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An Archaeology of Late Antique Pilgrim Flasks Author(s): William Anderson Source: Anatolian Studies, Vol. 54 (2004), pp.

79-93 Published by: British Institute at Ankara Stable URL: Accessed: 24/09/2008 11:38
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AnatolianStudies 54 (2004): 79-93

An archaeology of late antique pilgrim flasks

William Anderson
University of Melbourne

Abstract Pilgrimagehappenswhen a place becomes the focus of venerationbecause of its association with a person or event. Pilgrimcults from the past can sometimesbe identifiedby groupingcertaintypes of materialevidence, althoughinterpretationof a cult's historicalmeaningis only possible once the materialhas been fully assessed. This study considers what sorts of informationcan be drawnfrom the archaeologicalcontext of a group of clay ampullae;miniatureflasks originatingfrom Asia Minor in late antiquity. Ozet Herhangibir yer, bir kisi ya da olayla olan baglantisinedeniyle saygi odagi olduguzamanburayahac ziyaretleribaMlar. tanimlanabilir. Ancak bir Geqmiten gelen hac ibadetleribazen belirli tipteki maddi kanitlaringruplandinrlmasiyla ibadetin tarihsel anlaminin yorumlanabilmesieldeki malzeme tamamen gozden ge,irilip degerlendirilmedenolasi matarave ampullaeden Kuicuik Asya kaynaklive gec antikdonemetarihlenenbir grupminyatuir degildir. Bu calihmada arkeolojikbaglamdane cesit bir bilgi edinilecegi konusu ele alinmaktadir.

During the late 19thcentury,a Frenchengineercalled Paul Gaudin was directing the construction of a railway between Izmir and Turgutlu in the west of Turkey. He developed an interestin the region's archaeological remains, excavating a prehistoricnecropolis at Yortanand, in the early 20th century,runninga campaign at the ancient city of Aphrodisias, where important Classical statuary was unearthed, some of which was illegally exportedto museums in Belgium and Germany (Collignon 1904; 1906; Erim 1986: 37-45). Like many Europeansoperating from Turkey at this time, Gaudin was a sedulous collector of antiquities. Artefacts could be purchasedat Izmir, a city with a large foreign diplomatic presence, a flourishing antiquitiesmarket and an indifferent,or ineffectualOttomangovernment(Schiffer 1999: 101-10; Ozdogan 1998). Between 1896 and 1920, Gaudin donated 44 small flasks to the Louvre,Paris (Metzger 1981: 41terracotta These were describedas coming from Smyrnaand 54). its vicinity, although there is no specific information about how they were obtained: whether they were discovered duringconstructionof the railway,excavated

at Aphrodisiasor boughton the open marketis uncertain. When examined by members of the Societe des Antiquaires de France, the flasks were identified as ampoulesa eulogie -pilgrim ampullae(Heronde Villefosse 1890; Michon 1899). Early Christian pilgrim souvenirs were known from examples in museums and a number of museums had clay church treasuries 'Menas flasks' from Egypt, named after the saint at whose shrine they were distributed(Kaufmann 1910). Having been established as pilgrim souvenirs, scholars interpretedthe designs stamped into their surface to identify which saints were being shown and where the ampullaeoriginatedfrom. Ampullae are distinct from Menas flasks associated with the pilgrim centre of Abu Mina in northwestEgypt during the fifth and sixth centuries AD. Both were mould-made,in much the same way as clay lamps of the time, but the circularbodied Menas flasks have handles spanningthe body and neck, while the smaller and oval shaped Asia Minor type have two holes bored into the top so that they could be worn or suspended (fig. 1). Whereasmost Menas flasks are stampedwith an image


Anatolian Studies 2004

of the saint standingin an orans pose, the decorationon Asia Minor ampullae includes a range of figures and animal motifs; others have patterns of crosses, circles features. and architectural It is widely assumedthat images on Christianpilgrim souvenirsrelateto theirsite of productionor distribution. Art-historicalstudies, particularlyof metal flasks made in Palestine (called the 'Monza' or 'Bobbio' type because of the Italianchurcheswhich possess groups of them), have considered pilgrim related artefacts in this way (Weitzmann1974); the origins of othersixth century ephemera- Menas flasks from Egypt, objects made at the shrine of St Symeon at Qal'at Sim'an near Antioch 2cm 0 I I and some types of eulogia tokens from Palestine- can also be determined from their iconography (Rahmani Fig. 1. Menas flask and Asia Minor ampulla in the 1970; 1993; 1999; Piccirillo 1994). Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden An iconological approach has had limited success when assigning flasks to specific productionor districentres such as Jerusalem(Wilkinson 1976; bution centres in Asia Minor. The diversity of figures of important Hunt and make classification and emblems 1994). Pilgrimagein Asia Minoris also covered by problematic, identified saints have even been called 'inappropriate' contemporarysources, and saints' lives often describe shrines where relics or living Holy Men were venerated for shrines known in the region (Campbell 1988: 544). The frequently occurring 'Evangelist' type is often (Foss 2002). Although hagiographies and eyewitness accounts are the basis of our knowledge on early linked with the shrine of St John near Ephesus on the basis of historical references (Duncan-Flowers 1990), Christian pilgrimage, the information they convey is limited. Reportageis subjective, and offers only some and these are indeed convincing, but without the discovery of moulds, kilns or significant assemblages, idea of the broader political, economic and social locating productioncentres is impossible. It is therefore circumstanceswhich affected pilgrim cults. In the early 20th century, images on metal pilgrim necessary to consider this group of objects by first accounting for the range of designs, and then determine flasks were interpretedas showing murals painted at Christianshrines in late Roman Palestine (Vikan 1995). context through examination of their occurrence in Art historian Andre Grabar's 1958 monographon the excavations. archaeological Monza and Bobbio flasks suggested that their iconographywas based on small-scale metalworkand that the 'Pilgrimage art' An increasingamountof literatureaddressesthe subject objects originated from Constantinople(Grabar 1958). Discussion of the metal flasks re-opened in the 1970s of pilgrimage, but as the approach and scope of this that their the focus shifted towardsdemonstrating when cannot studies' so researchhas been varied, 'pilgrimage of the architecture early Christian be regarded as a discipline in its own right. Rather, iconographydepicted discerneda 'Palesshrinesin Palestine. KurtWeitzmann investigatingpilgrimagelends itself to the applicationof tinian style' in their decoration,comparing the images multiple disciplinary approaches using sociological, fromthe region,and arguingthatmould archaeological, art-historicaland theological methods. with manuscripts Archaeological research into early Christianpilgrimage designs were significantin the disseminationof Christian of economic iconographyfrom the Holy Land(Weitzmann1974). has the potential to enhance understanding Theories about how pilgrimage 'devotionalia' were activity, transport and infrastructure, and religious of However study Byzantine regardedhave been well exploredin recentyears. Rather practices(Stopford 1994). 'pilgrimage art' has largely been concerned with the thanbeing simply mnemonic- touristsouvenirs they have been shown to contain differentlayers of meaning. appearanceand conceptualmeaning of artefactssuch as Gary Vikanhas describedthree 'function categories' for eulogia tokens, rather than exploring socio-political and use. circumstancesof their manufacture Byzantine pilgrim souvenirs: votive, devotional and amuletic Land in the to sites (Vikan 1995: 381). These derive largely from Holy Early Christianpilgrimage was well documented, and written sources have been writtensources, especially the hagiographiesof the fifth considered alongside mosaics and maps to investigate centurySyrianmonk Theodoret,and althoughuseful for the 'sacredtopography' appreciatingthe complexity of Byzantine exegesis, this pilgrimpracticesand reconstruct


