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7.1 General characterisation of the assemblage

The pottery can be divided into five main groups: fine wares, coarsewares, coarse creamwares, amphorae and pithoi. The earliest fine wares, the buccheroid impasto, are probably locally made although parallels can be found with neighbouring parts of Etruria. Vessels are typically bowls and drinking vessels. The boundary between fine and coarseware can be hard to draw in the 7th and 6th centuries and some of the impasto vessels, especially the plates and bowls, are finely finished. Storage jars are also found in impasto; some of the bowls may also have served as lids. The impasto is similar to that found in neighbouring areas and there are also similarities with finds from Cerveteri.

These wares are more or less contemporary with the bucchero which is of variable quality. Most of the few sherds were from drinking vessels. The black bucchero bowls were followed in the 5th century by a less fine grey bucchero fabric.

From perhaps the end of the 6th century the black fine wares were replaced by a fine cream coloured ware which was generally undecorated. This can be stylistically linked to Etrusco-Corinthian wares and bucchero through similarities in shapes and technique (Perkins and Walker 1990, 27-31). The radical change in the colour of the pottery is remarkable, particularly in the light of the fact that fine wares revert to a black finish with the Hellenistic Black Gloss Wares of the 4th through to the 1st centuries BC. The repertoire of shapes is broader in the creamware with bowls, cups, chalices, jars, jugs and plates. Some creamwares have similarities in shape with Black Gloss Wares and a few preserve traces of red or brown paint, suggesting that there may be links between creamware and Black Gloss productions. If these links are substantiated in the future then it would be possible to trace lines of connection between the pottery traditions of 6th century BC Etruria and the terra sigillata industries of 1st century AD Etruria.

The majority of the coarsewares are a distinctive sandy dark red, brown to black fabric (coarseware 1). The most common forms are undecorated storage and cooking jars, bowls, lids and basins. Both the shape and the fabrics are variable and this suggests that there was a multiplicity of production centres. However, very few wasters or kiln debris were found in the countryside. This would seem to suggest that either the pottery was largely produced in the centres, as for example at Doganella and then reached the countryside through mechanisms of exchange (as did other ceramics) or that the traces of rural kilns were too ephemeral, like bonfires, to survive and be detected by field survey.

The coarsewares are generally poorly dated and the survey finds add little to the account provided by the finds from Doganella which can be quoted at length.

´The most fundamental chronological indicator is the shape of the body, globular jars are generally, but not exclusively, earlier than ovoid jars. With much overlapping, globular shapes date to the 7th and 6th centuries, and ovoid shapes to the 5th to 4th. Parallel to this the interior inflexion between the shoulder and neck of the jar changes from being curvilinear to become angular. These changes can be illustrated by a comparison of, for example, the predominantly 6th century jars from Lago dell´Accesa (Camporeale et al 1985, 136-65) or Piana di Stigliano (Zifferero 1980, 42-56) with the largely 5th century jars from Casale Pian Roseto (Murray Threipland and Torelli 1970, 80-82, figs.27-8).

The earliest globular jars (Type 1) have a simple everted rim, often grooved on the interior and date, from the evidence of tombs, between the late 8th and the mid 6th (Bosio and Pugnetti 1986, 91-2, 97 n.86-8). A version with a less sharply everted rim (Type 2) perhaps extends to the end of century. Through the 6th century, examples appear with a thickened rim (Type 3) (e.g. Pyrgi 1970, fig.170 nos.6-13). In some pieces this thickening is exaggerated by rolling to produce a bead around the rim or a slight hooked overhang (e.g. Zifferero 1980, Tav.11 no.8, 12 no.5, 14 no.5). Towards the end of the sixth century this thickening is combined with rolling to produce what has been christened in southern Etruria the ´early almond rim´ (Murray Threipland and Torelli 1970, 82-4; Potter 1979, 15-18), which becomes characteristic of the 5th and 4th centuries (Type 4). Parallel with these rims a hooked rim also develops and is common through the same period (Type 5) (e.g. Murray Threipland and Torelli 1970, fig.27 nos.1-11, fig.29 nos.4-6).

Along with the general change in form and the shape of the rim, the points of inflexion of the rim tend to become more angular with time, particularly at the junction of neck and shoulder and the top edge of the rim, which in the 6th century tends to be curved, but later becomes sharp. These two features combine to produce a flat rather than curved interior profile in the neck.

As yet it is not possible to relate these different rim types to any differing function; cooking jars and storage jars seem to share the same range of rim types.

Such a sequence cannot be created for the bowls, which are mostly either hemispherical or tronco-conical in shape with plain rims. However, the foot rings have been presented and dated using the same criteria as have been applied to the morphology of the jar rims. In most cases it has not been possible to distinguish between bowls and lids, indeed it would seem that same shaped vessels served both functions.´ (Perkins and Walker 1990, 34-5).

The survey evidence does not contradict this tentative description of morphological changes and shows that it may be applied to the region of the Albegna valley and Ager Cosanus a whole and not just the city at Doganella. Future excavation of stratified and dated deposits will clarify this model (e.g. Donati 1994 ) and publication of other survey collections e.g. from Tuscania (Barker et al. 1993), Cerveteri (Enei 1992) or South Etruria (Potter 1979) will allow the model to be compared with developments in other parts of Etruria.

