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Late Stamped Dressel 2/4 Amphoras
from a Deposit Dated post 200 A.D.
at Villa Site 10 on the Via Gabina, near Rome

In the summer of 1985, a deposit of thirteen amphoras was found in a destruction context pit (G10/85 AA 22 D 6) in an industrial area just outside the peristyle of the villa at Site 10 on the Via Gabina (site numbers for the Via Gabina are adopted from the report of the survey by Kahane and WardPerkins, 1972).

The destruction of the Site 10 villa has a terminus ante quem of 235-238 A.D., set by the find in 1981 of two coins (G10/81.59 and G10/81.60, BB 12 X 4) in burned destruction rubble immediately above an east-west wall of the villa which was razed where it approached the line of the north-south wall of the later horreum. The horreum was subsequently built above the demolished wall and directly over the two coins. One of these coins dates to the reign of Alexander Severus, c. 230 A.D.; the other dates to the reign of Maximinus, 235-238 A.D. As the destruction of the villa may have been a process which took place over a number of years, the date of the later coin should perhaps be regarded as a chronological reference point, rather than a fixed terminus.

The pit in which the amphoras were found was evidently formed by the robbing out of a dolium, which also ties the deposit closely to the destruction of the villa. The pit was subsequently filled in with the sherds of the thirteen amphoras and incidentally with a number of other pottery sherds. The amphoras were very broken up, but unrelated pieces were few, and while only three amphoras can be completely or nearly completely restored, there are nevertheless very few sherds which do not join to form one of the thirteen amphoras. These facts suggest that thirteen amphoras in the immediately adjacent area were deliberately broken up and pushed into the pit as fill. At the time of the destruction of the site, the amphoras had possibly been in recent use, but were already broken and therefore not worth removing.

All the sherds in the pit were uniformly covered with grey ashy soil. After careful cleaning, first with water and then with a very dilute solution (.05) of hydrochloric acid, none of the sherds themselves show any sign of burning. The ashy soil suggests, however, that they were all burned in an open bonfire before being swept or dumped into the pit.

The amphoras themselves are as follows:

A. Nine examples of Dressel 2/4, varying in profile, but generally closest to Dressel 2:

amphora_p8078 1. P8078 Heavy orange coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface.
Double line raised stamp in rectangular cartouche: MELIPOLLI/VANVS . F
amphora_p80792. P8079 Heavy orange coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface, small white inclusions.
Stamp type similar to P8078; AMPLIATVS/ CL . CLADI .
amphora_p80803. P8080 Red orange coarse ware, gritty hard fabric, white inclusions.
Stamp exactly as P8079; AMPLIATVS/CL . CLADI .
amphora_p80814. P8081 Yellow buff coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface, small black and white inclusions.
amphora_p80845. P8084 Hard pink fairly fine fabric, fairly smooth exterior surface.
amphora_p80856. P8085 Hard red gritty coarse ware, darker mottled red to black exterior surface, uniform small
black and white inclusions.
Near complete. Handle angle markedly square.
amphora_p8087 7. P8087 Heavy orange coarse fabric, smoothed exterior, small black and white inclusions.
amphora_p80888. P8088 Red orange coarse fabric, pale yellow buff slip.
Rather short neck.
9. P8090 Hard yellow orange coarse fabric, smoothed exterior surface, grog.
Near complete

B. Base of a hollow-based amphora, Dressel 7/11:

10. P8089 Grey buff coarse thick-walled fabric, roughly wet-smoothed surface, hard-fired; the very
rough surface suggests that the amphora was finished while the clay was still very wet.
Large body sherds, including shallow pointed base.

C. Base of an amphora of form Plichet 47, Gaulish provenance very likely:

11. P8086 Compact fine greenish cream fabric, shattered surfaces.
The narrow base and flaring lower wall have had a total of five holes cut out with a pick.
Such a reuse of small coarse ware pots (as 'plant pots'?) is typical of the late second century A.D. at Sites 10 and 11 on the Via Gabina. I have also seen it in second century. A.D. contexts at both San Giovanni di Ruoti (Potenza) and at Carthage. This is the first amphora I have seen, treated in this way.