Anderson approach offers only limited insight to the conditions under which sixth century pilgrim shrines produced 'souvenirs'. Emphasisingthe pilgrim's experience and how individualsregardedobjects they acquiredat sacred sites may have obscured understandingof the social place of pilgrim flasks. Whilst the owners of objects collected on pilgrimageindeed held them in high esteem, scholarshipthat rhapsodisesover 'receptacles of divine energy' (Hahn 1990), is based entirelyon literarysources with little attemptto actually identify consumers using archaeologicaldata. Art-historians have generally set the agenda for studying early Christian antiquities, and with the exceptionof eulogia tokens, MenasandMonza flasks, the material culture of Byzantine pilgrimage has not been subjectto taxonomy,fabricanalysis, surveys of finds and considerationof context. These techniques all help to determinewhere artefactscame from, which is essential for establishinga historicalcontext. Betterunderstanding of pilgrim flasks can also contributeto a range of transdisciplinaryand epistemologicaldiscourses:on one hand, closer analysis of this potteryform may offer evidence to distinguish people or groups of specific political and religious persuasions, but it may also help us to learn about religious customs, social conditionsand economic activity. Moreover,study of pilgrimflasks can help us to questionthe way in which materialcultureis categorised and given meaning. It is first importantto outline the development and diversity of pilgrim flasks that were made in the eastern Mediterraneanduring late antiquity. Once the 'Asia Minor ampulla' has been sufficiently defined, pictorial differencescan be considered. Iconographymay inform us about the flasks' historical meaning, but archaeological context tells us much more abouttheir use, users and social significance. Rather than reaching a single conclusion about who made ampullae and who consumedthem, interpretation of the flasks' context will considersome discoursesand debateswhich the material might inform. Late antique pilgrim flasks: Egypt, Palestine and Asia Minor Clay flasks were made at several locations around the Mediterranean coast in the late Romanperiod. Extensive manufacture of potteryin westernAsia Minorwas linked to the region's production and export of commodities, and the importance of the Aegean coast continued as Constantinople grew in population and prominence (Kingsley, Decker 2001). Amphorae were made for oil andwine, andtherewere also table wares transporting and otherdecoratedceramicssuch as lampsproducedfor local and inter-regionalmarkets. Among the pottery from Pergamon in the Imperial periodwere drinkingflasks; mould-made,interior-glazed vessels that were probably used as portable wine containers (Mandel 1988). Some are decorated with images showing gladiatorialcombat,suggestingthatthey were associated with the amphitheatre.Mould-made flasks thought to be used for drinking wine were also in Egypt, where the discovery of kilns at manufactured and the Memphis Fayuumhas establishedtwo production centresof the pre-Christian era (Seif el-Din 1993). From the fifth century AD, flasks stampedwith the image of St Menas were produced at Egypt's premier pilgrimagecentre,Abu Mina, located 45km southwestof Alexandria. Menas flasks are probably the most prevalentform of survivinglate antiquepilgrim artefact. They supposedly contained water which was collected from the saint's shrine, and may have been available from the large colonnaded square north of the basilica, which was the site of almshouses and 'commercial' premises (Grossman 1998). Dozens were excavated at the residential district of Kom-el-Dikka in Alexandria between 1961 and 1981 (Kiss 1989) which helped to establish chronology and indicated that they were consumednot only by long-distancepilgrims,but also by a local marketwho embarkedon domestic pilgrimageas an expressionof religious identity (Davis 1998). Menas flasks have been found at sites around the Mediterranean and beyond,which may be takento reflect the extent of Egypt's maritime contacts during late antiquity (Lambert, Pedemonte Demeglio 1994). A cluster aroundthe northernAdriaticcoast suggest a link between Alexandria and the episcopal see of Aquileia (Lopreato1977). Two Menas flasks have been found at Meols on the Wirrel peninsulain the west of England,over 3,500km from Abu Mina (Thompson1956; Harris2003). Palestine, or the Holy Land, was where the most importantChristianshrineswere located, and a range of pilgrim ephemera was produced in this region. The metal Monza flasks were made here using a mould technique (Engemann 2002), but there were also ceramic, glass and organic souvenirs available for visitors to religious sites. A clay flask bought by the Israeli Departmentof Antiquitiesand Museums in 1966 is decoratedwith an image of the Annunciation. Around its edge is a Greek inscription with the words of the evangelist Luke (1:28), 'Hail, thou art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee', and it is interpretedas coming from the traditionalsite of the house of Maryand Joseph in Nazarethand dating from the sixth century(Rahmani 1966). A flask with an image of figures in a boat and which also has inscriptionsreferringto New Testament sites was discovered in the 1950s near Aquileia on the northAdriaticcoast (Guarducci1974).


