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Pompeii Pottery May Rewrite History
ABC Net ^ | 11-8-2004 | Heather Catchpole

Posted on 11/08/2004 11:40:27 AM PST by blam

Pompeii pottery may rewrite history

Heather Catchpole
ABC Science Online
Monday, 8 November 2004

A broken plate is one of the pieces in the puzzle of how ancient cultures traded (Image: Jaye Pont)

Archaeologists may need to change their view of Pompeii's role in trade and commerce, after a ceramics expert's recent discovery.

Australian researcher Jaye Pont from the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Sydney's Macquarie University says people who lived in Pompeii bought their pottery locally and didn't import it.

Pont said the find could "make waves" among archaeologists looking at trade in the Mediterranean.

And she said researchers may have to rethink shelves of museum pottery once thought to be from the eastern Roman Empire.

Pont looked at a particular type of red pottery from a city block in Pompeii that had been buried beneath rubble from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.

The city block had been inhabited since the 4th century BC. And an international group of researchers, known as the Anglo American Project in Pompeii, found thousands of samples of red slip pottery there.

This type of pottery was made by dipping a partly dried plate or bowl into a water-and-clay mix called slip. The vessel would then be fired to give it a red, shiny colour.

Previously, archaeologists had thought much of this pottery was imported from the eastern Roman Empire based at Constantinople, with the rest coming from northern Italy and Gallic France.

But Pont, who is doing her PhD on the pottery and is a potter, has found that all the "imported" pottery was local.

Who did Pompeii trade with?

Pont said her research would "turn upside down" old notions of commerce and trade between Pompeii and the eastern Roman Empire.

Inhabitants of Pompeii and other areas such as northern Africa, where the pottery is also found, were thought to have traded extensively with the eastern Roman Empire.

"The fact that I have not found one piece that has been imported I think will have quite large implications for trade and commerce in that area," Pont told ABC Science Online.

A red slip bowl (Image: Jennifer Stephens, Anglo American Project in Pompeii)

Pont and Macquarie University geologist Dr Patrick Conaghan examined 200 thin sections of the pottery under a microscope and looked at tiny flecks in the clay.

The flecks, which contained the mineral leucite, were identical in composition and unique to the Bay of Naples region, where Mount Vesuvius is found.

Most scientific analysis has been done chemically but not through thin section analysis, Pont said. But she said thin section analysis was "very clear cut": either the pottery is from the area or it isn't.

Pont said archaeologists made the mistake of thinking the pottery was imported because there was a lot of variation in the colour and quality of the local pottery compared to the pottery from northern Italy.

And archaeologists had based their classification of the pottery on these variations, she said.

"As a potter, perhaps I could see things archaeologists couldn't," said Pont. "In general archaeologists don't understand how [pottery] is made. They can't identify manufacturing techniques within a vessel."

She said archaeologists rely a lot on colour to differentiate vessels.

"I could understand that even in one kiln, what you get at the top and at the bottom of the kiln can be very different in colour."

Pottery is also classified by form, yet pottery "isn't an exact science", said Pont.

"But whole assemblages have been grouped by rim shape ... When I looked at [the pottery] I couldn't see the difference. It turns out there wasn't a difference."

She said the red slip pottery, known as terra sigillata, was also differentiated on the condition of the slip that coloured the vessel.

"It is read as gospel that eastern sigillata didn't have a slip that worked well. But if you have a potter with greasy fingers, that slip will peel off," she said.

Pont said although she has only excavated one city block, the fact that she was yet to find one piece that has been imported could make archaeologists reconsider shelves of museum pottery.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancientnavigation; archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; india; navigation; pompeii; pottery; rewrite; romanempire
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1 posted on 11/08/2004 11:40:31 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 11/08/2004 11:41:19 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

Makes sense. The archaeologists are not looking at the good china.


3 posted on 11/08/2004 11:50:27 AM PST by Graymatter
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To: blam

Here in Las Vegas yesterday I was at the Venitian and had the chance to see a tv show as part of audience research.

It's cool - they give you popcorn and stuff like mugs, t-shirts, anywhere from $2 to $15, etc, for about an hour of your time to sit there, watch the show, rate the content by a dial 'boring to interesting,' and answer some questions.

Anyway yesterday I saw a show called 'Supervolcano,' from the looks of it to be seen on Discovery channel. It was a new idea they have - dramatazations of disasters etc peppered with a lot of scientific info, a new 'dramatic' way to do a documentary, I guess.

It was hideously bad - about the volcano under old faithful erupting and causing the end of the world. Just poorly done.

Anyway, they ran a trailer for a show, "Pompeii: The Last Day' based on some new info and research. It was a drama also but it looked AWESOME! I was bummed that they didn't show us that, instead!

Keep an eye out on cable for the 'Pompeii' special!


4 posted on 11/08/2004 11:50:28 AM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: HitmanNY
"Keep an eye out on cable for the 'Pompeii' special!"

Thanks, I will. I'm more interested in super-volcanos though.

5 posted on 11/08/2004 11:55:47 AM PST by blam
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To: Carry_Okie

ping


6 posted on 11/08/2004 11:56:54 AM PST by farmfriend ( In Essentials, Unity...In Non-Essentials, Liberty...In All Things, Charity.)
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To: blam

I have seen documentaries on Super Volcanos in the past and share your interest (I think I also read something in Natural History magazine, I think, a couple of years ago).

It;s just that the production stunk - it was an odd way to do a drama-documentary. The acting wasn't good, and it just wasn't compelling.

Keep an eye out for both, though, and I hope you enjoy them!


