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MARITIME STUDIES

IN THE WAKE
OF THE BYZANTINE
SHIPWRECK AT
YASSIADA, TURKEY
Edited by

Deborah N. Carlson, Justin Leidwanger, and Sarah M. Kamp bell


Foreword by George F. Bass

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY PRESS

College Station

TWO

The Restudy of the LR2 Amphoras from


the Seventh-Century Yass1ada Shipwreck
Preliminary Evidence for Standardization
Peter G. van Al.fen

Aware of the significance of a chance discovery of graffiti on some of the globular amphoras
from the wreck, but realizing that they could not delay the publication of Yassz Ada L George
Bass and Frederick van Doorninck Jr. pressed ahead with publication anyway, knowing that
further work on the amphoras would be required. 1 With the volume in press, efforts were
already underway to raise as many of the remaining amphoras as possible in the hopes of finding more graffiti, which could perhaps offer more insight into the purpose and the endpoints
of the ship's final voyage. Of the estimated 900 amphoras that were carried aboard the vessel,
822 were recorded during the excavations in the early 1960s. These were divided into two
primary classes: 719 globular and 103 cylindrical jars. 2 During the excavation, 110 amphoras
of both classes (80 globular and 30 cylindrical)-about 14 percent of the total recordedwere raised for study. The rest were moved into storage areas on the seafloor, where they
stayed for two more decades. 3
In the quest for more graffiti, over 560 additional jars were brought to the surface in the
early 1980s and taken to the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology for conservation and study, where they remain stored today. Van Doorninck and a host of others subsequently cleaned the jars and found more graffiti, as had been hoped. 4 Parallel to this work,
van Doorninck began his study of the amphoras from the eleventh-century "Glass Wreck"
excavated at Ser<;:e Lima111 in 1977 - 79, which in time took precedence over the work on the
Ya5Slada jars. This, as it happened, was a fortunate turn of events.
In his study of the 89 piriform amphoras from the Glass Wreck, which are summarized
in Chapter 3 of this volume, van Doorninck observed, through an unprecedented method
of highly controlled linear and volumetric measurement, that the jars were produced in a
wide range of multiples of the mina, or 3 Byzantine pounds (litrtu). Each amphora was carefully constructed to hold a precise weight of either dry or sweet wine (each has a different
specific gravity), resulting in the just over two dozen sizes observed. This type of standardized packaging for commodities, with a plethora of sizes, although universal today was not
common throughout most of antiquity. Studies of Greek and Roman amphoras make it clear
that the earlier jars, when there was size differentiation at all, were made in three general
sizes only-full, one-hal and one-third-with no close volumetric consistency within each
size. 5 Van Doorninck's observations of the eleventh-century Ser<;:e Lima111 amphoras therefore are important for understanding the development of political and economic institutions and social mechanisms related to the production, shipment, and consumption of the
commodities in amphoras and of the jars themselves. These observations gave the restudy
of the Ya5Slada amphoras renewed impetus and focus. The primary purpose in reexamining
17

the Yass1ada amphoras now is to determine if the same degree of standardization was already
in use four centuries earlier, in the hopes of better defining the conceptual turning point
that gave rise to the type of standardization already fully developed in the eleventh century.
Initial stabs at this problem by van Doorninck in the late 1980s and early 1990s seemed
to indicate that standardization was present in the early seventh-century amphoras, but the

great number of jars needing laborious linear and capacity measurements made the prospect
of confirming these preliminary results daunting.
In the meantime, as a more manageable test case, the cylindrical jars from the wreck were
selected for linear and capacity measurements. Although this study revealed that there was
a reasonable amount of consistency in the linear dimensions of the smaller jars and the possibility that a system of precisely formed, standardized capacities was in use, both the small
sample size of complete amphoras ( 19) available for capacity measurement and the generally
poor build quality of the roughly 70 examples studied lefi: room for doubt. 6 With the question of standardization in the seventh century still not satisfactorily resolved, van Doorninck
and I resumed work on the restudy of the globular amphoras in 2004. Our current work
determining the capacity system of the globular amphoras, while still far from finished,
offers evidence that a system of standardized capacities was in use. This aspect of the restudy
project is discussed by van Doorninck in Chapter 17 of this volume. This chapter focuses on
the linear measurements of the globular jars and the meaning of their standardization.

