BMCR 2019.03.36

LRCW 5: late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean

, LRCW 5: late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean : archaeology and archaeometry/ La céramique commune, la céramique culinaire et les amphores de l'Antiquité tardive en Méditerranée. Études alexandrines, 42-43​. Alexandria: Centre d'Études Alexandrines​, 2017. 1056. €80,00.

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This publication presents the proceedings of the fifth triennial Late Roman Coarsewares, Cooking Wares and Amphorae in the Mediterranean conference, held in Alexandria, Egypt in April, 2014. These conferences—referred to by the organizers as LRCW—are intended to provide students of pottery in the late Roman world (understood as extending from the fourth to the seventh century CE) the opportunity to come together on a regular basis to present their research results and to discuss materials and methods. LRCW 1-4 were held in Barcelona in 2002, Aix-en-Provence in 2005, Pisa in 2008, and Thessaloniki in 2011. Proceedings for these appeared in the British Archaeological Reports International Series.1 LRCW 6 was held in Agrigento in May, 2017, and the proceedings publication is currently in production.2 (n.b.: The reviewer has modified slightly the table of contents as it appears at the end of this review, numbering the contributions so that he can refer to these in a convenient fashion. All numbers in square brackets that follow in the text refer to this numbering scheme.)

The work under review is a two-volume set (as are those for LRCW 2-4) produced as part of the Études alexandrines series of the Centre d’Études Alexandrines, which hosted the conference. It includes a brief introduction by the editor followed by 54 contributions in English (21), French (15), Italian (15), Spanish (2), and German (1), grouped by geographical region. The quality of editing and production is excellent throughout, with the judicious use of color images—for the most part for photomicrographs of ceramic thin sections. To be lamented are the lack of an abstract and keywords for the contributions and the absence of a concluding essay offering a synthesis of some kind, as was done for LRCW 2-4. Works cited in multiple contributions are grouped in a general bibliography that appears at the back of both volumes. Other works cited are listed at the end of the contribution. This is somewhat inconvenient, as the user does not know in which location to search for a reference and reproductions of individual contributions in most cases will not list all of the works cited in them.

The contributions report on programs of analysis involving pottery recovered at locales ranging from the coast of Galicia in the west to the west bank of the Euphrates in the east, and from Chersonesus in the north to Aswan in the south—thus from literally the length and breadth of the greater Mediterranean world. The number of contributions by the country or countries in which the site or sites at which the materials considered were recovered are as follows: Portugal (1), Spain (4), France (1), Italy (16), Tunisia (1), Libya (1), Croatia (1), Bulgaria (1), Romania (1), Ukraine (1), Greece (4), Turkey (1), Syria (2), Turkey and Egypt (1), and Egypt (13). Additionally, one contribution considers materials from a number of sites along the Lower Danube and Black Sea littoral, and one materials from several sites along both the Mediterranean and Black Sea littorals. The contributions vary in length from as few as eight to as many as 46 pages, with some of the shorter ones representing brief, preliminary reports and some of the longer offering detailed presentations of substantial sets of materials. The various installments of LRCW—which from LRCW 1 through LRCW 5 were deliberately located in venues that progressed across the Mediterranean from west to east— have tended to showcase studies that focus on the region in which the conference was held, and the large set of contributions concerning materials from Egypt is particularly worthy of note.

Probably the most widely appreciated value of pottery from the late Roman period is the opportunity that it presents to document the persistence/non-persistence of the systems for the distribution of craft goods and foodstuffs characteristic of the Roman world in specific locales and regions at more or less specific points in time. It is thus not surprising that the lion’s share of the contributions—43—are concerned with the classification, quantification, dating, epigraphy, and/or compositional characterization of sets of materials from single consumption sites or sets of consumption sites within a particular region. Five contributions treat pottery production workshops and materials recovered at these [6, 26, 43, 48, 49], while one contribution discusses pottery from a shipwreck site that was being transported as cargo [28]. Four contributions focus in a substantial way on ceramic technology [17, 18, 52, 54], only one aims to make an original methodological contribution to pottery studies[2], and just three present close analyses of pottery assemblages aimed at the elucidation of issues such as vessel function and life history [36, 50, 53]. With regard to methodology, most quantitative studies employ sherd count and/or minimum number of vessels measures, with but one instance of the use of the estimated vessel equivalents measure [43]. Twelve studies present the results of the petrographic analysis of materials [3, 5, 7, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 43, 44, 54]. In three cases this was undertaken in combination with X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis with a view to determining the crypto-/micro-crystalline components of the fabric [5, 18, 19] and in five cases in combination with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis for the determination of fabric chemistry [5, 7, 18, 20, 43]. In one contribution xeroradiography is employed to evaluate forming technique[17], and in one study Raman analysis is utilized to determine slipping technique [18]. With but two exceptions [43, 54], all of these analyses were undertaken by just three laboratories, one in Barcelona, one in Genoa, and one in Naples, a fact that underscores the narrow base of archaeometric research in the study of late Roman pottery. A few contributions make passing reference to items in glass, pietra ollare (steatite), leather, or wood, though none aims to integrate pottery evidence with that for one or more other categories of artifact. One contribution considers (separately) both pottery and faunal remains [30]. It is interesting to note the analytical methods and approaches that are not represented in the volumes under review, as this provides some idea of the current state of the field of late-Roman pottery studies. To this point, none of the contributions involves the 3D scanning of vessels, aims to measure vessel capacity or identify residues of vessel content, considers vessel use alterations, or provides a link to an on-line dataset or research tool.3

