After the past: essays in ancient history in honour of H.W. Pleket 9789004128163, 9004128166

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After the past: essays in ancient history in honour of H.W. Pleket
 9789004128163, 9004128166

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ISSN 0169-8958 ISBN 90 04 12816 6 ©Copyright 2002 by Koninldfjke Brill NY, Wen, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No part qf this publication mqv be reproduced, translated, stored in a retmval .rystem, or transmitted in a'!)'.form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authori ton

statues, basins Capraia (Italy)





Torre Flavia









(Italy) Santa Maria


See also Jongste (1995) 40.




(Sardinia) St. Tropez (France)




Columns, bases,


architrave, veneer

200-230 ton






(Croatia) early III

Blocks, pilaster,



Sidi Ahmad (Lybia)







Architectonic parts,



Salakta (Tunesia)



Sapienza (Greece)




300 ton







Columns and


(Greece) Methone (Greece)


131,5 ton

It is striking that none of these 23 wrecks can be dated to the first

century AD with any certainty, and only two or three of them to the second century, but that six can be dated to the third century. This discrepancy could be considered to be due to chance, given that so few wrecks have been found. It could also be asserted that the decline of the marble trade cannot have been as definite as scholars in general believe. In my opinion, however, we should look for another solution. If we take the socioeconomic conditions of the third century AD into consideration when interpreting the data in this table, a more reliable picture will appear. It is not surprising that only a few wrecks of marble carriers of the first and second centuries AD should have been found, while more carriers of oil, wine or some other product seem to have gone down in the first century than in the third. An explanation can be found in the types of ship that were used as marble transports. During the first and second centuries the government depended for the transport of marble on private shipowners, from whom it hired ships of up to 300 tons. As there were plenty of private ships the state could afford to select only



those that met certain criteria, rejecting others. Public ships were used only in special cases, for example to carry exceptional cargoes. 59 We know a little more about one such ship. According to Pliny the Elder (NH 16.201 ), Caligula built an exceptionally large cargo vessel to carry an obelisk and its pedestal to Rome. The obelisk, now in St. Peter's Square, weighs 322 tons and the four sections of its pedestal 174 tons. "Nothing," writes Pliny, "more amazing than this ship was ever seen on sea." The pedestal sections were probably transported in the ship's hull, but the obelisk was carried on deck. The ship therefore needed ballast, which was provided by 800 to 900 tons of lentils. The total weight of the ship must thus have been greater than I ,300 tons. This ship made only one voyage. It was then filled with concrete and sunk to form part of the new harbour of0stia. 60 In the third century circumstances changed. With the exception of those from the Punta Scifo wreck, 61 the marble blocks and columns found in the wrecks from this period have no inscriptions. They must thus have come not from imperial but from private quarries. The owners of private quarries and those traders who persevered with the marble trade suffered from the economic decline that took place in the third century AD. They had trouble finding customers who were able to pay them the prices they demanded. Private entrepreneurs were, moreover, confronted with increasing risks. The state made no investment in the maintenance of the imperial fleets, the result being that these fleets gradually disappeared from the Mediterranean. Piracy once more became rife, turning trading expeditions into dangerous adventures. Since most ships were built 'shell-first', shipbuilding in antiquity was complicated and expensive, 62 and traders now ceased to invest in it. This created difficulties, especially where marble transports were concerned. The high specific gravity of marble demanded purpose-built or at least specially reinforced ships of a sort that may no longer have been available. Traders probably had to use any ship that they could find. Some of these ships must have lasted many generations and been


Pensabene (1972).

° Casson (1972) 188-189; Pomey-Tchemia (1978) 233; Hopkins (1980) 99.




Pensabene (1997). See Hopkins (1983).



repaired many times, as had the Torre Sgaratta vessel, wrecked on the shore of Apulia with a cargo of 18 sarcophagi, 23 blocks of rough-cut stone and one huge column (approximately 160 tons in total). Six coins, all bronze, were found in the wreck. The best preserved coin, which is from Lesbos and bears the picture of the emperor Commodus, indicates that the ship went down at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century AD. The wood from which it was constructed, however, was much older and bore the traces of many repairs. Even signs of a process called 'boxing' in which new layers of planking were fastened over old ones were found. A C-14 analysis of the wood has given a radiocarbon date of 44 BC, with a margin of 79 years on either side. The vessel must therefore have been 250 years old when she sank.63 The Torre Sgaratta ship is an exceptional case, but it may suggest why we have found more marble transport wrecks from the third century than from the first two centuries of the Roman Principate. These are only four examples of how the data provided by underwater archaeology can force historians to reconsider their views. I am convinced that it will not be long before wreck excavations begin to offer historians even more. Consider, for example, the even more complicated trade in amphorae carried on in the eastern Mediterranean. Recent excavations in the Aegean have increased the likelihood that we shall soon have to rewrite the histories of both long-distance trade and interregional trade at this time. Much will depend on the historians, who will have to formulate the right questions to direct the archaeologists' research. Just as much will depend on the archaeologists, who must be prepared to refer to wider questions in their excavation reports. If we can achieve this, studies of ancient wrecks should henceforth receive rather more attention from historians than has hitherto been the case.