D. Amphora of form Plichet 47/Ostia V, non-Gaulish fabric, provenance uncertain:
amphora_p808212. P8082 Red coarse ware fabric with a variety of inclusions, including rounded medium to large red black hematite pebbles, cream slipped exterior.
This amphora is so similar in form and fabric description to amphora type 'Ostia V' (Panella, 1973, pp. 600-605) that it should be regarded either as identical to it or as an imitation of that specific type; it is more likely to be a local imitation because the same range of inclusions appears in the most common coarse ware of the first and second centuries A.D. at Via Gabina Sites 10 and 11.

E. Broad shoulder of amphora of uncertain form, possibly similar to D, above:
amphora_p808313. P8083 Fabric and slip as P8082, shoulder gently rilled.
Dipinto KO in red paint on shoulder.

Other ceramic material found in this pit includes two rims of Hayes' African Red Slip coarse ware Form 197 casserole and wall sherds of lid Form 196 (Hayes, 1972, pp. 208-209); a good example of the wide-mouthed jar with wide horizontal rim in a coarse ware characteristic of the Via Gabina Sites 11 and 10 in contexts of the first and second centuries A.D.; it is visually similar to coarse ware excavated near the Porta Pia in Rome (the British embassy site excavation was reported briefly by Ward-Perkins, 1970, p. 189; the similarity between the coarse wares there and those at the Via Gabina was pointed out to me by J. W. Hayes, pers. comm.); three lids in the same coarse ware, two with rims rounded on the upper side, the third with an S-shaped rim profile; and wall sherds of a pale cream plain ware globular pot with rounded ridges on the wall. The local fabric is a hard reddish brown (2.5 YR 4/6 to 5/8) coarse ware with pimply wet-smoothed surfaces and a distinctive range of inclusions: small angular quartz and white calcareous inclusions, rounded dark red brown iron oxide nodules up to 2 mm in diameter, orange grog and occasional minute mica.

All these pieces are typical of destruction contexts at Site 10 on the Via Gabina and indicate a date in the late second to early third century A.D.

It is impossible to suggest a close date for the Dressel 7/11 Spanish amphora. It dates within the wide confines for the type, from the early first to the mid third century A.D. (reference missing).

The Gaulish Plichet 47 amphora is dated to the first, second and third centuries A.D. with little typological change (Panella, 1973, 'Ostia LX', pp. 544 and 622). The Mauretanian version of the same form identified by Panella ('Ostia V') does not appear before the beginning of the third century A.D. and seems to be typical of that century (Panella, 1973, p. 603). Amphora types 'D' and 'E' (nos. 12 and 13) either belong to this type or imitate it, and therefore should not date earlier than the early third century A.D., the likely date of the deposit itself.

The Dressel 2/4 amphoras appear in more than one fabric, although the great variation in colour is not necessarily significant. None of the fabrics fit the description of Campanian or Spanish fabrics which have been defined (Tchernia and Zevi, 1972, pp. 37-40; Panella and Fano, 1977, pp. 133-177: examples of the forms in the defined Spanish and Campanian fabrics have been excavated at Site 11 on the Via Gabina). I see no reason to suggest that the Dressel 2/4 amphoras from this deposit are not made in the area of Rome. As I have noted above, the Via Gabina amphoras of form. 'Ostia V' have inclusions similar to those in a coarse ware with a common local distribution, which suggests but does not prove local manufacture.

The destruction context pit and the African Red Slip suggest that the material was deposited in the first half of the third century A.D. The argument that this may date the material in the context is strongly opposed by the weight of contemporary evidence that the latest date of the Dressel 2/4 amphora falls in the first half of the second century A.D. (Panella, 1973, p. 499, arguing from her own and other sites; Tchernia and Zevi, 1972, p. 55, from statistical evidence for the Casa delle Pareti Gialle at Ostia). The latest known dated amphora in Dressel Form 2/4, an amphora described by Dressel as 'forma 3 similis' bearing a titulus pictus with the consular date 146 A.D. (CIL XV, 2, 4585) has generally been discounted from the dating argument because of Dressel's uncertain form identification and because there is no other support for the appearance of the form so late (Zevi, 1968, p. 215).

I would therefore have been influenced to accept the possibility that the Dressel 2/4 amphoras from this destruction deposit at Site 10 were most likely as much as one hundred year old relics of earlier times, despite the contrary evidence of the clear deposit date and the consistency of the deposited material, if it were not for the additional evidence of the amphora stamps.

In this deposit there are three anomalous amphora stamps. All of them are double line binominal stamps in flat raised letters inside a rectangular cartouche. An additional example of this stamp type was found on a neck sherd of an amphora excavated in a destruction context inside the area of the peristyle of the Site 10 villa in 1981 (G10/81, BB 20 South Z 5, P4103).