Limitations of space preclude the consideration here of individual contributions, and readers can consult the table of contents presented at the end of this review to gain an idea of the specific nature of these. In the reviewer’s estimation, the most important and/or interesting are the following: Fernández and Morais’ presentation of an amphora production workshop at San Martiño de Breu, on the coast of Galicia, in northwestern Spain that was active from the late second to the fourth century CE [5]; Amorós Ruiz and collaborators’ presentation of materials from a seventh-century CE extramural midden at Tolmo de Minateda, in Albacete [8]; Mukai and collaborators’ presentation of materials from three warehouse contexts at Arles dating from the mid-seventh to the early eighth century CE [9]; Martucci and collaborators’ technical study of color-coat wares dating from the third to the sixth century CE from the villa at Pollena Trocchia, on the north slope of Mount Vesuvius [18]; Santoriello and Siano’s presentation of fourth- to early sixth-century CE materials from UT 0466, a surface site along the route of the Via Appia in the Province of Benevento [19]; Opaiț’s survey of amphorae dating from the first to the seventh century CE from sites on the Lower Danube and Black Sea littoral [28]; Sazanov’s morphological study of Late Roman 4 amphoras dating from the second to the seventh century CE from several sites on the Mediterranean and Black Sea littorals [31]; Haidar Vela’s presentation of a seventh-century CE pottery assemblage from Halabiyye-Zenobia, on the west bank of the Euphrates, in Syria [40]; Vokaer’s presentation of fifth- to seventh-century CE amphorae from Apamea [41]; Ballet’s survey of the production and consumption of pottery in Egypt during the Roman and Byzantine periods [42]; and Wininger’s presentation of a seventh-century CE deposit of pottery from a storeroom in a house at Syene [53].

LRCW 1-4 radically expanded the horizons of the study of late Roman pottery by providing a central venue for the discussion of research aims and methods and the presentation of research results. Collectively, the studies published in LRCW 5 do an admirable job of carrying this work forward, making a sizable and significant contribution to the body of empirical evidence available regarding the manufacture and distribution of pottery in the late Roman world.

Table of Contents

Volume 1
1. Delphine Dixneuf “Avant-propos” 11

Considérations générales et méthodologie
2. Stefano Costa “Shard weight. A new look at the numbers” 15
3. Josep Torres Costa, Alejandro Quevedo, Claudio Capelli, Xavier Aquilué “Inscriptions sur les amphores africaines tardives. Le cas des Keay 35” 25

La Méditerranée occidentale
4. José Carlos Quaresma “Quinta da Bolacha (Amadora, Lisbonne). La céramique de la villa (dernier tiers du iiie siècle au premier quart du vie siècle)” 43

5. Leandro Fantuzzi, Miguel Ángel Cau Ontiveros, Paul Reynolds “Archaeometric characterisation of Late Roman Amphora 1 imports in north-eastern Spain” 93
6. Adolfo Fernández Fernández, Rui Morais “Las ánforas tardoantiguas de San Martiño de Bueu (MR 7). El primer centro de producción de ánforas del noroeste de Hispania” 117
7. Jeronima Riutort, Miguel Ángel Cau Ontiveros, Leandro Fantuzzi, Jordi Roig “Late Roman common and cooking wares from the site of Can Gambús, Catalonia, Spain. Interim archaeometric results” 131
8. Victoria Amorós Ruiz, Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret, Gabriel Lara Vives “El basurero extramuros del Tolmo de Minateda. Un contexto cerámico del siglo VII” 149

9. Tomoo Mukai, Jean-Christophe Tréglia, Erwan Dantec, Marc Heijmans “Arles, enclos Saint-Césaire. La céramique d’un dépotoir urbain du Haut Moyen Âge. Milieu du viie -début du viiie siècle apr. J.-C.” 171