Throckmorton (1989) 263.



Bibliography Amphores romaines et I 'histoire economique. Dix ans de recherches (Rome 1989). J.M. Blazquez, "The latest work on the export of Baetican olive oil to Rome and the army," Greece & Rome 39.2 (1992) 173-188. J.P. Bost, M. Campo, D. Colis, V. Guerrero and F. Mayet, L 'epave Cabrera Ill (Majorque) (Paris 1992). A. Carandini,( 1981) "Sviluppo e crisi della mannifatture rurali e urbane," in A. Giardina and A.Schiavone (eds), Societa romana e produzione schiavistica. Merci, mercati e scambi ne/ Mediterraneo, vol. II (Rome-Bari 1981) 249-260. L. Casson, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (Princeton 1972). R.L. Curtis, Garum and Sa/samenta. Production and Commerce in Materia Medica (Leiden 1991). P.W. de Neeve, Co/onus. Private Farm-Tenancy in Roman Italy during the Republic and the early Principate (Amsterdam 1984a). - - , Peasants in Peril. Location and Economy in Italy in the Second Century BC (Amsterdam 1984b). M.I. Finley, The Ancient Economy (London 1973). P. Garnsey and R. Saller, The Roman Empire. Economy, Society and Culture (London 1987). P.A. Gianfrotta and P. Pomey (1980) Archeologia subacquea (Milan 1980). A. Hesnard (a.o.), L'epave Grand Ribaud D. (Hyeres, Var). Archaeonautica VIII (Paris 1988). R.B. Hitchner and D.J. Mattingly, "Roman Africa. An archaeological review," Journal of Roman Studies 85 (1995) 165-213. K. Hopkins, (1980) Taxes and trade in the Roman Empire (200 BC-AD 400)," Journal of Roman Studies 70 (1980) 101-125. - - , "Models, ships and staples,", in P. Garnsey and C.R. Whittaker (eds), Trade and Famine in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge 1983), 84-109. J.P. Joncheray, L' epave C de Ia Chretienne (Frejus 1975). W. Jongman, The Economy and Society of Pompeii (Amsterdam 1988). P.F.B. Jongste, Het gebruik van marmer in de Romeinse samenleving (diss. Leiden 1995). N. Lamboglia, La nave romana di Albenga (= Rivista di Studi Liguri 18 [1952], parts 3 and 4). B. Liou and A.Tchemia, "L'interpretation des inscriptions sur les amfores dressel 20," in: Epigrajia della produzione e della distribuzione. Actes de Ia VIle rencontre Francoltalienne sur l'epigrafie du monde Romain (Collection de !'Ecole Franr,:aise a Rome 193) (Rome 1994) 133-156. R. MacMullen, Corruption and the Decline of Rome (New Haven-London 1988). A.M. McCann and J. Freed, Deep Water Archaeology: a Late Roman Ship from Carthage and an ancient Trade Route near Sherki Bank off Northwest Sicily, Journal of Roman Archaeology suppl. 13 (Michigan 1994). R. Martin, Recherches sur les agromomes Latins et leur conceptions economiques et sociales (Paris 1971). D. Mattingly, "Oil for export. A comparative Study of olive oil production in Lybia, Spain and Tunisia," Journal ofRoman Archaeology I (1988) 36-55. F .J.A.M. Meijer, Een Duik in een Zee van Brannen. Oude Geschiedenis vanaf de Bodem van de Middellandse Zee (Amsterdam 1993). N. Morley, Metropolis and Hinterland. The City of Rome and the Italian Economy 200 B.C.A.D. 200 (Cambridge 1996). K. Muckelroy (ed.), Archaeology under Water. An Atlas of the World's Submerged Sites (New York-London 1980). C. Panella, Ostia. Terme del Nuotatore, vol. I (Rome 1968) 97-116; vol. II (Rome 1970) 102156; vol. HI (Rome 1973) 480-633. - - , (1981) "La distribuzione e i mercati," in: A. Giardina and A. Schiavone (eds), Societa romana e produzione schiavistica. Merci, mercati e scambi net Mediterraneo, vol. II (Rome-Bari 1981) 54-80.



