2. Definitions of Pompeian Retail Space

2.1 From convenience to convention

2.1.1 The Kleberg study

Tönnes Kleberg produced the first major study of Pompeii's retailing and hospitality establishments in the mid 20th century, providing the basis for all subsequent studies (Kleberg 1957). Rather than being an archaeological treatise of their surviving remains or their various types, his book centred primarily on the names by which many of the retail outlets at Pompeii are now known, and what we can know of each through an assessment of these labels from the ancient literature. His was a typology of Pompeian buildings defined not by their archaeology, but by the 'sens' of how their labels, attached to them by archaeologists upon discovery, were used in their written form (Kleberg 1957, 20). This marriage of the literature with archaeological evidence has a long - if not always happy - history in classical and, especially, Pompeian archaeology (see Allison 1999, 59-65). As early as the mid-18th century, Berardo Galiani chose Vitruvius' ten books on architecture as a means for explaining and forming a better understanding of the architecture being uncovered at nearby Herculaneum (Galiani 1758). For past generations of historians, such as Becker and Mau, the faithful following of Vitruvius to enlighten their understanding of Roman houses seemed to them obvious and uncomplicated; here was an architectural manual which listed the names of rooms and spaces about the Roman house so that all that remained was to equate these with the archaeological record (Becker 1876; Mau 1907). James Anderson recently reminded us of the continued faith in this code when he argued that '[h]ouses from Pompeii and Herculaneum illuminate [Vitruvian] descriptions' (Anderson 1997, 289; cf. Allison 2001a, 188).

For Kleberg, however, there existed no Vitruvian architectural manual for the retail outlets of the Roman world. His search for labels and meanings instead relied on oblique textual analogy to a much broader record of social commentary. Kleberg's was a study of the most common labels that the earliest excavators had applied to retail outlets upon their discovery: tabernae, popinae, cauponae, and thermopolia. While Kleberg was the first to scrutinise the meanings of these Latin words, his focus was on their etymology and semantics rather than on the appropriateness of their use in defining building types and activities in Pompeii. He also relied unquestioningly on the glossaries of Daremberg and Saglio (1877-1919) and von Pauly and Wissowa (1894-1980), considering their descriptions of Latin words as primary archaeological evidence. Kleberg never explicitly outlined his methodology or justification for correlating the archaeological data with the literary, apart from his concession that: 'Certes ici les sources purement littéraires font complètement défaut. Mais l'originalité de Pompéi, c'est que, plus que toute autre ville, elle permet, grâce à la richesse de ses données archéologiques et épigraphiques, de determiner le nombre des locaux en question, leur caractère et leur groupement, nous donnant ainsi une image concrete de ce que nous cherchons' (Kleberg 1957, 49).

What follows is not merely a disapproving review of a now 50-year-old study. After all, his was a pioneering study that has illuminated our understanding of the usage in antiquity of Latin words associated with retailing and hospitality. This article is instead a critique of the subsequent (mis)use of Kleberg's study by others as if it were the actual primary Pompeian data. It also assesses how archaeological interpretations and ideas can merge with primary data to the point that one form of information is seemingly indistinguishable from the other. Kleberg's influence on this aspect of the study of the Pompeian fabric is enormous. Every significant contribution to the types of Pompeian retail outlets has built on his literature-based classifications, and his survey now functions as the accepted typology for the variously identified food and drink outlets at Pompeii with tabernae considered, very generally, as shops and taverns; cauponae as restaurants and hotels; popinae as restaurants and bars; and thermopolia as bars (Kleberg 1957, on tabernae: 19-23; on cauponae: 1-6; on popinae: 16-18; on thermopolia: 24-25; following Kleberg: see Ruddell 1964; Packer 1978; Gulino 1987; DeFelice 2001; for the application of Kleberg's typology classifications at Ostia: see Hermansen 1981, 191-5).

Before demonstrating how Kleberg's interpretations have become a type of legacy data, and before highlighting the inherent dangers of using these 'data' as though they are primary evidence, it is first necessary to test the validity of the marriage between these ancient terms and the archaeological record by scouring the ancient texts for any mentionable physical characteristics that might have defined one labelled retail outlet from another in antiquity. To do so I surveyed every occurrence of each term in the Packhard Humanities Institute Latin Database (for a similar approach to Latin terms for spaces in Pompeian houses, see Leach 1997). This computer software package lists almost every known Latin passage (excluding epigraphic evidence) through to the 2nd century AD, as well as several later works such as the important Digesta Iustiniani of Justinian, which, although of the 6th century AD, draws from 2nd- and 3rd-century AD works. I hoped that a reading of these terms, in their literary context, might shed some light on any particular structural forms or the activities associated with them and, importantly, determine if any reference was made among the texts to physical characteristics that might be detectable in the archaeological record. Of the c. 500 passages that were returned, 174 retained some vaguely meaningful reference to activity. What is most significant, however, is that none of the passages make any mention of a physical characteristic associated with any of the labels. The activities carried out in each type are also no help in understanding the Pompeian material better, as none of these can be easily recognised in the archaeological record. The use of the word thermopolium to label an excavated building and its activities proves to be especially dubious and misleading, yet its application to spaces in Pompeii has a long tradition. That the texts of Plautus were ransacked for this label is certain: the comedian offers, astonishingly, the only known examples of its use in ancient literature and, what is more, the term is found only three times among his surviving plays. Plautus used the term to refer to the consumption of a warm drink, but gives us no clues as to what these drinks were, or in what specific places they might have been consumed. Even so, some 109 properties are labelled, and so 'interpreted', as a thermopolium at Pompeii alone, such as the property at VI.10.1, which August Mau confidently informed us that '[i]n view of the provision for heating water, we are safe in calling this a thermopolium, a wineshop which made a speciality of furnishing hot drinks' (Mau 1907, 394).

The Pompeian epigraphic record could potentially enlighten us on the language spoken by the city's inhabitants, and particularly whether Pompeians used such terms to define and describe their various types of retail establishments. The Latin terms that are used among the literary sources to describe retail outlets are, however, rarely found in the Pompeian epigraphic record. Where they do exist - for example tabernae, hospitium, and copo - considerable effort has been expended on incorporating them into our understanding of the city (Della Corte 1927; 1965; Pirson 1997; 1999; also cf. Allison 2001b for approaches to Pompeian epigraphy). In the Pompeian graffiti the most commonly found Latin term does not refer specifically to a bar, but instead to what has been interpreted as a 'barkeeper' or 'innkeeper': the caupo or copo. These types of graffiti are scribbled over the walls of houses, shops, and public monuments and are usually ineffectual for reconciling the subject with the place. Even so, Matteo Della Corte aroused great scholarly interest in repopulating Pompeii through his study of the various Pompeian programmata which enabled him 'to locate beyond a doubt the houses, shops, workshops, etc. of 520 Pompeians' (paraphrased from Della Corte 1927, 3). Opponents of this once popular approach are now legion (Mouritsen 1988, 3-27; Allison 2001b).


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