10. Simonetta Menchelli “Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae. A survey of current research in Italy” 203
11. Elena Quiri “Anfore tardo romane nell’arco alpino occidentale (Piemonte, Italia)” 223
12. Elisa Panero “La valle della Sesia nella Tarda Antichità tra produzioni locali e importazioni ad ampio raggio” 239
13. Angela Deodato “Ceramica comune tardoromana nel territorio di Biella. Riflessioni sul servizio da cucina e da dispensa (Piemonte, Italia)” 259
14. Massimo Dadà, Fabio Fabiani, Antonio Fornaciari, Maria Cristina Mileti, Emanuela Paribeni, Claudia Rizzitelli “Un insediamento tardo-antico e alto-medievale nell’ager Lunensis. Gli scavi di Piazza Mercurio a Massa” 273
15. Simonetta Menchelli, Alberto Cafaro, Claudio Capelli, Stefano Genovesi, Paolo Sangriso “Vada Volaterrana (Vada, Livorno). Un contesto tardo-antico dalle Piccole Terme. Anfore e vasi comuni e da fuoco” 287
16. Paola Ventura, Elena Braidotti “Aquileia (UD). Le anfore tardoantiche dal pozzo di via dei Patriarchi” 313
17. Diana Dobreva, Anna Riccato, Claudio Capelli “Late Roman coarse ware at Aquileia, northern Italy. Between economic crisis and revival of tradition” 331
18. Caterina Serena Martucci, Chiara Germinario, Celestino Grifa, Girolamo Ferdinando De Simone, Alessio Langella, Piergiulio Cappelletti, Vincenzo Morra “Late Roman slipped or painted ware? Technology and chronology of some Campanian productions” 347
19. Alfonso Santoriello, Stefania Siano “Late Roman tableware and cooking ware from the Ancient Appia Landscapes Survey, Benevento, Italy” 363
20. Laëtitia Cavassa, Priscilla Munzi, Jean-Pierre Brun, Emmanuel Botte, Chiara Germinario, Celestino Grifa, Mariano Mercurio, Alessio Langella, Vincenzo Morra “Cumes. Le matériel tardo-antique découvert dans un puits. Entre données typologiques et analyses archéométriques” 385
21. Vittoria Carsana, Franca Del Vecchio “Le anfore di V secolo d.C. dai contesti di edifici prossimi al porto di Neapolis” 407
22. Rosa Conte, Vito Giannico, Daniela Palmisano, Mariangela Pignataro “Il contesto ceramico tardoantico del quartiere produttivo e residenziale di Egnazia (Fasano, Italia)” 419
23. Cristina Nervi “La ceramica africana di periodo vandalico in Sardegna” 439
24. Valentina Caminneci “Nuovi dati dall’Emporion tardo antico e bizantino di Agrigento (Sicilia, Italia)” 465
25. Patrizio Pensabene, Eleonora Maria Cirrone, Lourdes Girón Anguiozar “La Villa di Piazza Armerina (Enna, Sicilia). Dati preliminari sulle ceramiche tardoantiche dalle Terme Meridionali” 477

Tunisie & Libye
26. Jihen Nacef (avec une contribution de Claudio Capelli) “Moknine 2 (Tunisie). Nouvelles données sur un atelier de potier d’époque tardive en Byzacène” 491
27. Francesca Dell’Era “Leptis Magna, «Tempio flavio». Prime considerazioni sulle produzioni locali di ceramica da cucina africana” 517

28. Mladen Pešic´ Babuljaš “A shipwreck with a cargo of North African pottery and amphorae near Pakoštane, Croatia” 527
Abréviations 537
Bibliographie générale des volumes 1 et 2 541

Volume 2

Europe orientale et mer Noire
29. Andrei Opaiț “On the local production and imports of wine in the Pontic and Lower Danube regions (1st century BC to 7th century AD). An overview” 579
30. George Nuțu, Simina Stanc “Cooking ware and dietary reconstruction from two north Scythian sites. Aegyssus and Enisala Peștera” 613
31. Andrei Sazanov “Les amphores LRA 4. Problèmes de typologie et de chronologie” 629
32. Andrei Sazanov “Un ensemble de la fin du VIe siècle. Secteur nord de Chersonèse (Crimée)” 651
33. Petra Tušlová “Late Roman amphorae from a 6th century AD house on the Dodoparon site in south-eastern Bulgaria” 671
34. Piotr Dyczek “Amphorae from Late Roman structures on the site of the legionary barracks in Novae (Moesia Inferior)” 683