AnatolianStudies 2004 Anothertype of mould-madeceramicflask thoughtto come from Palestine has small proportions and is decoratedwith raised dots (fig. 2). This type has been assigned to Jerusalemon the basis of its yellow-brown ware and decoration,which are similar to a form of oil lamp made here in the seventh century (Magness 1993: 259). An intact example was discovered during excavationof the site of RamatRahel,or Bir al-Qadismu, between Jerusalemand Bethlehem (Aharoni 1964: 17, 38-41, fig. 10.11, pl. 4.6), and the top half of a 'raised dots' type was found in the Tyropoeonvalley, Jerusalem in 1927 (Crowfoot, Fitzgerald1929: 126, pi. 16.31). An ampulladiscoveredin Sardisin westernAnatoliahas the same dimensions and similar raised dots design (Rautmann1996: 62-63, no. 2.82, fig. 16). A numberof large, clay flasks with variantforms and decoration point to alternative regions, and dates of production. These have handles added to the body like Menas flasks, and are decoratedwith detailed designs. 0 2cm An unusual and well-preservedflask held in the British Museum measures about 20cm in height, over three times larger than most Asia Minor ampullae; its form Fig. 2. Drawing of a 'raised dots' flask found near resembles the 'bag-shaped'or late Roman 5/6 amphora Jerusalem (Aharoni1964: fig. 10) (Dalton 1901: 158, no. 903). A fragmentwith similar iconography to the London flask was found in the to require official authentication. The monogramsand southernbathscomplex at Perge(Atik 1995: 176-80, nos and forms a of is There images among excavation circumstanceshave led to the unguentarium 391-99). range these large, rounded flasks, and it is uncertainwhether being dated from ca. 450 to ca. 550 AD, and their fabric they were produced contemporaneouslyor in the same suggests that Palestine was one region of production (Hayes 1971: 244-47). region, although vessels of this kind have usually been Flask forms were widely produced around the found in Turkey. eastern Mediterraneanbefore, during and after late A large, intact flask unearthedduring excavation of is and has a rounded at Sardis shape, antiquity,but there has been little work done to identify shop buildings of reminiscent animal motifs decorated with curious groups and determinechronology. The variety of forms, fabrics and iconography indicate different regions and Palestinian mosaic panels (Hanfmann 1983: 165, fig. 244). Anotherexample from Sardis,discoveredin a late phases of production. Moreover, pilgrim flasks were Romanresidentialcomplex, has a simple cross motif and not the product of a single religious movement, contained 71 bronze coins dating from the late fifth although they may have had been associated with century (Greenewalt et al. 1994). Fragmentsof flask particular sects and cults. A range of flasks was sherdswith Greek inscriptionsoffering 'blessings of the produced in the eastern Mediterranean,intermittently, Lord'were recentlyfound at Pessinus in centralAnatolia and over long periods of time. (Devreker 1995: nos 19-29). In 1971, John Hayes drew attentionto a wheel-made, Iconography: the limits of interpretation 'fusiform' ampulla,which he dated to the fifth and sixth Despite ampoules a eulogie being classed as a distinct centuries and called the 'late Roman unguentarium' pottery form in the late 19th century (Michon 1899), (Hayes 1971). These are far more prevalentthanmould- CatherineMetzger's (1981) catalogue of pilgrim flasks made flasks, and they have been found in Greece, Italy, in the Louvre is the first and only systematic study of Palestine, North Africa and several sites in Turkey Asia Minor ampullae. Ampullae are characterisedby there is some (Eisenmenger2001). Many have monogramsand motifs their ovoid form and short spout stamped just above the base, and a fragment from variationin size and shape, but generallythe dimensions - most measure Rhodes bears the inscription 'of Bishop Severianos', of those with figuraldesigns are regular leading to the theory that their issue was ecclesiastically around7cm in height and 5cm in width, while ampullae controlled,and that their contents were valuable enough with crosses and other non-figural motifs can vary in



height from 4-9cm. Their colour can range from dark red to buff and light yellow, and this use of different fabrics suggests a numberof clay sources and therefore production centres which employed similarly shaped moulds (Andersonforthcoming). The most obvious variationwithin this flask form is the decoration. More than a dozen differentfigures and a range of geometric motifs appear, with newly excavated examples featuring unprecedented designs. Identificationof figures and motifs has been the focus of most studies of ampullae, and it is importantto survey the flasks' decoration while considering the reliability and usefulness of currentinterpretation. A numberof ampulla-designsfeature 'portraits',but determiningthe identity of figures is problematic,partly because the depiction of saints in the period before Iconoclasmwas far from standardised. In some cases, it is even uncertain whether the figures are saints or contemporary pilgrims. An ampulla design showing three figures in a boat may depict a specific narrativeor saint, but could alternativelyshow anonymous pilgrims travellingoverseas (Metzger 1981: 45; Vikan 1991: 78). Another flask type is decorated with horse-riders a man on a galloping horse holding an axe, and on the other side, a woman riding side-saddle, and carrying a circular object (fig. 3). Some scholars have identified the figures as Mary and Joseph on the flight into Egypt (Wulff 1909: 264; Robert 1984: 464-67), but they have also been seen as pilgrims riding to their destination (Broneer 1932: 48; Vikan 1991: 84-85). The horseriders were recently interpreted as representationsof God as described by John the Evangelist (Zalesskaya 1999: 358-59). Although pilgrims may have been imaged on some ampullae, it is assumed that saints were the subject of most designs, but the diversity of these figures- male and female, apostles and martyrs,priestsand warriors make identification very difficult. One group of ampullae has a half length portraitof a bearded man holding a book with inscriptionsidentifyingthe figure as St Andrew (Dalton 1901: no. 913; Metzger 1981: nos 123-25; Buckton 1994: no. 127); an ampulla found at Sardishas incised lettersidentifyingon one side Johnthe Baptist, and on the other the Virgin and Child. (Greenewalt,Rautman1998). Clothing and attributes are often used to identify saints: a flask with an image of a beardedman holding keys is assumedto show St Peter(Wulff 1909: no. 1352; Metzger 1981: no. 116); anotherhas a soldier spearinga dragon on one side and a man flanked by lions on the other (Campbell 1988: no. 4). The dragon-slayercould be either St George or St Theodore, and the figure with the lions could be Daniel, although he may be one of

