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
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:
||P8078 Heavy orange coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface.
Double line raised stamp in rectangular cartouche: MELIPOLLI/VANVS . F
||P8079 Heavy orange coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface, small white
Stamp type similar to P8078; AMPLIATVS/ CL . CLADI .
||P8080 Red orange coarse ware, gritty hard fabric, white inclusions.
Stamp exactly as P8079; AMPLIATVS/CL . CLADI .
||P8081 Yellow buff coarse ware, smoothed exterior surface, small black
and white inclusions.
||P8084 Hard pink fairly fine fabric, fairly smooth exterior surface.
||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.
||P8087 Heavy orange coarse fabric, smoothed exterior, small black and white
||P8088 Red orange coarse fabric, pale yellow buff slip.
Rather short neck.
||P8090 Hard yellow orange coarse fabric, smoothed exterior surface, grog.
B. Base of a hollow-based amphora, Dressel 7/11:
||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
Large body sherds, including shallow pointed base.
C. Base of an amphora of form Plichet 47, Gaulish provenance very likely:
||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
D. Amphora of form Plichet 47/Ostia V, non-Gaulish fabric, provenance uncertain:
||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:
||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,
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,
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:
||P8079 AMPLIATV(/CL . CLADI .
||P8080 AMPLIATVS/CL . C( )ADI
||P8078( )MEPOLLI/VANVS . F
||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:
Our persons are likely to be of the highest status.
||Claudius Claudianus, dominus
||Ampliatus, his officinator
||Cornelius Pollio, dominus
||Sitranus his officinator
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
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.
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.
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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,
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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,
17. Setala, Paivi, 1977, Private Domini in Roman Brick Stamps of the Empire,
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
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.
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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.
University of Ottawa
March 10, 1986