The coarse creamwares form a subgroup of the coarsewares. These had a distinctive cream clay colour and frequent mineral inclusions (fabric). The most common forms were large basins, jars and bowls. The basins were possibly for mixing dough as shown on the walls of the Tomba Golini I at Orvieto (Blanck 1987, 109). Minerals in Coarse Creamware 1 indicate that it was imported from a volcanic part of Etruria.

The amphorae can be divided into three significant groups; those made in the Albegna Valley itself at Doganella, those originating from other parts of Etruria, and those imported from elsewhere. The distribution of amphorae from Doganella has been used above to consider some models for the organisation of the mobilisation of the agricultural surplus of the valley. The ability of the Etruscans to organise and export their produce (at least some of it in amphorae) is one of their major contributions to the cultural development of the Italian peninsula in the 1st millennium BC. From it grew their ability to trade extensively with the Greek and Phoenician worlds and open their culture to external influences. Doganella remains the only known centre of amphorae production, no doubt there are others to find (almost certainly at Cerveteri (Amphora fabric 2), Tarquinia and Vulci) but the Albegna Valley is the only part of Etruria where we can study how the amphorae are related to the settlement pattern and agricultural production.

Amphora made in other parts of Etruria were imported into the Albegna Valley, but their precise origins remain unknown. A few amphora were also made in Coarseware 1, presumably for local use. A variety of other amphorae come from different sources, from Athens (Amphora fabric 8), the Levant (Perkins and Walker 1990, 45) and Corinth (Perkins and Walker 1990, 45), and possibly from the Aegean (Amphora fabric 10, 13, 14), Ionia (Amphora fabric 11) and Mende (Perkins and Walker 1990, 45). Although most of the imported amphorae were found in the urban centres and in the coastal areas, some did find their way inland. These imports are few but they do demonstrate that trading links with the eastern Mediterranean did exist and were not confined to the urban centres.

The pithoi are large storage vessels which occur with a limited variety of rim shapes. These, like the amphora, fit into the phenomenon of agricultural development in Etruria during the 7th century. The invention (or adoption) of pithoi in Etruria was a technological development which facilitated not only large scale storage of dry produce such as grain but also the processing and storage of liquids such as wine, olive oil or milk. One of the surprising conclusions to be drawn from the study is that some of the pithoi have distinctive distribution patterns which suggest that they were either objects of trade or were made by itinerant craftsmen, who travelled with some of their raw materials. This may seem surprising but it is paralleled by studies of architectural terracottas (see above and Downey 1995) where both minerals and moulds have been found to have been transported over some distance. The skills and technology required to make architectural terracottas and roof tiles, which also became common in the later part of the 7th century, are clearly related to those required for making such large and thick vessels as pithoi. This evidence suggests a close integration between ceramic technology, agricultural development and architectural materials in the Etruscan countryside and city.

Further evidence for the complexity and sophistication of Etruscan production and exchange mechanisms can be seen in some of the other pottery distributions, for example, the imported coarse creamwares or the coarseware made in the city at Doganella. The patterns are observable in the evidence but we still know too little about exactly how the exchange was organised. Some of the distributions, for example the pottery and amphorae made at Doganella, have distributions which cluster around the location of the production. This is circumstantial evidence for market activity in the urban centre, even though we know nothing about Etruscan trading methods or their market places. The evenly-spaced urban centres throughout the valley, about 15km apart, can be interpreted as an ideal spacing for market centres being a comfortable daily return trip, and so provide more evidence to suggest intense trading activity throughout the Albegna Valley and Ager Cosanus. How these markets functioned is not clear: it is generally assumed that a monetary economy did not develop in Etruria until the 4th century. If this is the case, the study of the pottery has revealed a very complex system of exchange of manufactured goods based on barter. Elsewhere it has been suggested that the Etruscan economy may have functioned with aes rude (copper alloy ingots) as a medium of exchange (Attolini and Perkins 1992, 129-30) and the complexity demonstrated by the pottery may support this possibility.

So far, the Albegna Valley and Ager Cosanus is the only part of Etruria where we have such detailed knowledge of the ceramics and the settlement patterns. This region does not possess special qualities which mark it as more fertile, productive or developed than other parts; indeed areas around Cerveteri, Tarquinia and Vulci may well have been more advanced. Therefore it would seem likely that this degree of economic complexity is not confined to the Albegna Valley and Ager Cosanus and that when investigated, and published, other survey evidence will provide similar evidence for a high level of exchange in the countryside and between the countryside and the city during the Etruscan period.

Many of the Etruscan traditions of pottery manufacture and distribution seem to have been disrupted by the Roman conquest of the area, probably in 284 BC. The Conquest led to the abandonment of the urban centres, with the possible exceptions of Saturnia and Orbetello, and the earliest coarse wares from Cosa (founded 273 BC) have a different fabric and range of rim forms (Dyson 1976, 13-36). The exceptions to this are the general traditions of the fine wares, discussed above, and the pithoi. Etruscan tradition pithoi are found on a number of Roman period sites which did not produce other Etruscan ceramics. This suggests that traditions in pithos making were conservative, and possibly that pithos manufacture was not closely connected with the urban centres and so survived the Roman Conquest.

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