The style of the lettering of these amphora stamps is identical to that on brick stamps of the doliare urbane in the second century A.D.; examples of such brick and tile stamps are common at Via Gabina Sites 10 and 11. The raised letters on the Site 10 amphora stamps are squarish with wedge-shaped arms: in his discussion of brick and tile stamps, Dressel suggested a date earlier in the second century A.D. for relatively tall and narrow letters such as those of P8078/P4103, and a date in the second half of the second for the squarer letters of P8079/P8080 (Dressel, CIL XV, 1, p. 2.).

The epigraphic evidence from these four amphoras is as follows:

A. 1. P8079 AMPLIATV(/CL . CLADI .
  2. P8080 AMPLIATVS/CL . C( )ADI
B. 1. P8078( )MEPOLLI/VANVS . F
  2. P4103( )IELIPO(/LVANV( )

The generally accepted interpretation that binominal stamps on bricks refer to a dominus (a landowner of aristocratic, usually senatorial, status) and an officinator (producer of the opus doliare, whether freeman, freedman or slave) (Setälä, 1977, pp. 13-16) is clearly applicable to the Via Gabina amphora stamps, which I read as naming four persons:

1. Claudius Claudianus, dominus
2. Ampliatus, his officinator
3. Cornelius Pollio, dominus
4. Sitranus his officinator
Our persons are likely to be of the highest status.

The two domini are attested in various sources. Tiberius Claudius Claudianus (PIR2 834), by origin probably an eques from Numidia (Stein, 1963, pp. 319-320, n. 5, is cautious on these points), was praetorian governor of Pannonia Inferior from February, 197 to 199 A.D. (A.E. 1960, 57), note), at the time when Septimius Severus was acclaimed emperor by his troops in the neighboring province of Pannonia Superior. Claudius Claudianus was quick to lend his support, and along with other governors who supported Severus at this crucial moment, received due recompense in his subsequent career (Whittaker, 1969, pp. 204-205, n. 2; Graham, 1974, p. 148; against Stein, 1963, p. 287, n. 1, who suggested that Claudianus was favored because of his African origins). He became consul suffectus or was adlected inter consulares in 199 (or 200) A.D. and subsequently held the consular post of legate of Pannonia Superior (Degrassi, 1952, c. 199, p. 56; Barbieri, 1952, pp. 13-14, 37-38; for his career in terms of Pannonia, see Dobo, 1968, passim).

At least twelve inscriptions referring directly or indirectly to Claudianus are known. This is a high number, as on the average senators are attested in only two to three inscriptions (Setala, 1977, p. 25). These include his cursus honorum (CIL VIII 5349 = I.L.Alg. I. 279, Calama/Guelma, Numidia; for a recent discussion, see A.E. 1977, 256); and inscriptions referring to his wife (CIL VIII 7977 = ILS 1146) and to his sister (CIL VIII 7978 = ILS 1147), both of which were found at Rusicade in Numidia. A dedication to Diana Nemorensis at Narona/Viddo in Dalmatia by a Tiberius Claudius Claudianus, as prefect of the coh(ors) I Bracar(anorum) August(anorum) is believed to be evidence for the early career of the same man (CIL III, 1, 1773 = ILS 3245).

Three inscriptions commemorate building projects with which he was involved. As prefect of the cohors II Alpinorum, he was in charge of the construction of a temple to Iuppiter Optimus Maximus at Dunabogdany/Cirpi, Pannonia Inferior, under the provincial legate Prastina Messalinus (179/180-183 A.D., A.E. 1982, 798, pp. 212-213). As legionary legate he supervised the construction at Potaissa in Dacia of a building which was a gift from Septimius Severus to the legio V Macedonica in 195 A.D. (the building was dedicated by Septimius Geta, then legate of the province of Dacia, CIL III, 1, 905). As praetorian legate of the province of Pannonia Inferior he built a new praesidium in a new location in the period 194-197 A. D. (CIL III, 1, 3387, Matrica, Pannonia Inferior). A fourth inscription (A.E. 1973, 437 bis)) records the construction of a temple to Sol Elagabalus by five singulares on his staff selected from the cohors I milliaria Antonina Hemesenorum, at the expense of the cohort, but, one imagines, with the full practical support of Claudianus.

