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Flint Dibble 🍖🏺📖 @FlintDibble
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Since it’s #InternationalArchaeologyDay I thought I’d treat everyone to a 2nd thread on seasonality in Pompeii, and why an eruption date of August vs. October matters

I’m going to focus here exclusively on the nitty gritty of food in Pompeii
If you missed yesterday’s thread on the topic, it can be found below
Pompeii is so important archaeologically because we have an unrivaled picture of the details of daily life within a single city

It is only through a study of these details that we can put together the larger picture

Check out these wheel ruts
Thousands of carts following the same paths have slowly worn down the roadstones of Pompeii leaving wheel ruts throughout the city

Most tourists and archaeologists alike thought, “That’s kinda cool, but so what?”

So, @Pompeiana79 sat down to record them in detail
Eric has found patterns of wear on roads & kerbstones, as they represent travel down roads & around corners, reveals patterned movement through Pompeii

The Romans had regulated road rules, including driving on the right side of the road, one-way streets & alternating one-ways
Carted traffic was crucial to the fabric of a Roman city as large as Pompeii. The economies of construction or food transportation/processing relied upon regulated cart traffic. Shops and businesses utilized and took advantage of nuances in the road network
Let’s take bakeries as an example (since they’ve been well studied by @raylaurence1)

Many aren’t your normal bakeries. They’ve got industrial quality millstones for grinding huge quantities of grain and they’ve got large ovens, not too dissimilar to modern brick pizza ovens
The distribution of bakeries in Pompeii shows how this was organized. Most bakeries are located on or near wider streets to receive large shipments of grain (from the hinterland and/or port)

They’re also evenly distributed, revealing the fabric of urban neighborhoods
If we compare bakeries in Regio VI w/ traffic patterns, these details illuminate grain supply

The 5 bakeries on the westbound Vico del Mercurio were easier supplied from the Vesuvian gate, suggesting they were frequently supplied from the local hinterland, not coastal imports
Accurately capturing the details relating to movement and neighborhoods is an extremely important contribution to our understanding of, not only Pompeii, but urbanism in the Roman world

These examples also highlight the importance of foodways in understanding the past
In order to understand the Roman economy, we need to get at the details of the larger agropastoral economy

And thanks to Vesuvius, we have an unprecedented level of detail in the area around Pompeii. Many villas have been excavated
.@mikofLohr has argued that the region of Pompeii specializes in wine production for an export market, while much of the grain has to be imported

So, let’s look at how seasonality affects our evidence for the wine industry at AD79
Pena and McCallum have argued that wine was bottled at coastal centers and not at inland villas. Key evidence for this argument is the hundreds of amphorae at Oplontis villa B as a wine-bottling center and an absence of amphorae at other wine producing villas (villa Regina)
If the eruption date was in August, it would be possible to challenge this conclusion. After all, it would be near to grape harvesting time and in the latter half of the sailing season. Most producers would have sold their goods, explaining the lack of amphorae at many villas
Oplontis Villa B could simply represent an anomaly. Perhaps the hundreds of amphorae in the courtyard represent a late shipment of wine for the season?

Maybe the location didn’t have to do with a bottling operation, but was just a final staging point prior to shipment?
On the other hand, if the eruption date is autumn, then this strongly confirms Pena and McCallum’s argument for a coastal wine bottling operation. What we are seeing is a bottling operation in situ with newly filled amphorae filling the courtyard coinciding with wine season
While wine was an important regional specialty, the environmental evidence shows its production was integrated within a larger framework of biodiverse agriculture

Plots of farmyards from root casts shows that vines grew alongside olives and other tree-crops on many villas
Wilhelmina Jashemski’s work show villas with rows of vines interspersed among rows of olive or fruit trees. While vines were important, there is a high level of biodiversity at the micro-scale of Pompeiian farm management

This is different from modern vineyards
If we analyze the hay pile from Oplontis (with the understanding that the eruption date is autumn), we can add further detail to the biodiverse management of a Pompeiian farm

Dozens of species of legumes and grasses are in this hay
Geoffrey Kron has argued that the proportional mixture of legumes and grasses shows this hay to be “surprisingly” high-quality fodder deriving from intentional management and production
This mixture of fodder crops was not encountered randomly but part of an integrated system
An Autumn date for this quantity of stored hay suggests it derives from spring planting and late summer/early autumn harvest

The intentional planting of legumes and grasses for fodder in this season relates to both grain production and pastoral strategies
The fields that produced this fodder were not sown with spring wheat, instead legumes rejuvenated the soil. Since some of the grasses don’t rejuvenate the soil, it is clear that some fields were used for grass production as fodder (and not exclusively for pasture/forage)
These kinds of seasonal details are important as they relate to broader discussions over winter and spring grain sowing OR debates over animal pasturage and foddering. These are topics where we have too little evidence, but are currently being researched by several scholars
But there’s no reason to stop here because we can relate these seasonal details back into the city
Let’s take the fast-food joints studied by @StevenEllis74. These are countertop establishments with huge pots of food serving food to pedestrian traffic
The L-shape of the countertops shows that they are advertising to pedestrians walking in a certain direction. This is confirmed b/c along the same street, most countertops are aligned in the same direction

We can plot movement of fast-food consumers
In most cases, these fast-food shops are advertising to pedestrian traffic coming into the city. If we take autumn, we can begin to put together the clientele and the functioning of these establishments at the time of the eruption
As mentioned in previous thread, in the autumn, tourism at Pompeii would’ve dropped off. Most of the people entering the city gates who would use these shops are those returning from grape harvesting and grain sowing in the hinterland
Meyer’s archaeobotanical overview suggests many of the large pots in these shops were filled with beans, fruits, and nuts. These are the sort of low-class food we’d expect for the working-class clientele, confirmed by both textual and dietary isotopic evidence elsewhere
Furthermore, if these are seasonal, autumn beans and if the conclusions from the hay pile (spring sowing of legumes) holds true for beans grown for human consumption, then the two pieces of evidence work in tandem to strengthen this seasonal growing pattern around Pompeii
Given the importance of the food economy, and its complex fashion, a fixed seasonal date for the eruption gives us more explanatory power. Not just in understanding food production, but in the make-up of the population and the activities taking place at that time
Seasonality helps contextualize not only environmental finds but other sorts of portable finds (like wine amphorae), which provides us with a more detailed picture of economy and society in Pompeii
It matters b/c it helps us understand the urban fabric in a detailed fashion
This picture can be integrated w/ evidence for seasonality at other sites. Yes, environmental archaeologists recover evidence of seasonality from stable isotopes in different tooth locations & from weed seed assemblages. We’re actively researching this topic. It matters
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