7 posted on 11/08/2004 11:59:22 AM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
Thanks blam. Sounds like the alleged scientists involved are just getting started and wanna grab some headlines and some grants. All over the ancient world, fine ceramics typically were made locally, because they had a poor markup for their weight (ships were not as large as today's, although some were a lot bigger than we might think) and a lot of breakage in transport. Amphorae were roughly made jars used to ship olive oil, wine, and a variety of other things, but were not a cargo in and of themselves. Among other things found at Pompeii is an ivory figurine of a god, from India (all, see the "Tamil Trade" topic under the GGG keyword). One of the farms buried by the same eruption made liquamen for export as well as the local market. Garum (what we would call a name brand of liquamen; the name is analogous to "Kleenex" or "Xerox" or "Frigidaire") containers from Italy have been found all over the empire. If someone did a dig in my house (and believe me, it ain't that farfetched) they'd find many things made perhaps just a few dozen miles from here, as well as from around the country, or around the world, and the only foreign country I've ever visited is Canada.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

8 posted on 11/08/2004 12:09:12 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: blam

Another thing that bothers me about this -- the Romans (and even the Etruscans) had a lot of sculpture that was knocked off from Greek originals. Sooo, the styles were imported (of the dishes and other stuff) via the importation of craftsmen, or via the copying of a single example that was imported.


9 posted on 11/08/2004 12:13:59 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: SunkenCiv

I do a variety of archaeology at my house. There's an old garbage pile at the bottom of a drainage that silted up over the years. I deflect winter runoff through it in various ways to expose the stuff. It's mostly bottles from the '40s so far, but the place has been occupied for about 100 years, so I'm hoping for more interesting stuff as the pile wears down.


10 posted on 11/08/2004 12:29:23 PM PST by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are really stupid.)
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To: blam
"Heather Catchpole"

A name for the ages....

Cute, too....

11 posted on 11/08/2004 12:29:52 PM PST by r9etb
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To: HitmanNY

"Keep an eye out on cable for the 'Pompeii' special!"

Will do. Thanks.


12 posted on 11/08/2004 12:40:39 PM PST by Socratic (More matters than oneself.)
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To: blam

Doesn't surprise me about Pompeii doing trade with Eastern Roman empire and North Africa.


13 posted on 11/08/2004 2:46:51 PM PST by Ptarmigan (Proud rabbit hater and killer)
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To: Carry_Okie

Hey, you've just described my living room. ;') On a lesser note, my mom had some old cans and bottles with various paints and so forth. We took them over to the waste handling shack the county maintains out there. I pulled two of them out -- one was an old-fashioned brown glass "Roman Cleanser" gallon jug, with (I think) turpentine inside, the other a Listerine bottle with (perhaps) really old Listerine inside. Those old bottles are cool (not just due to their scarcity), with those raised letters. That kind of thing is mostly unheard of today, except perhaps for $5 - $6 jars of spaghettis sauce or somethin'.


14 posted on 11/08/2004 9:51:42 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: r9etb

Oooh. Don't tell her what I've said about her...


15 posted on 11/08/2004 9:52:21 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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Tamil Trade
INTAMM ^ | 1997 | Xavier S. Thani Nayagam
Posted on 09/11/2004 8:07:01 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts


16 posted on 11/08/2004 11:02:54 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

17 posted on 11/16/2005 10:03:25 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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To: HitmanNY

I've never seen TV folks anytime I've been to the V, and I've been several times. Where do they hang out?


18 posted on 11/16/2005 10:20:05 PM PST by pbear8 (Fitzmas has been canceled due to lack of interest)
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To: pbear8
Here in Las Vegas, there are three (almost) full time tv/movie marketing research facilities.

One is at The Venetian - when wandering around the Grand Canal Shops level, there is a booth in the hallway near the small oxygen bar, that leads to the food court. There are usually 2 or so staff members flagging people down to sign up for the marketing research.

Sign up at the booth in that hallway and they take you upstairs in an elevator right by the small oxygen bar. They give you all the popcorn you can eat and $5-10 for tv commercials/sitcoms and $ 10-20 for tv and theatrical movies. Then you give your opinion of what you just watched. If they like you, they may ask you to be in a focus group and you can make $ 30-40 for about 45mins to an hour of your time.

Another is at The Aladdin - There are two entrances into The Desert Passage stores. Enter the southernmost entrance and go down that hallway - about 200' in there is the marketing research booth and center. Usually they have folks flag people down by the outside on the Strip by the southernmost entrance. Same drill - $ 5-20 for anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours of your time. I saw the pilot movie to 'Eureka' here, and also the pilot to a really bad Howie Mandel sitcom that was very derivative of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' No popcorn here, though.

Another locale is at the MGM Grand - go into the MGM Grand Studio Walk (a collection of shops) and walk all the way down by the entrance to the MGM Grand's pool. There is a facility run by Paramount to test all its stuff: Nickelodeon, Paramount, UPN, shows and tv movies, and theatrical films (I think). No money there - just coupons for $5 or so at the food court and Paramount store. I saw the pilot episode of 'Kevin Hill' there and ripped it to shreds. The suits didn't listen to me and OKed the series, and it was a flop and was canceled!
19 posted on 11/16/2005 10:38:46 PM PST by HitmanLV (Listen to my demos for Savage Nation contest: http://www.geocities.com/mr_vinnie_vegas/index.html)
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To: HitmanNY

Wow, that's detailed. We didn't walk through the Canal last month, but I know exactly where you are talking about. Sounds like a cheap date, my husband would like that.


20 posted on 11/16/2005 10:52:17 PM PST by pbear8 (Fitzmas has been canceled due to lack of interest)
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