He is named on four milestones from that province (CIL III, 1, 3745, Buda, measured from Aquincum, 198 A.D.; CIL III Supplement 10616, measured from Sirmium, 198 A.D.; Kuzsinszky, Aquincum 1934, p. 192, no. 500, measured from Aquincum, as 'leg. Augg. pr. pr., that is, not before 198 A.D.; A.E. 1969/1970, 528), Racalmas, measured from Aquincum, m. p. XLIII, 198 A.D.).

His cursus honorum allows us to fill in more of his career: he held the post of praetor tutelarius, probably as candidatus Augusti, in 193 A.D. (Fitz, 1961, p. x); was legionary legate of the legio I Adiutrix, the legio V Macedonica, and the legio XIII Gemina. As he held the post praepositus vexillationum Daciiscarum (sic), he may have headed vexillationes of the two latter legions rather than necessarily held all these legionary commands separately; this would make sense of his presence in Dacia with the legio V Macedonica in 195 A.D., while avoiding the problematic question of which of the two legions he was commanding at the time (Fitz suggests he held this post 193-196 A.D., A.E. 1964, 105), note; I. Piso, A. E. 1977, 858, note; see notes to CIL III, 1, 905 and 3387). He also eventually held the priestly appointments of sacerdos septem vir epulonum and sacerdos Laurentium Lavinatium. Associations with Diana, Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, Sol Elagabalus and aspects of Roman state religion suggest a tolerant religious eclecticism, which evidently served him well.

Ampliatus, the officinator of Claudius Claudianus, bears a name which was very common in the first and second centuries A.D. (Kajanto, 1965, p. 349; Solin, 1977, p. 107). The officinator of Cornelius Pollio is designated SILVANUS, a common cognomen.

All the evidence taken together forms a very convincing case for the argument that Tiberius Claudius Claudianus and Cornelius Pollio, once they had achieved consular status, acquired estates in the clay-supplied brickproducing regions along the line of the Tiber bed (Setala, 1977, p. 19, referring to the researches of Huotari; estate ownership in Italy had been a requirement for all Roman senators since the reign of Trajan). Both had officinatores who produced Dressel 2/4 amphoras, no doubt for the sake of the storage and transport of wine grown on the estates. These officinatores clearly agreed on the proper form for a wine amphora, even though their model is generally believed to be a century out of date, and they also agreed on the proper format and positioning of an amphora stamp.

The date of their activity must be ascribed to the mid 2nd (for Cornelius Pollio) and the early 3rd Cs A. D. This means that Claudianus had the discretion to survive the troubled years of the reigns of Caracalla, Macrinus and Elagabalus (211-222 A.D.); he may have done so by maintaining a low profile (he is not listed among the amici of Severus and Caracalla assembled by Crook, 1955, pp. 84-85, nor in Crook's "Prosopographical Index", pp. 148-190; see also Alfoldy, 1968, p. 149).

The stamps of Claudianus are complete. A complete stamp of Pollio has been excavated at Cyprus in a context of the second century A.D. (in Yves Calvet, Salamine de Chypres, III, Les timbres amphoriques, Paris, 1972, no. 111, fig. 121; Daniele Manacorda kindly drew this to my attention).

In his discussion of brick stamps, Dressel suggested a date in the first half of the second century A.D. for tall letters such as those on the stamp of Pollio, as opposed to a date in the second half for squarer letters such as those on the stamp of Claudianus (CIL XV, 1, p. 2).

I have found the combination of the gentilicium Cornelius with the cognomen Pollio only in the name of the polyonymous C. Iavolenus Calvinus Geminius Capito Cornelius Pollio Squilla Q. Vulcacius Scuppidius Verus (PIR2 I 13). This Iavolenus, a consular in the reign of Antoninus Pius, is likely the grandson of the famous jurist, Iavolenus Priscus. The inscription which names him, CIL XIV 2499, was found in the ager Tusculanus, within ten kilometers of Via Gabina Site 10.

A senatorial Tiberius Claudius Claudianus (PIR2 C 834) has left at least twelve inscriptions. From equestrian stock, he was governor of Pannonia Inferior when Septimius Severus was acclaimed emperor in Pannonia Superior. He became consul suffectus or was adlected inter consulares in 199 (or 200) A.D. and was subsequently legate of Pannonia Superior.

The dated deposit, the stamps with their ties to the Roman brick factories, and the consular persons likely identified by them prove that the Dressel 2/4 wine amphora continued to be produced in the area of Rome in the second half of the second and into the early third century A.D. This date is a century later than the generally accepted date for the end of the form.