The Current State of the Project


Van Doorninck's (1989) revised typology of the globular jars identified four major working
types, Types I-IV, distinguished primarily by handle shape and body decoration (figs. 2.12.4).7 These four major types collectively represent approximately 89 percent of the globular
amphoras from the wreck housed in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. In
addition to Types I- IV, there are several dozen other types, each represented at most by only
a few amphoras with widely varying fabrics, sizes, and shapes; for the sake of convenience in
this chapter, these several dozen other types are here discussed as a group, Type S(pecial),
which collectively represents approximately 11 percent of the globular jars in the Bodrum
Museum. Some Type S jars are unquestionably earlier sixth-century examples of LR2a
amphoras (figs. 2.5 and 2.6); unfortunately, none of these jars has a preserved base, and thus
the basal knob that could provide a date to either side of 5 50 c E. 8 In either case, the chronological span of the older and newer globular amphoras appears to be at least several decades.
A numerical breakdown of the presently cataloged globular jars-including approximately
150 complete examples-from the Yass1ada wreck in the Bodrum Museum is as follows: I,
168 examples; II, 65 examples; III, 198 examples; IV, 68 examples; and S, 46 examples.
Our current thoughts on the question of standardization and the globular jars are based
on the data that we have collected to date, which include linear and capacity measurements
of Type I amphoras, most of the linear and many of the capacity measurements of Type II
amphoras, and only linear measurements of amphora Types III, IV, and S. Capacity measurements have been collected from 52 complete examples of Types I and II, which represent
roughly one-third of the approximately 150 complete amphoras of all types. Our current
thoughts on the question of standardization and the globular jars are therefore based on the
data that we have at hand.

IS

VAN ALFEN


I
I

I
I
I

Figure 2.1.

Figure2.2.

Type I globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Type II globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure2.3.

Figure2.4.

Type III globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Type IV globular amphora (Susan Katzev).

Figure2.5.

Figure2.6.

Type S globular amphora (P. van Alfen).

Type S globular amphora (P. van Alfen).

Figure 2.7. Inverted, broken neck from Type Ia amphora undergoing capacity measure-

ment. Note the beveling around the edge (Peter van Alfen).

Linear Measurements
In the early stages of the restudy project, van Doorninck identified a dozen separate linear
measurements on the body, neck, rim, and handles of the amphoras that seemed critical for
understanding how the jars were conceptualized and constructed. 9 While some of these measurements may not have been important to ancient potters, several exhibit tight clustering
around certain marks, indicating that in the construction of the jars these must have been
measurements of concern and thus were carefully controlled by means of guides, rulers, or
other devices. Seven such measurements, three on the body and four on the neck, are discussed below (figs. 2.8-2.23 ). 10
The construction of these large amphoras was a multistep operation involving three
separate major components: the body, the neck, and the handles. Despite the fact that such
multistep, multi part construction offered ample opportunities for quality to suffer, especially
when we consider that amphoras generally might not have warranted special care in their
construction in light of their storage and transport function, the Type I- IV globular jars are
exceptionally well-made, most notably when compared to the often sloppy construction of
the cylindrical jars. Broken Type I and IV jars have revealed a high level of build quality in
the area of the neck and mouth especially. Great care was taken to ensure a tight and secure

fit between the neck and body by beveling the lower portion of the neck so it would seat
snugly within the corresponding hole in the body (fig. 2.7). Prodigious amounts of fine slip
were used around the neck-body and neck-handle attachment points and indeed around
the entire body; fine slip was also used to form the mouth and rim, possibly using a round
plug-like tool to ensure consistency in the size of the opening. The greatest proof of quality
construction, however, is in the linear (and capacity) measurements, which demonstrate the
potters' meticulousness.
The tabulated results of the overall height, maximum diameter, and height at maxi-

20

VAN ALFEN

Figure 2.8. Type IV amphora


illustrating overall height, maximum
diameter, and height at maximum
diameter measurements (Peter van Alfen).