- - and A. Tchemia, "Produits agricoles transportes en amphores: l'huile et surtout le vin," in L 'Italie d'Auguste a Diocletien, Collection de I' Ecole Fran~aise a Rome 198 (Rome 1994) 145-165. A.J. Parker, "New light on an ancient wine trade," inK. Muckelroy, Archaeology under Water. An Atlas of the World's SubmergedSites (New York-London 1980) 54-55. - - , "The amphora: jerrycan of antiquity," in P. Throckmorton, History from the Sea. Shipwrecks and Archaeology (London 1987) 64-69. - - , Ancient Shipwrecks of the Mediterranean and the Roman Provinces (Oxford 1992). R. Pascual Guasch, "La evoluci6n de las exportaciones beticas durante el Imperio,", in: M. Blazquez-Martinez (ed.), Produccion y comercio del aceite en Ia antigiiedad Primer Congreso Internaciona/ (Madrid 1980) 233-242. J. Paterson, "Salvation from the sea. Amphorae and trade in the Roman west," Journal of Roman Studies 54 (1982) 146-157. D.P.S. Peacock and D.E. Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy. An Introductory Guide (London-New York 1986). P. Pensabene, "Considerazioni sui trasporto di manufatti marmorei in eta imperiale aRoma e in altri centri occidentali," Dia/oghi di Archeologia 6 (1972) 317-363. - - , "A cargo of marble shipwrecked at Punta Scifo near Crotone (Italy)," International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 7 (1997) IOS-118. H.W. Pleket, "Wirtschaft," in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft des Imperium Romanum, vol. I ofW. Fischer (ed.) Handhuch der Europiiischen Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte (Stuttgart 1990) 31-55. P. Pomey and A.Tchemia, "Le tonnage maximum des navires de commerce romains," Archaeonautica 2 (1978) 233-251. N. Purcell, "Wine and wealth in Roman Italy," Journal ofRoman Studies 75 (1985) 1-19. J. Remesai-Rodriguez, "Oiproduktion und Olhandel in der Baetica: ein Beispiel filr die Verbindung arch!leologischer und historischer Forschung," Munstersche Beitrtige zur Antiken Hande/sgeschichte 2.2 (1983) 115-131. - - , "Los sellos en anforas Dr. 20. Nuevas aportaciones del Testaccio," in Epigrqfia della produzione e della distrihuzione. Actes de Ia VIle rencontre Franco-Italienne sur l'epigrafie du monde Romain, Collection de I'ecole Fran~j:aise aRome 193 (Rome 1994) 93-110. E. Rodriguez Almeida,// Monte Testaccio (Rome 1984). M.I. Rostovtzeff, The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (Oxford 1957). J.M. Schuring, "Studies on Roman Amphorae 1-11," Bulletin Antieke Beschaving 49.2 (1984) 137-147. A. Tchemia, "Italian wine in Gaul at the end of the Republic," in P. Garnsey, K. Hopkins and C.R. Whittaker (eds), Trade in the Ancient Economy (London 1983) 87-104. - - , Le vin de /'Italie romaine. Essai d'histoire economique d'apres les amphores (Rome 1986). P. Throckmorton (ed.), History from the Sea. Shipwrecks and Archaeology (London 1987). --,"The Torre Sgarrata Ship," Tropis I (1989) 263-274. S. Tortorella, "Cerarnica di produzione africana e rinvenimenti archeologici sottomarini della mediae tarda eta imperiale," Melanges d'Archeologie et d'Histoire de !'Ecole Franryaise de Rome 93 (1981) 335-380. J.B. Ward-Perkins, "Nicomedia and the marble trade," British School of Rome 48 (1980) 23-69. C.R. Whittaker, "Trade and the aristocracy in the Roman empire," Opus4 (1985) 9-75. E.L. Will, "The Sestius amphoras; a reappraisal," Journal of Field Archaeology 6.3 (1979) 339350.