Méditerranée orientale

35. Gelly Fragou, Aris Tsaravopoulos “Late Roman amphorae from the settlement of Kyparissia, Messenia, Greece” 697
36. Stefano Costa “An archaeology of domestic life in Early Byzantine Gortyna. Stratigraphy, pots and contexts” 711
37. Jacopo Bonetto, Marianna Bressan, Denis Francisci, Stefania Mazzocchin, Eleni Schindler Kaudelka “Spoglio e riuso del teatro del Pythion di Gortyna tra 300 e 365 d.C. I contesti ceramici” 723
38. Jacopo Bonetto, Giovanna Falezza, Stefania Mazzocchin “La ceramica con ingobbio rosso dallo scavo del Teatro del Pythion a Gortyna (Creta)” 733

39. Bahadır Duman “A typo-chronological table of Late Roman amphorae from Lydian Tripolis” 743

40. Nairusz Haidar Vela “New insights from the 7th century ceramics in Halabiyye-Zenobia, Syria” 759
41. Agnès Vokaer “Late Roman amphorae from Apamea, Syria” 779

42. Pascale Ballet “État des recherches sur la production et la consommation des céramiques « communes » dans l’Égypte romaine et byzantine” 807
43. Ahmet Kaan Șenol, Erkan Alkaç “The rediscovery of an LR 1 workshop in Cilicia and the presence of LRA 1 in Alexandria in the light of new evidence” 831
44. Michel Bonifay, Claudio Capelli, Ahmet Kaan Șenol “Amphores africaines tardives à Alexandrie. Archéologie et archéométrie” 845
45. Archer Martin “Products of Aswan at Schedia, western Delta, Egypt” 859
46. Mohamed Kenawi, Cristina Mondin “Commerci in epoca tardo romana-bizantina a Kom al-Ahmer, vicino ad Alessandria (Egitto)” 869
47. Loïc Mazou “Nouvelles données sur les amphores d’Afrique vers la Cyrénaïque et l’Égypte. De la fin de l’époque romaine aux premiers temps de la conquête arabe” 881
48. Guy Lecuyot “Une production de vaisselle commune dans le Delta occidental aux environs du IIIe siècle apr. J.-C. Marmites et autres récipients de Tell el Fara‘in/ Bouto” 901
49. Julie Marchand, Aude Simony “Nouvelles recherches sur le site de Kôm Abou Billou (Delta occidental). La céramique de la période byzantine et du début de l’époque islamique” 909
50. Roland-Pierre Gayraud, Jean-Christophe Tréglia “La céramique culinaire des niveaux omeyyades d’Istabl ‘Antar – Fustat (642-750 apr. J.-C.)” 931
51. Delphine Dixneuf “Amphores et céramiques communes en Moyenne-Égypte au VIIe siècle apr. J.-C. L’exemple de Baouît” 947
52. Romain David “Karnak au début de la période byzantine. Caractérisation d’une production locale” 963
53. Jacqueline Wininger “Syene (Aswan). Ein geschlossenes Keramikensemble aus einem um 650 AD verstürzten Haus” 975
54. Lisa Peloschek, Denise Katzjäger “Archaeological and mineralogical profile of Aswan pink clay-pottery from Late Antique Elephantine (Upper Egypt)” 997
55. Clementina Caputo, Julie Marchand, Irene Soto “Pottery from the fourth century house of Serenos in Trimithis/Amheida (Dakhla oasis)” 1011
Abréviations 1027
Bibliographie générale des volumes 1 et 2 1031


1. These are: J. M. Gurt i Esparraguera, J. Buxeda i Garrigós, M. A. Cau Ontiveros (eds.). LRCW 1. Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean: archaeology and archaeometry. British archaeological reports international series, 1340, 2005; Michel Bonifay, Jean-Christophe Tréglia (eds.). LRCW 2. Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean: archaeology and archaeometry (2 vols.). British archaeological reports international series 1662, 2007; Simonetta Menchelli, Sara Santoro, Marinella Pasquinucci, Gabriella Guiducci (eds.). LRCW 3. Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean: archaeology and archaeometry. Comparison between western and eastern Mediterranean (2 vols.). British archaeological reports international series 2185, 2010; Natalia Poulou-Papadimitrou, Eleni Nodarou, Vassilis Kilikoglou (eds.). LRCW 4. Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean: archaeology and archaeometry. The Mediterranean: a market without frontiers (2 vols.). British archaeological reports international series 2616, 2014.

2. For LRCW 6 see

3., a website consisting of a virtual laboratory devoted to the study of coarse and cooking wares in the Late Antique Mediterranean announced in LRCW 4, has not gone live at the time of the writing of this review. ​