Joann Freed
U. of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
Sept. 22, 1986


1. Alfoldy, Geza, 1968, "Septimius Severus and der Senat", Bonner Jahrbucher CLXVIII, 112-160.

2. Barbieri, G., 1952, "Aspetti della politica di Settimio Severo", Epigraphica XIV, pp. 3-48.

3. Crook, John, 1955, Consilium Principis: Imperial Councils and Counsellors from Augustus to Diocletian, Cambridge.

4. Degrassi, Attilio, 1952, I Fasti Consolari dell'impero romano dal 30 avanti Cristo al 613 dopo Cristo, Roma.

5. Dobo, Arpad, 1968, Die Verwaltung der romischen Provinz Pannonien von Augustus bis Diocletianus: Die Provinziale Verwaltung, Amsterdam.

6. Domaszewski, A. von, 1967, 2nd ed., ed. Brian Dobson, Die Rangordnung des romischen Heeres, Cologne.

7. Dressel, Heinrich, 1891-1899, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum: Inscriptiones Urbis Romae Latinae: Instrumentum Domesticum, XV, vols. 1 and 2, Berlin.

8. Fitz, Jeno, 1977, "Onomastique Pannonienne: La population de la Pannonie sous 1'aspect de 1'onomastique et de 1'archeologie", pp. 395-402 in L'Onomastique Latine, Colloques Internationaux du Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

9. Fitz, Jeno, 1961, "Prosopographica Pannoniea", Epigraphica, XXXIII (1961), pp. 66-94.

10. Graham, A. J., 1974, "The Limitations of Prosopography in Roman Imperial History (with special reference to the Severan Period)", Aufstieg and Niedergang, II, 1, pp. 136-157.

11. Hayes, J. W., 1972, Late Roman Pottery, London.

12. Kahane, Anne and John Ward-Perkins, 1972, "The Via Gabina", Papers of the British School at Rome, pp. 91-126 and pls. XVIII-XXI.

13. Kajanto, Iiro, 1965, The Latin Cognomina, Helsinki.

14. Panella, Clementina, and Marco Fano, 1977, "Le anfore con anse bifide conservate a Pompeii", Méthodes Classiques et Méthodes Formelles dans d'Etude des Amphores, (Actes du Colloque de Rome, 27-29 Mai 1974), Ecole Francaise de Rome.

15.1973, "Anfore", pp. 463-633, Ostia III: Le Terme del Nuotatore: Scavo degli ambienti III, VI and VII; Scavo dell'ambiente V e di un saggio nell'area SO, Studi Miscellanei 21, 2 vols.

16. Pavel, Oliva, 1967, Pannonia and the Onset of Crisis in the Roman Empire, Chicago.

17. Setala, Paivi, 1977, Private Domini in Roman Brick Stamps of the Empire, Helsinki.

18. Solin, Heikki, 1977, "Die Innere Chronologie des Romischen Cognomens", pp. 103-146 in L'Onomastique Latine, Colloques Internationaux du Centre Nationale de Recherches Scientifiques, 13-15 Octobre, 1975, no. 564, Paris.

19. Stein, Arthur, 1963, Der Romische Ritterstand: Ein Beitrag zur Sozialand Personengeschichte des Romischen Reiches, Munich.

20. Steinby, Margareta, 1977, "La cronologia delle "figlinae" doliari urbane dalla fine dell'eta repubblicana fino all'inizio dell III. secolo", Bullettino della Commissione Archeologico della Comune di Roma LXXXIV (1974-75), Roma.

21. Tchernia, A. and F. Zevi, 1972, "Amphores de Campanie et de Tarraconaise vinaires a Ostie", pp. 35-67, Recherches _sur _les Amphores Romaines, Supplement X to Mélanges de L'Ecoles Francaises de Rome.

22. Ward-Perkins, John, 1970, "British Archaeology Abroad, 1969: Report of the British School at Rome", Antiquity XLIV, pp. 187-189.

23. Whittaker, C. R., 1969-1970, transl. and ed., Herodian, Loeb ed., vols. I-II, Cambridge, Mass. and London.

24. Zevi, Fausto, 1966, "Appunti sulle anfore romane, I., La tavola tipologica del Dressel", pp. 208-247, Archeologia Classica 18.

Joann Freed
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario
March 10, 1986


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