Steven Moors It is obvious that under the Romans as now any community, whether a city or a smaller settlement without the formal status of a polis, would have required some kind of socio-political organisation. Religious, judicial, social and economic affairs would have required regular attention. Even small settlements would have needed specific structures to facilitate the negotiation with neighbouring rural communities of water rights and rights to common pasture, or to maintain relations with the neighbouring polis, the provincial government and the army. Be that as it may, little effort has so far been made to explore the means by which the countryside was administered at this time. This chapter will focus on the administrative relationship between cities and villages in the area known as the Decapolis ("The League of Ten Cities," a region that included the southern parts of Roman Syria and the northern half of Arabia), paying close attention to the administrative organisation of villages. The Decapolis covers parts of what are now Jordan, Syria and Israel. The modem city of Damascus is here taken to mark its northern boundary and cAmman (ancient Philadelphia) its southernmost limit. This area has produced abundant evidence relating to village government, and the study of this material offers an excellent opportunity to examine how villages attempted to cope with the internal and external challenges of political administration. The material ranges from a small number of official documents in Latin and a modestly sized but interesting group of Semitic (mostly Nabatean) texts to a substantial sample of Greek

1 This chapter is based on parts of my PhD thesis (Department of Ancient History, Leyden), written under the stimulating supervision of Harry Pleket and published in Dutch with an extensive English summary: Moors (1992) 509-25. I am grateful to J.M.C. Bowsher for allowing me access to his paper on Capitolias in advance of publication.



inscnpt10ns. The study of village administration in this region is certainly not new, George McLean Harper's study of the character of village government in the Hawran and surrounding areas having been published as early as 1928. 2 Harper was attracted to the Hawran because it had produced a great deal of epigraphical material for an area of its limited size. Since 1928, and particularly during the last few decades, not only have many more texts been found in this region, but better readings of known inscriptions have made it possible to deduce from this corpus more detailed historical information concerning village government in the Decapolis. The present chapter will deal with a far greater area than was covered by Harper, although since the bulk of the texts found derive from the Hawran and its vicinity references to that area will inevitably predominate. In more recent years M. Sartre and H.I. MacAdam have studied the epigraphical evidence in more detail. The question of the status of villages in relation to poleis has formed an important part of their discussion. What was the usual status of villages? Were they dependent on cities (and if so to what degree?), or are we to assume that they were more or less autonomous? What kind of indicators can provide information about the status of villages and thus about the position of their leading officials vis-a-vis their municipal counterparts? This issue is of some significance, since it will influence considerably our interpretation of the functions of the wide variety of village officials to be encountered in the Decapolis. My discussion will have a dual purpose. Firstly, I shall be commenting on the territorial (and administrative) relationship between certain poleis and the villages near them. Secondly, I shall be taking a closer look at the bouleutes, the prevalent type of official in this region, paying special attention to evidence relating to the countryside. An understanding of the territorial scope of the cities will be helpful in determining whether the villages were subordinate to cities or operated autonomously. We have three relevant sources of information at our disposal: city calendars, boundary stones and distance markers on milestones. Before we make any attempt to assess the usefulness of these sources, however, it is appropriate to take a closer look at the administrative nature of the whole of the area under consideration. Political changes


Harper ( 1928).



and administrative modifications over time make it necessary to examine the Decapolis' level of cohesion. The Decapolis: a geographical and administrative entity

Pliny the Elder presents us with the earliest surviving list of all the Decapolis cities, although he is clearly aware of the lack of communis opinio regarding their 'official' number: iungitur ei [Iudaeae, SM] latere Syriae Decapolitano regia, a numero oppidorum, in quo non omnes eadem observant ( ... ). Pliny lists the following cities: Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Pella, Galasa (=Gerasa) and Kanatha (HN 5, 18, 74). Surprisingly enough he does not include Abila, although a bilingual inscription from Palmyra (IGR III 1057=CJS ii 3912) is independent evidence that Abila belonged to the Decapolis. Other literary sources, such as Flavius Josephus, the New Testament, Ptolemy and the fourth-century writer Epiphanius, create further confusion because their lists agree neither with each other nor with Pliny's. 3 The majority of modem scholars assume that the Decapolis consisted of the following cities: Hippos, Scythopolis, Gadara, Pella, Gerasa, Abila, Philadelphia, Kanatha, Dion (?) and Raphana (?). Capitolias, though situated in the middle of the Decapolis region, is not included; it is thought to have used a different city calendar that began in either AD 97 or AD 98. The possibility that Capitolias was 'refounded' at the end of the first century cannot be ruled out, although no epigraphical or other documentary evidence from this period has so far been discovered to support this theory. 4