40

35

30

25

c:
Qj

:I 20

er

...
~

15

10

39.0 40.0 41.0 42.0 43.0 44.0 45.0 46.0 47.0 48.0 49.0 50.0 51.0 52.0 53.0 54.0 55.0 56.0 57.0 58.0 59.0 60.0 70.0

Height (cm)

Figure 2.9. Histogram for overall height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

mum diameter data sets are presented in Figures 2.9-2.14. For each of these measurements,
and the neck measurements that follow, two graphs are provided. The first histogram (the
bar chart) represents all the data for that measurement from all the amphora types inclusive and the number of examples providing this measurement. The second histogram is the
cross-tabulation of the same data exclusive by type (e.g., Types I-IV and S).
The true significance of these linear body measurements will only be understood once
we correlate them with one another and with the capacity measurements, a task that must
await the completion of our data collection in the Bodrum Museum, but it is possible already
RESTUDY OF LR2 AMPHORAS

21

40

35

30

25
>

o;i Type S

c:
Qj

::I

er

20

DType IV

Qj
....

!!Hype Ill

u.

DType II
Type I

15

10

39.0

41.0

_r;J_
43.0

45.0

47.0

49.0

51.0

53.0

55.0

57.0

59.0

61.0

Height (cm)

Figure 2.10. Cross-tabulation for overall height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

50
45
40
35
30
>

c:

~ 25
er

~
u.

20
15
10

+-"'ifilll-~,.~~~-r~~L,-

30.0 31.0 32.0 33.0 34.0 35.0 36.0 37.0 38.0 39.0 40.0 41.0 42.0 43.0 44.0 45.0 46.0
Maximum Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.11. Histogram for maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-~~-~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

so
45

Ill Type S

40

llllType Ill

~Type

IV

OType II

35

Ill Type I

30
>
u
c:

g:
...
u..

25

CT
Cll

20
15
10
5
0
30.0

32.0

34.0

36.0

38.0

40.0

42.0

44.0

46.0

Maximum Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.12. Cross-tabulation for maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

40

35

30

25
~
c:

g: 20

CT

!!!
u..

15

10

0
18.0 19.0 20.0 21.0 22.0 23.0 24.0 25.0 26.0 27.0 28.0 29.0 30.0 31.0 32.0 33.0 34.0
Height at Maximum Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.13. Histogram for height at maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

40

l
I

35

30

25
~
c

;;Type S

!!Ier 20

Bil Type IV

15

10

18.0

19.0

20.0

21.0

22.0

23.0

24.0

25.0

26.0

27.0

28.0

29.0

30.0

31.0

32.0

33.0

34.0

Height at Maximum Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.14. Cross-tabulation for height at maximum diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

Figure 2.15. Type IV


amphora illustrating the neck
measurements for maximum
and minimum diameter, internal
mouth diameter, and height
(Peter van Alfen).

to make a number of observations. In overall height, significant clustering occurs between


53 and 56 cm, particularly around the 54- and 55-cm marks. Likewise, in maximum diameter, significant clustering occurs between 41 and 45 cm but especially at the 42- and 43cm marks. Similar patterns of clustering centered on the 27.5-cm mark can be seen in the
height at maximum diameter histograms (figs. 2.13 and 2.14). The highest peaks in each
of these histograms indicate great success on the part of the potters in hitting a particular
24

