Salt in Late Iron Age Italy. A multidisciplinary approach to the exploration of Italy's coastal exploitation sites: Piscina Torta (Ostia, Rome) case study

Luca Alessandri*, Peter A.J. Attema, Francesca Bulian, Jan Sevink, Wieke De Neef, Valerio Baiocchi, Mario F. Rolfo, Gabriele Cifani, Zoe Lucrezia Anais Ceccato, Luca Cusimano, Marcello De Vos, Lorenzo Di Giacomo, Angelica Fiorillo, Virginia Gianni, Chiara Improta, Caterina Rossi, Youri Ter Horst, Silvia Vagliviello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

During the Copper Age and onwards, unique archaeological sites emerged throughout Europe. These sites exhibit distinct features such as the absence of typical household pottery, the presence of kilns, and extensive layers composed solely of fragments of reddish-brown jars. Scholars generally interpret these sites as specialized locations for salt production through the technique of boiling saltwater, known as briquetage. In Italy, many of these sites are found along the Tyrrhenian coast and span from the Middle Bronze Age to the Roman era, with a particular concentration during the early Iron Age. However, the archaeological evidence in Italy differs from that of other European sites, suggesting that these Italian sites were not solely dedicated to salt production but also involved other economic activities. To delve deeper into the understanding of these sites and their socio-economic context, the University of Groningen initiated the Salt & Power: Early States, Rome and Resource Control project in 2021. The project aims to comprehensively analyze these sites and shed light on the production of salt within their broader societal and economic framework. In this contribution, we present preliminary findings derived from intensive surveys, coring campaigns, and geophysical investigations conducted at one such site, Piscina Torta. This site is believed to be connected to the city of Rome and dates back to the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. Furthermore, we propose a multidisciplinary workflow for studying specialized sites, incorporating various research methodologies and disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104361
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume53
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2024

Keywords

  • Briquetage
  • Corings
  • Intensive survey
  • Iron Age Italy
  • Magnetometry
  • Salt production in antiquity

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