BMCR 2005.07.75

Vasi a matrice di età imperiale a Iasos, Missione archeologica Italiana di Iasos III. Archaeologica, 139

, Vasi a matrice di età imperiale a Iasos. Archaeologica ; 139. Rome: G. Bretschneider, 2003. 102 pages, 63 leaves of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.. ISBN 887689196X €146.00 (pb).

Baldoni’s book is the third volume in the monograph series of the Italian Excavations in Iasos, under the direction of Prof. Fede Berti. The introduction by Berti gives an overview of previous publications about the site and presents a discussion of Iasos’ commercial and political links with the wider Mediterranean world, but the bulk of the work is devoted to Baldoni’s careful catalogue and discussion of Iasian relief molded ware, which has always been difficult to date due to the lack of stratigraphical information from the previous excavations. Throughout the book, one can see Baldoni’s debt to Ursula Mandel, whose monograph Kleinasiatische Reliefkeramik der mittleren Kaiserzeit (= Pergamenische Forschungen V) appeared in 1988.

A shorter version of Baldoni’s conclusions was presented at a ceramic conference in 1996, arranged in part and published (in 2003) by the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul, where Baldoni presented a corpus of Iasian molded relief wares.1

Examples of Iasian molded relief ware come from the buildings in the Agora, the Theater, the Mosaic House, and Balik Pazari (Fish Market), all of which flourished in the second to third centuries A.D. The waste material from the furnaces found at Balik Pazari outside the ancient city provides certain evidence for Iasian molded relief production in Iasos, and the associated lamps and coins suggest that the wares began to be produced during the second century A.D.

The book is divided into five chapters followed by a conclusion. In the first chapter Baldoni gives a brief account of the molded relief ware production in Cnidos, Pergamon and Iasos (pp. 1-16). The second to fourth chapters constitute the bulk of the book, presenting a description of individual vessel forms, followed by the catalogue entries (pp. 17-83) and the conclusion (pp. 85-93). The catalogue comprises 329 examples, arranged typologically, starting with the closed forms, and is followed by a bibliography. The context of each piece is listed, but no comparanda are given in the entries.

The first chapter of the book summarizes the technique of Imperial molded relief ware production in general, part of which derives from toereutic art and glass molding techniques. This is followed by a description of Cnidian and Pergamene production centers, with their repertoire of vessels (Figs. III-IV for Cnidian forms; Fig. V for Pergamene), and Iasian production. Maps are provided to show the distribution pattern of the wares produced by these two centers (Figs. ι which demonstrates the wider distribution of Cnidian vs. Pergamene production. Additional Cnidian examples have been newly excavated at Troy.2

The book includes updates on the chronology of Cnidian and Pergamene production, such as the start date of Cnidian production based on literary3 and archaeological evidence,4 and a suggestion that the date of Cnidian production should be lowered from the fourth to the third quarter of the first century A.D. This includes Cnidian oinophoroi, the start date of which has been controversial. According to Mandel,5 it should fall in the beginning of the second century A.D., but the start date has been pushed back to the Flavian period by Mandel as well as by Kögler, because of antiquaria and style based on the associated imported pottery from a cistern fill closed in 75 A.D. (p. 7).6

The fabric, cup forms, themes, and decoration commonly used on vessels by each workshop are described. Cnidian fabric is fairly uniform, with fine-grained red/orange to bright brown to beige red containing occasional impurities of tiny particles ranging from white to dark. The external surfaces, often well-finished and polished, have a thin slip, and the surface is occasionally dark, often leaving a metallic appearance on the surface due to the reducing of firing. The most common cup forms — oinophoroi, amphoriskoi, ovoid and elongated conical types, pelikai, cylindrical and trefoil jugs, and skyphoi — are mostly decorated with Dionysiac subjects; erotic subjects are especially common on lagynoi, as are gladiatorial scenes, which also appear on phialai (p. 10, n. 11). Other Cnidian products are animal shape and phallic vases, lychnophoroi and ithyphallic figures (p. 10, n. 18).

This section is followed by a description of Pergamene relief molded wares published by Mandel. The common forms include cylindrical jugs, olpai, ‘pilgrim flasks,’ kantharoi, and thymiateria. The organization of mythical scenes in registers in metopic frames divided by columns or trees is slightly different from the Cnidian examples. Pergamene fabric ranges from red/orange red to brown; in general it is fine and has less mica. The surfaces of the vessels are often smoothed very well and show big patches of blackening due to the reduced oxygen atmosphere in the kiln. Mandel dates the start of the production of Silenus masks to the first century A.D. The type evidently continues to the beginning of the fourth century A.D. (p. 13). The flourishing of Pergamene production seems to fall between the Hadrianic and Antonine periods.

The Iasian series include mostly closed shapes produced under the influence of Cnidian ateliers, and they seem to enjoy local consumption. The vessels are unfortunately all in fragmentary condition (p. 14). The vegetation theme on the vessels seems to be less ornate than the examples made in Cnidos, and the details of decoration evinced by the Pergamene examples are completely missing in the Iasian series. Iasian fabric consists of micaceous pinkish red fabric. The firing and surface slip differ from the products of Cnidus and Pergamon. Baldoni comments that fabrics other than Cnidian and Pergamene have found their way to Iasos. There were other regional production centers producing molded relief ware at the same time, some of which could be located somewhere in the Maeander valley.

