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The ancient Mediterranean trade in ceramic building material: A case study in Carthage and Beirut

By Philip John Edward Mills


This thesis examines the evidence for, and extent of, long-range trade in ceramic building material (CBM) in the ancient Mediterranean. It considers how it may have been used in the development of the urban form and cultural identity, particularly in the ancient city. CBM is currently an underutilised resource, which can be present in large quantities on archaeological sites. A methodology for the excavation, sampling and study of CBM is proposed in order to maximise its contribution to knowledge about the ancient economy and cultural identity. The data for this thesis are derived from the stratigraphic, taphonomic and petrological analysis of assemblages of CBM recovered from sites in Carthage and Beirut, covering the period from the third century BC until the seventh century AD. The information from the assemblages is used to create a cultural biography, that is a model of its use life, for CBM in the two cities.\ud The volume of imported CBM during the early Roman colonisation of Carthage, and throughout the periods examined in Beirut, was much greater than would be expected under the consumer city model. It is suggested that the main supply of roof tile to Beirut, and the coastal Levant, was part of a proto-industrial level of supply in specialist large ceramic objects (also including coffins, basins, dolia and amphorae) from Rough Cilicia. In Carthage, CBM, especially roof tile, were used as a means of expressing an Italian cultural identity, but that supply was affected by the growth of the Imperial monopoly on CBM production in the Italian mainland in the second century.\ud In Beirut the different ranges in roof tile forms and colours were used to express Hellenistic and Italian cultural identities and also, at specific periods, of controlling aspects of the urban environment

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2005
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