The wine trade and southern imports

From the middle of the second century bc, southern imports, probably linked to the trade in Italian wine, once again make their appearance in north-alpine Europe (Figure 10.2). While it may be true (Fitzpatrick, 1985, 317) that North-Western Europe 'never constituted a market (in the technical sense) for Roman goods' in the period prior to the conquest of Gaul, nevertheless the archaeological distribution of amphorae (Figure 10.2A) affords striking testimony to the extent of the demand for Mediterranean wine and the luxury goods associated with it throughout the Celtic world. The principal types of amphorae involved are those classed as Dressel IA and Dressel IB, though other closely related types may have been on occasion confused within this classification. The Dressel IA type, characterized by its short, fairly fat, spindle-like shape with triangular rim, came into circulation around or before the mid-second century, being found crucially at Carthage in contexts earlier than 146 bc. It lasted in circulation until around 70 bc, when it was superseded by Type IB, which was taller and slimmer, with a higher, collar-like rim. By the Augustan period, this too was being replaced by Type II and later amphorae. The chronology is not absolutely secure, but it is at least clear that there is no direct correlation in north-alpine Europe with the transition to La Tene 3 or D, which is marked by the appearance of new diagnostic brooches and other material types.

The distribution of Dressel I amphorae once seemed to show a concentration around the Atlantic trade routes, but, as research fills out the distribution, much of north-alpine Europe west of the Rhine is fairly densely represented. The non-Celtic Germanic world, however, still seems largely devoid of find-spots, those from the lower Rhine being relatively late, from Roman military sites. They occur both in burials and in major excavated settlements and oppida in substantial numbers, over a hundred being represented at Villeneuve-Saint-Germain or at the Titelberg, for example, with significant numbers also at Manching and the Basel settlements. Their apparent scarcity further east, in the oppida of Bohemia and Moravia, for instance, where other items of the Campanian drinking service were present, led Wells to suggest that the trade to eastern Central Europe was dependent upon wooden barrels or leather containers, more suited to overland transport in wagons. But, as in the case of the late Hallstatt period, we may question whether individual items of imported drinking service necessarily mean that local elites were drinking imported wine rather than local brews.

Imported bronze vessels (Figure 10.2B), produced in Italic, probably Campanian workshops, do not appear north of the Alps until the end of the second century. The principal types are flagons, pans, sieves, handled tankards (kyanthoi), ladles and bowls. The distribution of these types is instructive, by comparison with the distribution of Italic imports of the late Hallstatt and early La Tene periods. With the exception of the handled cups and ladles, which do not extend much beyond the Danube, the late La Tene distribution is remarkably extensive, penetrating into south-eastern Britain and well beyond the territorial boundaries of Celtic communities into Germanic Northern Europe. Though there are small clusters in the distribution, there is no evidence to compare with the suggestion that early La Tene chieftains had their own favoured supplier of exotic goods, nor is there evidence that these imports were copied, adapted or imitated in pottery as they were in the earlier period.

Among these bronze imports, flagons have attracted particular attention. Werner

Dressel Distribution
Figure 10.2 Trans-alpine trade in the late La Tene period: A: distribution of Late Republican Dressel I amphorae, adapted from Peacock (1971) and Fitzpatrick (1985). B: distribution of late La Tene jugs and pans, adapted from Werner (1978).

(1978) identified two types, his Kappel-Kelheim and Ornavasso-Kaerumgaard variants, which he regarded as chronologically successive, if overlapping in their currency in the mid-first century bc. The Kappel-Kelheim type probably first appeared at the end of the second century, while examples of the Ornavasso-Kaerumgaard type on the fringes of the distribution, including those from Britain, are likely to date from the Augustan period or later. High-status goods of this kind could easily have been handed down through several generations before finally being interred in the burials in which they were found.

The cemetery sequence at Ornavasso by Lake Maggiore is important in establishing the currency of these vessels and their associations. The two adjacent cemeteries of San Bernado and Persona, excavated in the 1890s, appear to span between them the period from the middle La Tene to the early Roman Empire. On the basis of grave associations, including some Republican coins, Graue (1974) calculated that his Group 2 at Ornavasso, in which the wine service first appeared, could be assigned broadly to the period 90-50 bc. Associated grave-goods included the so-called vasi a trotolla, which had appeared first in the preceding phase, and various brooches, notably of Nauheim, Stradonice and spoon-bow types. Some of the key graves containing flagons at Ornavasso, however, illustrate the problems posed by these associations, suggesting that some items must have been in circulation for a prolonged period before being deposited. Shallow, handled pans that are known after the type-site at Aylesford in Kent actually occur in significantly greater numbers than the flagons. Their distribution includes, for example, a concentration in the middle Rhine, where the flagons are notably absent, challenging the assumption that they were part of a complementary wine service.

At the end of the first century bc, the Italic imported wine-service changes significantly with the appearance of a new range of flagons, bowls, pans and ladles, still fulfilling essentially the same purpose, but by now in the distinctive style of the early Roman Empire. Late La Tene types are still present in the Goeblingen-Nospelt graves in Luxembourg, dated to around 20-10 bc, and even the military establishment at Dangstetten (15-10 bc) has only late La Tene types. But the new forms appeared in the Roman military sites of Haltern, occupied from 11 bc to ad 9, and AugsburgOberhausen, dated to 10 bc to ad 16. The change is thus quite rapid, marking also a significant change in clientele.

Throughout the first century bc, when north-alpine Europe was enjoying once again the benefits of southern comforts, we must ask the question, what was being reciprocated? Wells has argued strongly for the production and export of iron from sites like Kelheim (1993), and certainly, before the military annexation of the sources of supply, there is every reason to believe that iron products would have been in demand. If the quantities referred to in graffiti in the cellars at the Magdalensberg in Austria, relating to trade at the end of the first century bc or early first century ad with merchants from the head of the Adriatic, are any indication of the scale of production during the previous century, then it was on a substantial industrial scale. As we have seen, any calculation of the number of iron spikes used in the construction of murus gallicus-type ramparts around the major oppida would certainly endorse that conclusion. Another probable export in return for Roman goods was slaves; while slave chains are not extensively recorded archaeologically, Roman writers certainly suggest that slaves were a regular part of the equation in barter.

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