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Pottery and trade at Euesperides in Cyrenaica: An overview

Journal article
Authors E. Zimi
Kristian Göransson
K. Swift
Published in Libyan Studies
Volume 50
Pages 21-33
ISSN 0263-7189
Publication year 2019
Published at
Pages 21-33
Language en
Subject categories Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Archaeology, classical, African and comparative archaeology, Economic History


Copyright © 2019 The Society for Libyan Studies. The excavations conducted at Euesperides between 1999 and 2007 under the auspices of the Society for Libyan Studies, London, and the Department of Antiquities, Libya, and jointly directed by Paul Bennet and Andrew Wilson, brought to light private houses and a building complex, industrial areas related to purple dye production and part of the city's fortification wall. Among the finds was a highly significant body of local, regional and imported pottery (from the Greek and Punic world, Cyprus, Italy and elsewhere), dated between the last quarter of the seventh and the middle of the third century BC, when the city was abandoned. This archaeological project adopted an innovative approach to the study of pottery from the site, based on the total quantification of the coarse, fine wares and transport amphorae. This was supplemented by a targeted programme of petrographic analysis to shed light on production centres and thus questions about the trade and the economy of ancient Euesperides. The pottery study by K. Göransson, K. Swift and E. Zimi demonstrated that although the city gradually developed a significant industry of ceramics, it relied heavily on imports to cover its needs and that imported pottery reached Euesperides' sheltered harbour either directly from the supplying regions or most often through complex maritime networks in the Mediterranean which changed over time. Cooking pots from Aegina and the Punic world, mortaria, bowls, jugs and table amphorae from Corinth as well as transport amphorae from various centres containing olive oil, wine, processed meat and fish were transported to the city from Greece, Italy/Sicily, Cyprus and elsewhere. The so-called amphorae B formed the majority, while Corinthian, Aegean (Thasian, Mendean, Knidian, etc.), Greco-Italic and Punic were adequatly represented. Regarding fine wares, East Greek, Laconian and Corinthian are common until the end of the sixth century; Attic black-glazed, and to a lesser extend, black-figure and red-figure pots dominate the assemblages between the fifth and the mid-third centuries BC, while Corinthian, Italian/Sicilian and Punic seem to have been following the commodities flow at Euesperides from the fourth century BC onwards. Finally, Cyrenaican pottery and transport amphorae have been also identified at Euesperides implying a considerable volume of inter-regional trade.

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