In Chapter 2 Baldoni compares the Iasian examples of closed vessel varieties with similar products from Cnidus and Pergamon. Oinophoroi, small jugs for wine, and pelikai enjoyed wide scale distribution throughout the second and third centuries A.D. Iasian examples number 16 (Cat. ##1-16), most of which come from the Agora buildings, the Basilica, and the area south of the Theater. Cylindrical jugs form the largest number in Iasos (Cat. ##19-54). They are mostly from the Agora, but a few examples come from the Balik Pazari, where the kiln wasters were found. The form is produced both by Cnidian and Pergamene workshops with slight differences in technique (p. 22, nn. 42-43). The form starts around A.D. 60. By the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century A.D., imitations by the African potter Navigius were produced, with a more elongated body profile, molding, and decoration in more than one register (p. 23, n. 46). Regarding the olpai attributed to Pergamene workshops, their circulation seems not to extend beyond western Asia Minor (p. 29, n. 48). In Iasos only three examples come from the Agora (Cat. ##55-57).

The lagynoi are typical products of Cnidian workshops. The variations of the type with the human head, or grotesque faces, may have derived from metal or terracotta prototypes, possibly produced in a workshop around Izmir (p. 30, n. 52).7 The distribution of the type seems to have occurred during the second century A.D. During the third century A.D. fine imitations were produced by the African workshops of Navigius, Saturninus and Gududio.8 Iasian examples mostly come from the Agora and Theater (Cat. ##59-73), except one from the kiln area (Cat. #58).

Pergamon was a major center of production of the so-called ‘pilgrim flasks,’ which were intended for wine (p. 34, n. 69, inscription). Mandel suggested another Asia Minor center was responsible for the production of gladiator types with combat scenes found at Pergamon (Cat. ##76-77).9 They were produced from the second to fourth century A.D. Iasian examples consist of 8 fragments (Cat. ##74-81). Similar to Cat. #81 is a piece found in Benghazi and published as Cnidian.10

The vases of small dimensions (Cat. ##82-83) find parallels in Ephesos; similar examples were produced by Cnidian workshops in the first century A.D. (p. 36, n. 77).

Although no scientific analysis was made, the abundance of jugs in Iasos leads Baldoni to argue that they could have been produced in Iasos. The most common elements of these Iasian jugs are punched dots (Cat. #86, pl. 24) and jugs with incised herringbone patterns on the handles (Cat. ##88-107, pls. 25-27).

Baldoni catalogues this group under eighteen different forms (Cat. ##84-147), followed by an unidentified closed form with figural scenes (Cat. ##148-156) or simple geometric patterns (Cat. ##157-273) and a peculiar shape of base (Cat. #157). Since the vessels do not come from sealed contexts, the classification was based only on typology. There are no comparanda for this group in Pergamene or Cnidian workshops. Baldoni believes that these are certainly Iasian products. Chapter 3 deals with serving vessels, including drinking cups, which are few in number. One skyphos comes from a trench close to the Theater (Cat. #274); cups come mostly from the Agora (Cat. ##275-282), although one was found in the kiln area (Cat. #283). The skyphoi have been influenced by Hellenistic and Imperial lead glaze traditions and molded glass examples (p. 65, nn. 83 and 85).

The cup with ledge rim and figural decoration is attributed to Cnidian workshops (Cat. #275). Others, such as one with fluted walls (Cat. #277) and another with ledge rim in triangular form and punched dots over the rim (Cat. ##278-283), do not have parallels elsewhere. The phialai with medallion and radial vertical ribbing around the medallion interior of the vessel (Cat. ##284-288) are similar to the Cnidian examples. The type starts early in the first century A.D.6 The distribution of this type seems to have been widespread in the eastern and western Mediterranean, as well as the Black Sea. The mid-third-century A.D. examples found at Athens have dipinti in white. The animal-handled paterae, which were modeled after the Italian bronze vessels, the medallions imitating silver prototypes of the first century B.C., start before the Claudian period and are distributed as far as North Africa (p. 69, n. 106) and the Atlantic coast (p. 69, n. 110). They come from earlier excavations in Cnidus.11 One local Iasian example has no decoration on its base; it is simple, with incised lines on the wall (Cat. #288).