many martyredsaints. A flask excavated at Knidos on the southwest coast of Turkey shows a woman in an orans pose flankedby two animalheads (Love 1972: 75, fig. 32). This may depict the female saint Thecla imaged on some Menas flasks, and whose northMediterranean cult centre operated near the coastal city of Seleucia in Cilicia (Davis 2001)-but the woman could just as well be a generic martyrad bestias. One of the more frequentlyoccurringfigural designs shows on one side a seated man writing,and on the other a standingman holding a codex and flankedby two palm trees. Examplesof this so-called 'Evangelist' type have been excavatedat Aphrodisias(Campbell 1988: 541, no. 3), Sardis (Hanfmann 1966: 16-17) and Phocaea (Sartiaux 1921), and several are held in museum collections. Scholars have invariably identified the seated figure as John the Evangelist and suggested that the flasks were producedat his shrine on the Ayasulukhill near Ephesus (Michon 1899; Griffing 1938; DuncanFlowers 1990; Zalesskaya 1999).

Fig. 3. The male horse-rider on two slightly different ampulla designs

Writtensources that describepilgrims collecting dust from the shrine of St John would seem to be sufficient evidence that Ephesus was an ampulla-makingcentre, but this designation does not account for the range of other figural designs. At least five ampullatypes show men holding books, and it thereforeseems that different apostles were being depicted. Whilst identifying Christian saints and narratives is sometimes possible, reliance on this approachcan lead to cycles of interprewhich only highlight tation and counter-interpretation the limits of investigatingpilgrimage art using pictorial evidence in isolation from its archaeological context. The diversityof characters appearingon ampullaeshould be takento indicatethatthe flasks were associatedwith a range of saints and shrines.


Anatolian Studies 2004 Another enigmatic design has a small figure looking out from an elaboratedoorway,and on the reverse side, a cross sits on a drum-shapedsupport,perhapsan altaror font, framed by spiral columns and a striatedarch. Of seven known examples there are three variant designs (Wulff 1909: no. 1348; Metzger 1981: nos 120-21; Zalesskaya 1986; Campbell 1988: nos 6-7). Metzger thoughtthe figure in the doorwaycould be Lazarusrising from his tomb; Zalesskaya argued it could be either St Demetrios or St Spyridon, and that the cross under the archwas a representation of St John's shrineat Ephesus, whilst Vikan thought that pilgrims would have had a more metaphoricalinterpretation of the doorway (Vikan 1982: 27). As well as human figures, some ampullae have animal designs. One example shows a goat tethered to a tree (Metzger 1981: 50); another found at Sardis shows a donkey with a cross and orb on its back, interpreted as a symbol of legitimate kingship (Hanfmann 1968; 1985). A fragmentaryampulla excavated at the Asklepieion in Pergamon seems to show a beast, perhaps a bear, in a 'rampant'posture (De Luca 1984: no. 301). There is a range of non-figural ampulla designs, usually crosses or rosettes, sometimes decorated with concentric or dotted circles. Cross designs and nonfigural types are numerous,they vary in size more than figural ampullae, and they were made from different clays (Anderson forthcoming). The concentric circles motif - which sometimes appearsas a framing device has been used to chart similarities between ampulla types, and it has been suggested thatthe motif originated from Egypt (Griffing 1938; Robert 1984). Varietyin the colour and size of non-figural ampullae is further evidence for multiple sites of production. Rather than offer a comprehensive taxonomy, this summary of ampulla decoration aims to express the range of designs that occur within this pottery form. Although investigatingthe iconographyof pilgrim flasks may be useful for considering historical and pictorial traditions,it is very hardto identify saints beyond doubt, and iconological interpretation may detract from more immediate sources of evidence. The variety of moulds and fabricsused to make ampullaeseem to show thatthe flasks were producedat a numberof locations, although their uniform shape and recurrentmotifs suggest that manufacture took place within a relatively confined geographicarea. A major obstruction to archaeological study of pilgrim flasks is that few have documented contextual information. Without the discovery of a significant assemblage such as the hoard of Menas flasks from Alexandria (Kiss 1989), productioncentres and precise dating are hard to establish. Despite almost every example in museums being said to have come from western Turkey, only a small number have been documentedarchaeologically. Unrecorded purchases of ampullae have hindered investigationof this type of artefact,and it is impossible to know how many might be held in collections, or were bought in private transactions. Even the distinguished Louis Robertseemed to show scant regardfor epigrapher context by acquiringflasks from Turkishvillagers in the 1980s (Robert1984). It is depressingto note thatpilgrim flasks feature among the Roman material for sale at online antiquitiesauctions (for example, EdgarL. Owen Ltd 2005). Despite most ampullaehaving sketchy provenance, those that have been excavated offer a wealth of contextual clues: their occurrencein tombs, shrines and domestic buildings give indicationsabout how the flasks were used, and by whom. Excavated ampullae: locations and context Pilgrim flasks are by their nature portable objects, and the sites where they are found range over a large area. The distributionof excavated ampullae shows that some were transportedgreat distances, but that they were primarilyconsumed by a local market. Most have come from the west of Turkey,and the cluster in this region indicatesthat ampullaewere made here (fig. 4). No serious attempt has so far been made to group reliably recorded discoveries of Asia Minor ampullae. Althoughthe numberof excavatedflasks is small, I have

