2.7. Gauloise flat-based amphoras

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Of the ten forms of flat-based Gauloise amphora types defined by Laubenheimer, at least five can be recognized in Britain. The furrowed rim amphora of northern Gaul, Gauloise 12, is reported separately (G12) - the remainder are dealt with here. They are distinguishable by body form and rim shape:
Flaring collar rim with short strap handles, usually with two grooves; spherical body with wide base.
Thickened rim with distinct moulded collar below the lip and short flat handles; tapering body with narrow foot.
Thick rounded rim and short flat handles with a central groove; broad shouldered body tapering to a narrow foot. The most common Gauloise type.
Flattened projecting rim with relatively tall narrow neck; body shape as Gauloise 4.
Potters and stamps
Many examples (particularly of G1 and G4) are stamped across the shoulder or neck (catalogue of stamps in Laubenheimer 1985, 413-44).
Fabric and technology
Although produced at a large number of kilns, most fabrics are fine and reasonably hard, pale buff (Munsell e.g. 10YR 9/4) with fine inclusions of limestone, quartz and rock fragments; they tend to be rather micaceous. The surfaces can have a rather open finish that has been described as `stretched dough'. Marks of cloth strips wrapped around the lower body may be visible - these would have supported the wet clay during manufacturing. A coarser fabric, Gauloise sableuse, has more abundant and larger inclusions and is particularly characteristic of the earlier specimens of Gauloise 1 from the lower Rhône valley. The variety of fabrics and their possible sources are described by Martin-Kilcher Augst TG 22-36
From 26l and 37l (for G1 and G4). Post-firing graffiti on the handle or shoulder may record the volumes of the empty vessel in modii and sextarii (see discussion in Martin-Kilcher 1994, 368-9).
Numerous kilns are known throughout Gallia Narbonensis, and this region is the source of most specimens. Flat-based amphoras were also produced at sites in Burgundy, the Loire Valley, eastern Gaul (e.g. Baudoux 1992, fig.7) and the Bordeaux region (Berthault 1992). The Marseille flat-based amphoras of the Roman period, in a characteristic highly micaceous fabric are described by Bertucchi (1992, 111-24, variants 6-7). Some Marseille name-stamps are in Greek characters.
Production commences in the lower Rhône valley during the early-1st cent. AD, with the G1 (perhaps based on earlier Massiolite prototypes). The G4 develops during the later 1st cent. AD and continues to be produced and exported throughout the 2nd and into the 3rd cent.
These amphoras principally contained wine, as attested on tituli picti.
G4 amphoras are widely distributed in Gaul, the Rhineland and Britain, and were also exported to Italy and elsewhere around the Mediterranean - including some in the east. The Rhône-Rhine axis seems to have been the principal route to the north and a series of bas-reliefs and sculptures along this line figure Gauloise amphoras on barges and ships, where they are often depicted protected by wickerwork. In Britain Gauloise amphoras are found from the Flavian period (e.g. Fitzpatrick 1992, 181) and throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Augst classes 10, 11, 12 and 13. Peacock and Williams classes 27 (Gauloise 4, Pélichet 47, Ostia LX, Callender 10, Niederbieber 76), 28 (Gauloise 1), 29 (Gauloise 3) and 30 (Gauloise 5).
The principal study is Laubenheimer 1985; see also Laubenheimer 1989; Laubenheimer 1990a; Martin-Kilcher 1994, 358-76 The kilns at Sallèles d'Aude (12km north of Narbonne) have been reported in most detail (Laubenheimer 1990b); the site is preserved under cover, with a museum. On the British distribution: Peacock 1978.
Although southern Gaul, Narbonnaise, is the principal source of flat-based amphoras in Britain, some of the central Gaulish products were also exported. Laubenheimer has drawn attention to a vessel from London stamped


which seems to be a product of the kilns at Gueugnon in Burgundy (Laubenheimer and Notet 1986, 439, fig.7,4). As further production sites outside southern Gaul are discovered it is likely that their products will be recognized in Britain.


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Last updated: Wed Oct 9 1996