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6.3 Doganella Amphorae

The most visible evidence for the production of ceramics in the survey data is the large quantity of amphorae wasters found at Doganella: this is unequivocal evidence for the production of amphorae in the city. This is the first site in Etruria to produce certain evidence for the production of Etruscan amphorae (Perkins and Walker 1990). The systematic collection of surface materials has enabled the study of the distribution of these amphorae throughout the whole survey area.

Distribution map of Doganella Amphorae

Fig. 185. Distribution map of Doganella Amphorae
© P Perkins 1997

This map of the distribution of the amphorae illustrates that they were mostly found in the areas closest to Doganella in the Lower Albegna Valley. Very few amphorae from Doganella were found in either the upper valley or the eastern Ager Cosanus. The distribution may also be presented as a graph of the percentage of find spots at increasing distances from the city. The graph, below, also presents a curve representing the distribution of distances of settlement sites from the city at Doganella in the 5th century. The two curves are different. The curve for the settlements is a more or less straight line indicating that the settlements are not clustered around the city. The curve for the amphorae confirms the impression provided by the map showing that some 50% of the amphorae were found within 7km from the city and 90% within 14km. This relationship indicates that the amphorae were certainly used in the countryside as well as the city and that most were used (and deposited) close to the city.

Graph of the distribution of Doganella Amphorae against distance from Doganella

Fig. 186. Graph of the distribution of Doganella Amphorae against distance from Doganella
© P Perkins 1997

The raison d´Ítre of the amphorae - transporting loose goods - suggests that some agricultural produce was destined for trade. Evidence for the manufacture of amphorae within the city suggests a centralised control of the production of the amphorae themselves, and this in turn suggests that the city was most likely to be responsible for organising the mobilisation of the agricultural produce which the amphorae represent. The finds from Doganella and the surrounding countryside provide evidence for the spatial extent of this organisation of production; this measure suggests that the territory producing for the city was mostly within a radius of 15km. If one considers that the fields and vineyards of the lower valley must have produced the grapes for the wine or the olives which filled these amphorae, the fact that the amphorae were produced in the city suggests one of three possibilities:

We have no further information about how the agricultural surplus was mobilised. It may have been a tax or tribute funnelled into the city, or a cash or bartered crop or even a form of rent as in share cropping. We just do not know enough about Etruscan land tenure and economics to be able to advance an explanation. However there is something of a paradox in the distribution of the amphorae. If the amphorae were used to transport surplus produce to market or to the consumer, how is it that the amphorae have been found in the countryside which is where the surplus was produced? In a neat theoretical model for the mobilisation of surplus produce through the city, amphorae would not be found in the area where their contents were produced, but only where the contents were consumed and the amphorae discarded. Clearly, the reality was more complex and the amphorae, and/or their contents were used for storage or transport in the productive countryside as well as the city.

One area where we can hope for future progress is in the discovery of the distribution pattern of amphorae made at Doganella and then exported from the Albegna Valley. At present the only probable example of a Doganella amphorae from outside of the Albegna Valley comes from Montecatino in the Val Freddana in the province of Lucca (Ciampoltrini et al. 1989-90, fig. 1b, n.8). Ciampoltrini only says the sherd is similar to those from Fonteblanda and Orbetello, but he is familiar with the material from Doganella, thus we may be reasonably sure it is an amphora from Doganella. This is perhaps an unlikely location, slightly inland and on the fringes of northern Etruria but it is an intriguing first extension to the distribution pattern. Unfortunately none of the other published descriptions of Etruscan amphorae found outside the Albegna Valley closely match the Doganella amphorae, particularly in the use of slips and the fabric colours. Therefore, it is not yet possible to suggest that the amphorae from Doganella were exported to Languedoc, Provence and the shores of Spain and Sicily in the same way as other Etruscan amphorae. Future research may hold many surprises and help to identify the trading contacts of the city at Doganella.

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Last updated: Fri Nov 13 1998