Fig. 4. Map showing sites in western Anatolia where ampullae have been excavated (after D.H. French in Hammond1981: map 26a)


Anderson identified around 50 examples published in reports. Their distribution does need to be qualified though because find-spots are likely to reflect the interests of archaeologists and the type of locations they excavate. As archaeological fieldwork at late antique sites in Turkeyhas focused on urbancentres, it is not surprising that these are the places where most materialhas been located: distributionpatterns in rural areas cannot be fully accountedfor. By 1988, fieldwork at the city of Aphrodisias in Caria had unearthed 12 Asia Minor ampullae Many more complete and (Campbell 1988). fragmentary examples have surfaced in recent years, making this city the principal location where ampullae have been excavated (Christopher Ratte, personal correspondence). Although the exact type of flask found here recently requires verification, over 40 are now said to come from Aphrodisias. Another inland city where significant numbers of ampullae have been discovered is Sardis, where American excavations commenced in the 1950s under the directionof George Hanfmann. Justbefore his death in 1986, Hanfmannreportedthat 'several' ampullaewere found in 1980 during work at the so-called House of Bronzes (Hanfmann1985: 422), althoughthese appearto be unpublished. Before this discovery, Hanfmannsaid that eight examples were known from Sardis. Others have since come to light, and my research has located reportsfor 12 pilgrim flasks from here, nine of which are the Asia Minortype. The cities of Ephesus and Pergamon also have reliably published finds, although the majorityreported to be from Ephesus, and all from Smyrnacome without details of their discovery. Louis Robert suggested that most of the Louvre's holdings were from the Hermus valley where the collector Gaudin was operating, but they mightjust as well have been boughtin Izmir(Robert 1984). Other find-spots in western Asia Minor are Didyma, Knidos, Phocaea and Samos. Ampullae said to have come from the islands of Naxos and Chios lack excavation reports. A handful of ampullae were found at sites in the Balkans peninsula. One flask was unearthedat Caricin Grad in the Roman province of Dardania, currently Serbia and Montenegro (Metzger 1984). Caricin Grad was a fortifiedsettlementfoundedby Justinianin around AD 530, but abandoned in ca. 615 following military invasion. Other evidence for early Christian pilgrim devotionaliafrom Asia Minor and Palestine being transported to the Balkans has since come to light (Markov 2003). The contextual circumstances in which two ampullae were found in Bulgaria in the 1990s have helped with dating (Shtereva 1999). Some ampullae are reportedly from locations elsewhere in the easternMediterranean: one was found in a Classical shrine on the Acropolis at Athens (Broneer 1932), another during excavation of ByzantineUmmayid shop buildings in Jerusalem (Maeir, Strauss 1995). There have also been finds reportedat Antioch and Alexandria, but lack of excavation reports means that the contexts of these cannotbe investigated. The distribution of such a small sample does not prove a great deal, although there is a concentrationin the cities of Asia Minor. As mentioned,this might only serve to reflect the kinds of locations that archaeologists favour, but the high proportionfrom Aphrodisias and Sardis, cities that were equally distant from the Aegean coast, is noteworthy. It can only be assumed that many ampullae bought in Izmir and now in the Louvre were taken from sites in or aroundancientcities in the region. Categorising context: funerary, religious, residential and commercial find-spots The circumstancesin which ampullae have been found vary greatly,and there are also differencesin the quality of information available. Some are from reliably tombs along with numispreservedstrataor undisturbed matic material;others were found in less clear circumstances or at disturbedlevels. The extent and detail of accompanyinginformationin excavation reportsis also variable, but despite this inconsistent quality of data, find-spots indicate where ampullaewere deposited, and thereforegive clues abouttheiruse and users. Ampullae have been discoveredin funerarycontexts- graves and tombs; they also occur as apparentlyvotive deposits at religious locations such as shrines. Most are from residentialand public buildings. It is important to qualify what is meant by the 'context categories' of funerary, religious, residentialand commercial. Firstly, these sites may simply reflect the kinds of places archaeologists choose to dig, and the designating techniquesthey employ. More importantly, locations as 'religious' or 'domestic' can be confusing because these terms rely largely on modem concepts, developed to describe the customarydivisions we make between public and private,inhabitedand sacred spaces. Differentiating between religions must also be considered critically, as it is equally dependent on modem-day constructsand heavily influencedby events that have occurredsince late antiquity(Elsner 2003). It to bear in mind thatwhen a site is described is important as 'Christian'or 'pagan', this does not make it homogeneous, or the exclusive domain of a particularfaith. Religious movements and the sites they frequentedwere heterogeneousand sometimes syncretistic,derivingtheir meaning from multiple influences and traditions.