3 Mark. 5, 20; 7, 31; Matth. 4, 25; Jos. Vita, 65 (341); 74 (410); BJ3, 446; Ptol. Geogr. 5, 15, 22; Epiph. Adv. Haer. 29, 7, 7; 30, 2, 7. 4 The assumption that Capito lias had a municipal era beginning in either 97 or 98 is based solely on a city coin from the reign of Macrinus (217-8) "in the 120th year" (ofthe city calendar); cf. Wroth (1904) 278; Head (1911) 787; cf. Seyrig (1959) 66--7. The settlement's former Semitic name is unknown. On the basis of the archaeological data Lenzen and Knauf ( 1987) 24, argue that there is hardly any evidence for an urban settlement in the first century. This statement is mitigated by Bowsher (forthcoming), who concludes that the absence of epigraphical and documentary data suggests that it was a minor city. Archaeological evidence reveals that the city was flourishing by the late 2nd century, which is compatible with the arguments in Shraidah and Lenzen (1985) 292.





.. '






. ........ . .. '




, ... -""





.... ,., .......··. _,.






,..... __,,

• Constantia

.............__ ,,.. -"''

Philippopolise •Hippos


•••· ~.....

Gadara/ ·' e Abila\.: •


Scythopolis )

Pella •

• Maximianopolis

(j) Adraha

\ (j)

Capitolias '··········· •••




••••••• Bostra


............................ ,''




Drawing by Studio Pankr.~











The political status of the Decapolis is uncertain. There is evidence to suggest that during the first century AD this area was regarded by the Roman government as a separate administrative unit or district within the boundaries of Roman Syria. A career inscription found in Thrace and re-examined by Benjamin Isaac shows that in around AD 90 it was being administered by a Roman knight.5 Regional politics changed dramatically after 106, when the emperor Trajan incorporated the Nabatean kingdom into the Roman Empire, converting it into provincia Arabia, with its own provincial calendar starting from that year. A side effect of this new political arrangement was an administrative restructuring of the Decapolis: the southern part, including the poleis of Gerasa and Philadelphia, became part of Arabia, while the other cities were added to the neighbouring provinces of Syria and Judaea (Syria-Palestine) respectively. After 106 the Decapolis ceased to exist as a separate administrative unit. 6 Although the term Decapolis, with its suggestion of political and administrative unity, cannot therefore be applied to the region after this date, the term will be retained in this chapter to describe the cities and the countryside between Damascus in the north and Philadelphia in the south. This is appropriate because of the level of cultural cohesion between these cities in terms of language, political structures and religious practices. Above all, their common tradition of a Hellenistic ancestry dating back

5 SEG 31, 675, based on I. Sestos, 53; cf. Isaac ( 1981 ). The text gives the cursus honorum of an unidentified equestrian officer who at some stage during his career served in some capacity in the Decapolis: [~yi']mX]f!Ev' (15) :xcncX :x-r[mv T~~ n6A.e[wc; :x-r/...]. 12 Due to the short distance between Capitolias and Irbid and the damaged state of the text one is inclined to date this inscription according to Capitolias' polis calendar, that is to 11112 or 112/3. This may, however, be incorrect, since

8 Allen (1885) 202-3, no. 25. Allen suggests that the date may have been added later, but the grounds for this suggestion are unclear. It seems certain that the number refers to Capitolias. The Irbid/Beyt Ras project, which began in 1983, has not so far produced any relevant new documentary material; cf. Lenzen and Knauf (1987). 9 Bowsher (1992) 269, 276 and n. 63. 10 Lenzen and Knauf ( 1987) 31. 11 Bowsher (forthcoming). 12 Allen (1885) 203, no. 26.




e Samad

(!) Gerasa Drawing Studio Pankra










another text found close to this village is dated according to the provincial Arabian calendar. This inscription was found in 1904 "near" what was by then the town of Irbid, the seat of the local governor at that time. Bowsher states that the designation "near" may be used to describe any reasonable distance and could even suggest a location such as Adraha, approximately 25 kms. northeast of Irbid. 13 If we accept this suggestion the information contained in this text must be considered irrelevant to our purposes. In my opinion, however, the expression "near the town of lrbid" implies a site that is closer to Irbid than to Adraha. The text mentions the construction of a building or wall (?) as part of the local defences "in the 133rd year", €maxonw6v-rwv three ~ouA.stmx[ and one cruv~ouA.wr~