the result of survey work undertaken by Detlev Wannagat and his team between 2001 and 2006. The audience is very limited, scholars doing fieldwork in Cilicia and, perhaps, ceramicists in the eastern Mediterranean. This is an old-school volume, with fewer than 100 pages of text (with 1.5 inch margins), and 11 coloured maps, high-quality paper, and 74 pages of find illustrations, including nine in colour. Physically, this is an impressive volume, though at 10 x 13.5 inches it’s pretty big.

Diocaesarea is an interesting place, a Hellenistic sanctuary of Zeus, which became a Roman city in the early Empire, and still had a functioning demos in the fifth century AD. The architecture includes a large temple converted to a church, a Hellenistic tower tomb, and a colonnaded street. Wannagat and his team have other publications out in this series (on the theatre) or on the way (the necropolis), as well as several excellent articles, mostly concerned with the architecture.

The approximately 4000 sherds and various small finds were collected in a single five week programme from 61 collection units within the walls of the city and 15 collection units arranged around the outside of the wall circuit. Of these finds, 668 pieces are described in a catalogue and illustrated with line drawings or photographs. The total number of each form is given by fabric and the localisation of these forms can be reconstructed from the tables (47- 52). This is probably the best that can be managed without providing access to datafiles on a CD or website. The other small finds included here are ceramic (weights, tiles, etc.), glass, and stone only, but no metal or bone. There were 45 bronze coins recovered, of which 28 were legible, covering the first century BC to the seventh century AD. Unfortunately, although we can reconstruct where most of the sherds and other objects were found, little is said about how they were collected. There are only two paragraphs on the collection, followed by two pages of reflections (2-4). Plainware bodysherds were not collected, and only a sample of rooftiles. However, it is unclear whether the walking was systematic, or simply involved roaming the various collection units. Any conclusions drawn from the tables of data are thus highly subjective. There is an enormous body of work on sherd collection methodologies as well as a growing body of theory on the survey of urban areas, including sherd collection, but those interested in this sort of work will not find their thinking advanced by this volume.

The finds cover the pre-Hellenistic period (mostly Iron Age, though with a few Chalcolithic, MBA, and LBA sherds and two ground stone tools) to the early Byzantine period (defined here as the seventh century). There are four defined types of late Roman sigillata, African Red Slip, Phocaean Red Slip, Cypriot Red Slip, and Sagalassos Red Slip. This picture is thus very different from the Cilician site of Anemurium where James Russell’s excavations produced all of these (except the at that point not identified Sagalassos RS), but also several other types of locally produced imitation RS ware (i.e., CRS, PRS, and ARS forms in local fabrics), as well as the delightfully named pie crust rim ware and Hayes ‘Egyptian A’. Similarly, at the inland Cilician site of Kilise Tepe (final report published by Nicholas Postgate in 2007, though not in the bibliography here), there was PRS, CRS, and spiral burnished ware, matching the finds at Alahan (Caroline Williams in Gough, M., ed., Alahan (Toronto, 1985), 35-61 also not in the bibliography). The very simple pattern of standard Late Roman Red Slip wares suggested for Diocaesarea is thus not compelling. However, it may be worth noting that Poblome has recently suggested reviving the term Late Roman D ware to include both CRS and Sagalassos RS, as well as many other minor groups of southern Anatolian Late Roman Red Slip wares (in Late Roman Fine Wares 1, ed. M.A. Cau, P. Reynolds, and M. Bonifay [2011]).

Unlike the analysis of the finewares, the Hellenistic to early Byzantine coarsewares are lumped together in a single section, sorted by fabric and then by form. This is survey data, and it is certainly not easy to analyse, but the approach is to present rather than to analyse the data. There could be greater engagement with recent work on Late Roman coarse wares. This could include the two large volumes on Late Roman Coarse Wares published in 2005 and 2007, with the work of Çiğdem Toskay Evrin on LR cooking pots and Paul Reynolds on eastern Mediterranean amphorae. Remarkably, no publications by Reynolds (or John Lund or Joanita Vroom) are mentioned. Nor is there any sign of contact with the excavations at Elaiussa/Sebaste, only 25 km away on the coast. The third volume of the excavations by Eugenia Equini Schneider was published in 2010, too late to enter the bibliography, but it is sad that no mention is made of any of the excellent work of the ceramicists Adele Ferrazzoli and Marco Ricci.

Following the catalogue, there are thirteen pages of discussion about the city and the ceramics, covering the pre- Hellenistic, Hellenistic, Roman, and early Byzantine periods. On occasion the analysis turns on the percentages of various find types from the site, though given the apparently unsystematic collection strategy this is a risky endeavour. Similarly, given the limitations of surface ceramics and the work done in the past decade on post-seventh century AD ceramics in the region, especially at Elaiussa/Sebaste, I would not be as confident as the author in suggesting that this was a non-urban site and a nominal bishopric after the mid-seventh century (1, 76).

Minor Points: there is a suggestion of an imitation of the amphora form Zemer 41 (30), though I think the argument needs to be more fully developed, particularly as the line drawings do not make a substantive case. All the unguentaria are tabulated as Hellenistic though this does not agree with the text (13, 50). The thin marble fragments (for wall or floor covering) come from numerous sites in Anatolia and the Aegean, suggestive of a highly developed trade in these goods and good connections for the city only 25 km inland (also suggested by a few western imports (#137, 381)). The terminology occasionally looks very dated, e.g., references to British Bii amphorae (29, 33). There are no scales on the ceramic drawings themselves, though it is usually a generous 1:2 (something discovered with a ruler, not by reading the volume). Some large forms, however, are marked as 1:3, while Plate 56 confusingly includes one jar drawn at 1:3, two at 1:4, and seven (unmarked) at 1:2. Misprints are odious to point out, but the contents page does include the regrettable ‘Keramische keinfunde’.

In conclusion, this volume is most useful for those doing archaeological fieldwork in Cilicia. The data certainly needs to be published, but I wonder about the lavishness devoted to unsystematically collected survey pottery and feel this work would made a better article than a monograph.

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