AnatolianStudies 2004 a) Funerary Four ampullae from Aphrodisias were discovered in graves, and so can be said to come from a funerary context. Two are from the necropolis west of the city walls, found in the centralchamberof tomb 1 (Campbell 1988: nos 2, 11). The other two were from tombs adjacentto the east end of the cathedral(formerly the Templeof Aphrodite),in the region of the northtemenos complex, found with clay lamps dating from the fifth century(Campbell 1988: nos 1, 7). These locations may be seen to reflect changing burial practices in the late Roman period. As pagan concepts of the afterlife were replaced by Christiandesire for communion with God, the site of burialsshifted from extra-mural family tombs to individual graves in close proximity to sacred sites. Stephen Mitchell has described how 'the traditional distinction between a city for the living and a separate cemetery for the dead, which had helped to define the ancient concept of a city, was broken down by the new ideas about the meaning of burial,and the urge to find a place for a grave as close as possible to a sanctifiedsite' (Mitchell 1993: 120). The depositionof flasks in Aphrodisian burials in the west necropolis and tombs in the city's religious centre seems to epitomise this transition. The other two ampullaefrom funerarycontexts both come from burials outside city walls. A 'St Andrew' flask was discovered in a tomb near Phocaea by French excavatorsin the early 20th century(Sartiaux1921), and a uniqueampulladecoratedwith a donkey was unearthed at a cemetery outside Sardis which contained fourth to fifth centuryburials,althoughit was found 'in an isolated Byzantine intrusionand not well stratified' (Hanfmann 1968: 11; 1985). b) Religious At least 14 ampullae have been excavated at sites of religious importance.Threehave come from the Cave of the Seven Sleepers at Ephesus, a necropolis outside the city walls which became a major devotional site in late antiquity. The legend of the Seven Sleepers was popularisedin the fifth century, although the cemetery was alreadysignificant for Christiansas it containedthe tombs of various saints (Foss 1979: 33). Austrian excavatorsidentified two ampullaeamong the hundreds of lamps found here in the 1930s (Miltner1937: nos 357, 358), and anotherampullathat appearsin the excavation report can also be included (Miltner 1937: no. 114). Lamps from these caves are decoratedwith a range of 'Christian'symbols, Old Testamenticonography,as well as 'Jewish' and 'pagan' motifs, showing thatthis was not an exclusively Christiansite. The caves' dual functionas a shrine and burial complex could mean that the ampullaewere grave goods ratherthan votive deposits. In 1970, excavations at the Hellenistic sanctuaryin Knidos unearthed three Asia Minor ampullae (Love 1972). This monopteros, or circular temple was identified as the ancient Sanctuary of Aphrodite Euploia on the basis of literary and pictorial evidence. The flasks were discovered in an area aroundthe south podium of the temple, where ceramic deposits dated from the fifth century BC to the Byzantine period. Knidos had a number of Christian buildings by late antiquity;the Temple of Dionysos was converted into a church in the late fifth or early sixth century,and there were also other churches dating from this period (Love 1973). Whether the Classical sanctuary was fully 'Christianised' or still frequented by pagans is

Knidos lies at the end of a thin isthmus on the Aegean coast, where in Classical antiquity, several prestigious sanctuarieswere situated. An ampulla was found near Didyma, the oracular Temple of Apollo, one of the principal religious sites of the ancient world (Wintermeyer 1980: no. 247), discovered during excavation of the 'sacred road' that linked Didyma with the city of Miletus. The flask from Samos was found at the Heraion, and so can also be said to come from a religious, and ostensibly pagan setting (Schneider 1929: 97-141, no. 32). The ampulla found at Athens in the 1930s was also discovered in a formerly pagan shrine- a sanctuarydedicated to Eros and Aphrodite on the east slope of the Acropolis (Broneer 1932). Two complete ampullae and two fragmentary examples have been found in the Asklepieion at Pergamon (De Luca 1984: nos 300-03). This vast complex was the city's main sanctuary, a centre of religious and culturalactivities. The Asklepieion had a number of amenities including a library and theatre, although its primary function was as a sanctuary for healing. Sleep was an importantpart of the sanctuary's lex sacra and the incubation building was frequently enlargedto accommodategrowing numbersof pilgrims (Hoffmann 1998). It is not certain how late the complex remainedin use as a sacred site- by the 13th century dwellings had been built inside the temenos (Rheidt 1998)- but the presence of pilgrim flasks may show that the Asklepieion continued to have a religious function in late antiquity. c) Residential Perhaps most useful for discerning the identity of ampulla consumers are examples that have come from residential buildings. At least 16 were found in 'domestic' settings, although these are not typical dwellings, but ratherhigh status residences such as the