Chapter 4, on plastic vases, includes human (Cat. ##289-300) and animal shapes (Cat. ##301-321) in the form of askoi and phallic vessels (Cat. #322). Cnidian and Pergamene workshops produced vessels that evince a wide range of style and iconography. Typical of the Cnidian workshop is the fashioning of the lower part of the body in the shape of a human head, with vertical ribbon handles and a narrow mouth on a long cylindrical neck (p. 71). The type starts with a beardless figure in the first century A.D. and continues into the second century with the bearded type employed by Pergamene workshops.12 The Iasos forms consist of a negroid type (Cat. #292, pl. 41) or a grotesque head (Cat. #291), such as those in Cnidian style. The kantharoi with human heads are a substitute for one-handled jugs (p. 72).13 The date for this type is based on style rather than stratigraphy. Several closed contexts allow Baldoni to date the negroid type to a period ranging from just prior to the Augustan age (p. 73, n. 123) to the second half of first century A.D. (p. 73, n. 125). The animal-shaped vessels in the form of askoi (Cat. ##301-321) were distributed in the Mediterranean from the second to the third century A.D. The type was produced by Cnidian workshops and soon after imitated by local workshops in North Africa and elsewhere. A Cnidian example of a rooster, dated to the second half of the first century A.D., comes from the recent excavations at Cnidos.14 Such bird series were also produced at Iasos.

The phallic type is represented by one example from the theater area (Cat. #322). although similar examples of the type have been published earlier.15 The Iasian example may date to the second century A.D., although the contexts are not very dependable.

Chapter 5 includes diverse objects such as lamps and thymiateria (Cat. ##323-327). One waster fragment from the kiln area leads Baldoni to believe that they were also produced in Iasos (p. 83).

Baldoni includes a long and very general conclusion where she summarizes the fine ware production and distribution in the Mediterranean. Some of this information repeats earlier comments by Lund and Hayes.16 Baldoni discusses the transformation from agriculture to industry in the economy of the city. She does not, however, comment much on the urban growth of Iasos and how the production of relief molded vessels contributed to the economy.

There are only 300 sherds, and none was subjected to scientific analysis; it is consequently not clear that all the types presented in the book were in fact produced in Iasos (p. 14). There needs to be stratigraphical evidence for accurate dating of most of the types. Still, the book provides a valuable service in illustrating the range of vessel types found at Iasos.

The book raises the possibility of more production centers of ‘oinophoroi’ ware in Asia Minor.


1. D. Baldoni, “Vasi a Matrice di età Romana a Iasos,” in Catherine Abadie-Reynal (ed.), Les ceramiques en Anatolie aux époques hellenistique et romaine (Paris 2003), pp. 165-177.

2. Tekkök, B., et. al., The Lower City of Troy; The Houses (forthcoming 2006).

3. A detailed account of the apotropaic meaning of phallic vases is provided by K.W. Slane and M.W. Dickie, “A Knidian Phallic vase from Corinth,” Hesperia 62 (1994), 483, n. 2 (discussion of Lucian Amores XI).

4. D. M. Bailey, “Cnidian Relief Ware Vases and Fragments in the British Museum,” RCRF 14-15 (1972-1973), 22 (lamps beginning to be produced in 70/80 A.D.); P. Kögler, “Frühkaiserzeitliche Feinkeramik aus Knidos die Füllung einer Zisterne in der sog. ‘Blocked Stoa’,” RCRF 36 (2000), 69-82; U. Mandel, “Die frühe Produktion der sog. Oinophorenware- Werkstätten von Knidos,” RCRF 36 (2000), 57-68;

5. U. Mandel, Kleinasiatische Reliefkeramik der mittleren Kaiserzeit. Pergamenische Forschungen V. (Berlin 1988).

6. New updates on the phialai with relief medallions; U. Mandel, “Italische Einflüsse in der knidischen Keramik der frühen Kaiserzeit,” BABesch Suppl. 10 (2005) (forthcoming); P. Kögler, “Early Italian Sigillata,” BABesch Suppl. 10 (2005) (forthcoming).

7. L. Ghali-Kahil, “Un lagynos au Musée du Caire,” Mon Piot 51(1960), 76-77; she cites parallels from Myrina and also mentions Notion-Colophon (p. 76, nn. 5-6).

8. J. W. Salomonson, “Der Trunkenbol und die Trunkene Alte. Unt,” BABesch 55 (1980), 65-80, esp. 73-75.

9. Above note 5, pp. 192-198.

10. P. M. Kendrick, Excavations at Sidi Khrebish Benghazi (Berenice), Vol. III, 1, 337, B501.1, fig.63.

11. Iris Love, AJA 73 (1969), 218, pl. 62, fig. 20.

12. Above.note 6, 3a, b; n. 4a, b, pl. 33.

13. Above note 6, 25.

14. E. Doksanaltı, “Die Keramikfunde aus den Arealen Z1 and Y1 der Dionysos-Stoa in Knidos,” RCRF 36 (2000), 75, 82, esp. 80, n. 14, fig. 3.

15. Above note 3, 497-498, pl.86a; above note 6, 256, K289, pl. 32.

16. John Lund, “From Archaeology to history? Reflections on the Chronological Distribution of Ceramic Finewares in Southwestern and Southern Asia Minor from the 1st to the 7th c. A.D.,” in M. Herfort-Koch, U. Mandel, U. Schädler (edd.), Hellenistische und kaiserzeitliche Keramik des östlichen Mittelmeergebietes, Kolloquim Frankfurt 24.-25. April 1995 (Frankfurt 1996), pp.105-125; J.W. Hayes, “From Rome to Beirut and Beyond: Asia Minor and Eastern Mediterranean Trade Connections,” RCRF 36 (2000), pp. 285-297.