The Origins and Ancient History of Wine

By Patrick E. McGovern; Stuart J. Fleming et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

The Analysis of Wine and Other Organics Inside Amphoras of the Roman Period

Françoise Formenti and J.M. Duthel


1.

Introduction

Evidence for commercial traffic in wine exists as early as the mid-3rd millennium B.C. in the Ebla corpus (also see chapter 9 by Powell and chapter 10 by Zettler and Miller, this volume). “Canaanite” jars or amphoras constitute the earliest material evidence for such commerce (see chapter 15 by Leonard, chapter 14 by Lesko, and chapter 5 by McGovern and Michel). These pottery containers were used to transport foodstuffs including wine, as attested by shipwrecks along the Turkish coast dating as early as 1700 B.C. (Sheytan Deresi), and are frequently shown in Egyptian reliefs and frescoes. The Canaanite jar was the precursor of later Greek amphoras, which were employed in an extensive Mediterranean wine trade (see chapter 20 by Koehler, this volume).


2.

Amphoras of the Greek and Roman Periods in Southern France

Amphoras, as the ancient wine containers par excellence throughout the Mediterranean, have been recovered from late 7th century B.C. sites in western Languedoc, together with Greek, Etruscan, and Punic pottery. Marseille, a Phocaean (Ionian) colony, was founded at about this time, and led to an intensification and diversification of the Mediterranean wine trade. Specific pottery amphoras called “Massaliettes” (Fig. 7.1) were produced locally. At first, Massaliettes were no more common than Greek and Etruscan imports, but later their numbers increased, indicating greater local production of wine (Laubenheimer 1990). A virtual monopoly of the French wine trade was achieved by Marseilles during the 5th and 4th century B.C.

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