Anderson House of Bronzes at Sardis,where three published finds and a numberof unpublishedfinds have been made, the North Temenos House at Aphrodisiasand a castle near the town of Sliven in southernBulgaria. The House of Bronzes at Sardis was a large, twostorey complex dating from the late Roman period. Materialin the basement rooms included bronze vessels and liturgical objects, leading to the theory that the building housed a senior cleric (Hanfmann 1959: 2227; 1983: 192). The complex had more than a residential purpose though, and some sections may have been publicly accessible. The long, vaulted underground cistern would have provided water to more than just the building's inhabitants, and an 'economic' function is suggested by the presence of olive presses and wool-dyeing facilities in the basement (Hanfmann 1983: 147). Another ampulla from Sardis was found in an extensive and well-preserved late Roman residential complex southeast of the synagogue (Greenewalt, Rautman 1998). The building had an upper floor judging from the height of its walls, and it was richly decoratedwith marblepanels and frescoes. Coins from the reign of Phocas (AD 602-610) reflect a late date of occupation here. A different flask found in a domestic setting at Sardis was the 'large type' containing fifth century coins, from residence E5 (Hanfmann 1983: 165), anotherprestigious late antique house. At Aphrodisias, an 'Evangelist' ampulla was discovered during excavation of the North Temenos House, so-called because of its proximity to the Temple of Aphrodite (Campbell 1988: no. 3). This was an elaborately furnished building which had an atrium with floor mosaics leading to a large, apsed hall decorated with marble revetment (Campbell 1996: 188). The complex was probably an official residence, either for the Governor of the province of Caria, or for the Bishop of Aphrodisias. The ampulla was found at the east end of the building, at the level of a floor which has been dated to the late fourth century. Since 1988, a further four ampullae have reportedly been found in the North Temenos House, and six other fragments have come from domestic contexts elsewhere in the city (Christopher Ratte, personal correspondence). The residences at Sardis and Aphrodisias are not typical houses; they were inhabitedby prominentdignitaries, perhaps ecclesiastical. Castles and fortified positions are also not conventional domestic spaces, although they were certainly 'inhabited', and so are distinct from votive and funerarysettings. Three flasks have been found at castles in Bulgaria, two of which are from a late antique fortification near the town of Sliven in the south of the country (Shtereva 1999: 85). The context for these objects is reliable as the castle is known to have been destroyed and abandoned in the late sixth or early seventh century, with coins in the burned layer giving a terminuspost quem of AD 599 (Shtereva 1999: 85). Other ampullae from fortified settings include the flask from Caricin Grad, discovered near to the west tower of the upper town's south gate (Metzger 1984: 158-60, figs 169-72). At Sardis, excavation of the city walls focussed on two defensive features - the Pactolus bridge and the southwest gate, where an ampulla was found along with a Justinianic coin in an area described by its excavators as a guard house (Hanfmann,Waldbaum1975: 45-47). d) Commercial Some pilgrim flasks have been excavated in 'commercial' places shops and market areas, including three from the terraced shop buildings in Sardis. This row of two-storey units was adjoined to the south of the synagogue and bath-gymnasium complex in the centre of the late Roman city, situated just behind a portico running along the city's main east-west road, the later levels of which are dated to around 400 AD (Hanfmann 1968; 1983: 163). The shops are thought to have been destroyed during a Sassanian raid in the early seventh century- the latest coins found here were an issue of Emperor Heraclius (AD 610-641). The contents of the shops were found to be remarkablyintact, with excavated material suggesting a range of trades that operated there including fullonicae, caterers, hardware merchants and other retailers (Hanfmann 1983: 164-66). One ampulla was found in a unit identified as a 'restaurant' from the large quantities of animal bones and charcoal as well as coarse black ware and cookery pots (Hanfmann 1959: 58). A large flask decoratedwith animal motifs was in a unit called 'residence and / or wineshop E4', that also contained a lion-shaped brass lamp, an iron sword and dagger (Hanfmann 1983: 165). Another ampulla from shop buildings was discovered during excavations outside the Jaffa gate in Jerusalem (Maeir, Strauss 1995), a late Byzantine / early Ummayid area described as being 'industrial and mercantile in nature'. The exploration of a row of shops yielded coins, pottery and one 'horse-riders' ampulla. At Aphrodisias, ampullae have been found at the Sebasteion, which was initially a temple complex for the Imperialcult, but by the late antique period was probably the site of shops and 'market' activity (Erim 1986: 106-23).


AnatolianStudies 2004 At Pergamon, three ampullae were found in the gymnasium and anotheron the west side of the agora. These were discovered in the early years of the 20th century, and precise details about their find-spots are lacking (Hepding 1907: 411). Another ampulla was discovered at the agora in Ephesus along with late antiquelamps (Gassner 1997: no. 712). At Aphrodisias, six ampullaewere found in or nearthe stadium,although the two publishedexamples both came from unspecified contexts (Campbell 1988: nos 4, 8). The excavation of two late Roman wells in Sardis yielded deposits of amphorae,plain wares and fine wares fromthe fifth to early seventh centuries(Rautman1996), and amongthis potterywere two flasks- one the 'raised dots' type, the other an ampulla decoratedwith a cross and circles. It is unclearwhetherthe well was a rubbish hole, or the ceramicswere discardedas a ritualor votive. As with otherpotteryfrom Sardis,the assemblageis used to date the city's invasion to AD 616. Dating The invasionof Sardisis a useful referencefor the period at which ampullae are present in the archaeological record;those found in houses and the row of demolished shop buildings seem to indicate ampullaeas a featureof the early seventh century. For how long the flasks had been producedis less certain. The ampullafrom Sliven in Bulgaria was found alongside coins, the latest of which are 'dated from 598-599 and were minted in Cyzicos during the reign of the Byzantine emperor MauriciusTiberius(AD 582-602)' (Shtereva 1999: 85). The latest coins found in the vicinity of the ampullafrom CaricinGradwere from the reign of Justinian(AD 527565) (Metzger 1984), althoughfurtherexcavation of the site yielded coins dating up to the emperorPhocas (AD 602-610) (Ivanisevic 1990). Perhapsthe earliestcontext for an ampulla was the flask recovered alongside a Justinianiccoin at the southwestgate along the city walls of Sardis (Hanfmann,Waldbaum1975: 45-47), but this does not give a certainstart-datefor ampullaproduction as the gate would have been used throughoutthe sixth century. From the evidence available it would appear that ampullaewere present in the cities of western Asia Minor from the middle to late sixth century and continuedto be used in the first decades of the seventh. Conclusion: the interpretation and implications of context This study has consideredthe background,typology and archaeologicalcontext of a groupof late antiqueartefacts found in the west of Turkey. From their presence in funerary,religious, domestic and commercialsettings, a numberof conclusions can be made aboutpilgrim flasks, is hazardous,firstly but reaching a single interpretation because of the paucity of material, and more significantly, because the materialhas relevance to a range of disciplinaryand theoreticalstandpoints. It is possible to identifythe 'consumers'of ampullaewith some certainty, but this informationcan then be used for various lines of researchconcernedwith saint cults, the use of Christian imagery in the age before Iconoclasm and broader demographic conditions in Asia Minor during late antiquity. The context of ampullae may be interpreted differently by historians of politics, religion, economy and society, and so it is importantto survey a range of debates and discourseswhich they might inform. Variationsin fabric and design suggest that ampullae were produced at more than one site; locations where they have been found show that productioncentres were spread over a fairly limited geographic area in western Anatolia, and their archaeological context proves that they were made in the late sixth / early seventh centuries. Fromtheiroccurrencein residentialbuildings, flasks can be associatedwith a fairly specific socio-economic group of 'consumers'-urban professionalsin the provincesof Asia, Lydia, Phrygia and Caria. Other than adding to information about distinct historical groups, ampulla contexts may also be used to furtherour knowledge of otherpatternsof religious and economic behaviour. Flasks recoveredfrom residentialbuildings probably give the best indicationof who collected the objects and how they were regarded,although this small sample of finds may simply reflect the kinds of locations that archaeologists tend to excavate. The 'domestic' findspots are not typical dwellings but rather prestigious residences, operatedby a ruling class and perhapssemipublic in nature. The House of Bronzes in Sardis,where several ampullaewere recovered, seems to have had an economic, ceremonial and funeraryfunction, as well as being a residentialbuilding. The North Temenos House at Aphrodisiasis anotherhigh-statussetting occupied by members of a late antique civic or ecclesiastical elite, whose prominencein this city is known from honorary inscriptions, statues and lavishly furnished residences (Roueche 1989; Campbell 1996; Smith 1999; 2002). Ampullaefound in commercialpremisesand fortified positions point towards other groups of mercantileand military consumers. The amuletic and apotropaic function of icons displayed in shops and castles is mentioned in a number of historical sources (Kitzinger and the presence of flasks at 1954; Cameron 1979) gatehouses in Sardis, Caricin Grad and Sliven, all of which suffered military invasion in the early seventh century,seems to be materialevidence of displayingicons at city walls to avert or protect against attack. Linking find-spots with historicalanecdotes is a convenient, but


Anderson ampullacontextshowever, unsatisfactory way to interpret as it may lead to distortionsof structural propertiesof the archaeological record. As a theoretical archaeologist intermight say, 'it's not a case of dataunderdetermining underdetermining pretations,but one of interpretations data' (VanRossenberg2003). Material excavated from shrines and religious buildings offers different sorts of informationabout the use of ampullae. The most notable feature of these religious contexts is that they are places with pagan and at Knidos,the 'antique'associationssuch as the sanctuary Heraion at Samos, the shrine at Athens and the Asklepieion at Pergamon. Although officially 'Christianised' by the sixth century,Classical temples may still have been associatedwith the paganpast. These deposits indicate that owners of ampullae frequented ancient religioussites andmay be materialevidence of syncretism between pagan and Christianbeliefs in late antiquity,or of convertedsites. possibly the deliberateinauguration factional and political circumstances Theological, may all have contributedto the promotion of saints' shrines in the sixth century,but pin-pointing the exact reason why certain cults were popularised through productionof flasks is not possible without more informationabouttheirprecise origins. Saintcults of the later medieval periodwere often most active at times of jurisdictional dispute, and this could inform us about early Christiancults. However cross-cultural comparisonruns the risk of overlookingmajordifferencesin society. Production and use of pilgrim flasks can also be consideredin economic termsby testing ideas abouttheir concernedwith manufacture againsttheoreticalarguments the natureof the late antiqueeconomy and the value of commodities. It is worthconsideringwhat is meantby the ampullaas a 'sacredcommodity'andaskingwhethertheir productionwas 'popular'or 'institutional'. The ampulla contexts described in the previous section suggest that these objects were highly valued- they occur in prestigious residences,burials,and as deposits in shrines. This sourcesthat emphasisethe is supported by contemporary esteem with which relics were regarded. As a commodity,the ampullawould appearto have had low use value but high exchange value, suggesting that a great amount of 'labour' was expended to make them. Clearly these were not labourintensive products, so the labourmust have been because they were difficult to procure. This may be taken to mean that the act of obtainingpilgrimflasks was labourintensive (theirvalue derived from the effort of pilgrimage) and / or that their production and issue was somehow restricted. This assessment uses traditionalconcepts of value, but it is debateablewhether late antiquity can be considered to have had a marketeconomy at all (Finley 1973). Determiningthe characterof ampulla productionin the sixth centuryis difficult,and it is uncertainif ampulla makers were 'regulated' unionised or somehow licensed to producemoulds or whetherthey were 'free agents', able to make and distributewhatever designs they wanted. Was ampullaproduction'institutional'or 'popular'? Sheila Campbell (1988) suggested that the flasks were sold by travelling tinkers and were not obtained from pilgrim sites at all, but assuming that ampullae contained anything (they might, like eulogia tokens have derived importancefrom the materialthey were made of), it would seem appropriatethat objects with such explicitly religious imagery would hold substances that were deemed to be sacred. Ampullae could have been fraudulently 'sold' as coming from sacredsites when they were actuallyproducedat random locations but this seems unlikely judging from the contexts in which they have been found. Once pilgrim flasks have been identified as prestige items, their distributioncan be studied as an indicatorof tradeand exchange. This approachis usually applied to Carolingian Europe because the development of a 'rational' economy has been explained as the consequence of a 'seventh century transformation'whereby northwest Europe became a centre of political and economic power following the advanceof Islam (Pirenne 1957; Hodges 1982). It should be possible though to of any prestigeitem using tradeand studythe distribution exchange models. The context and locations in which flasks have been found show thatthey were obtainedand exchanged among ecclesiastical, civic, mercantile and militaryclasses in the cities of westernAsia Minor. Their disseminationfurtherfrom centres of productionreflects the rateof 'distancedecay' in the commodity'sexchange. What sets ampullaeapartfrom otherforms of pottery made in Asia Minor during late antiquity is that these were sacred rather than utilitarian objects. Understandinghow sixth centuryAnatoliansperceived 'contact relics' is difficult as it relies on historical sources which are often dogmaticand rhetorical. The flasks are mostly decoratedwith Christianiconographyalthoughit is hard to say whetherthis was orthodox(Chalcedonian)or the pictorialexpression of a hereticalsect or movement. Although broadly consistent in size and form, the diversity(but duplication)of designs makes it likely that there were officially sanctioned ampulla producers. Pictorial, contextual and circumstantial evidence suggests that specific saints were being shown and this can be taken to mean that their image was distributedat shrines with which they were associated. It would therefore be logical to assume that production of the flasks was organised and regulated by some form of ecclesiastical authority. Manufacture of pilgrim


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