VAN ALFEN

----------- - -

mark consistently. While the slopes away from these high peaks would normally indicate less
successful attempts at hitting that particular high mark, points along the slopes (e.g., 53 and
56 cm in overall height) might also have been desired marks themselves, but they are not as
statistically well represented in our data set.
Van Doorninck observed with the Ser~e Limam jars that the potters controlled volumetric size by precise alterations to the body dimensions, no more than one or two centimeters in
body height and/ or diameter. If we subtract the standard neck height for Types I and IV (ca.
13.5 cm, see below) from the overall height, a rough 1:1 correlation between the maximum
body diameter and the overall height minus the neck (i.e., the height of the body per se) is
evident. 11 On the basis of the data we have to date, 42 lepta, or 41 cm, is the likeliest starting point for both body height and maximum diameter, the point from which the potters
either added or subtracted to create larger or smaller standard-size bodies. The balance of
proportion and volume in the square-ish 42-lepta body could be maintained in other larger
or smaller sizes by adjusting the height at maximum diameter as necessary as height and/ or
diameter was reduced or enlarged. 12
The cross-tabulated results by amphora type show that Types I, II, and III are strongly
represented in the highest peaks of all the histograms, Type IV less so but still prominent.
The measurements from the Type S jars are the least concentrated and most widely scattered.

It is clear that there was a range of different yet relatively closely grouped body sizes and
corresponding volumes in the Type I- IV jars. 13 Regardless of the size of the body, however,
many of the large jars shared a standard-sized neck of the same volume and dimensions.
The Type I and IV necks have capacities that average 535 cm 3, with a standard deviation of
30 cm 3 (fig. 2.7). The capacities of the Type II and III necks have not yet been calculated,
but the histograms suggest that their average (linear) size was slightly smaller than the Type I
and IV necks. A standard size neck is further confirmed by the tabulated results for four sets
oflinear measurements on the necks: the minimum and maximum diameters, the height,
and the internal mouth diameter (figs. 2.16-2.23). We note a gradual lefi:-hand slope and
sharp right-hand drop-off in all of the histograms except that for internal mouth diameter
(fig. 2.22), which suggests that the potters were working toward the measurement represented by the highest peak but did not wish to overshoot it: for Types I and IV, ca. 13.5-cm
neck height, ca. 13.5-cm maximum neck dtameter, and ca. 7.75-cm minimum neck diameter; for Types II and Ill, ca. 12.5-cm neck height, ca. 12.5-cm maximum neck diameter,
and ca. 7.1-cm minimum neck diameter. Of great significance is the fact that the standard
deviation for these three measurements is between 0.49 and 0.99 cm, again a sure sign that
the necks were built to a predetermined size.
The shape of the histogram for the internal mouth diameter (fig. 2.22) is somewhat different than those for the other three neck dimensions since it has an extended plateau from
ca. 6.25 cm to ca. 7 cm. That ca. 7 cm was the desired mark for Types I and IV is confirmed by
the mean (6.94 cm) and the standard deviation (0.47 cm) for these jars, whereas for Types II
and III the mean is 6.44 cm and the standard deviation 0.43 cm, indicating ca. 6.5 cm was the
mark. The slightly greater degree of consistency in this dimension compared to the others is
likely due to the use of a standard-sized tool to help form the mouth opening, which could
then accept a standard-sized stopper. Our standard stopper, 1 cm thick, 7 cm in diameter
tapering to 6 cm and fashioned from Styrofoam, is a perfect fit in the mouths of the vast
majority of the Type I and IV jars but a tighter fit in the Type II and III jars.
The cross-tabulated results for the neck dimensions follow essentially the same pattern as
RESTUDY OF LR2 AMPHORAS

25

200
180
160
140
> 120
c:

~ 100

C'"

...ClJ
u..

80
60
40
20
0
6.5

9.5

8.5

7.5

Minimum Neck Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.16. Histogram for minimum neck diameter of the jars in this study.

70

60

50

e- 40

;;;Type S

CJ Type IV

"
.t 30
O"

rri Type Ill

CJ Type II
Type I

20

10

6.5

7.0

7.5

8.0

8.5

9.0

Minimum Neck Diameter {cm)

Figures 2.17. Cross-tabulation for minimum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

those for the body dimensions. Again, jars of Types I, II, and III are heavily represented in the
peaks and slopes of the histograms, Type IV jars less so but still prominent, whereas Type S
jars are widely scattered across the entire data set.
The rather compelling picture of linear standardization that is emerging from the data
raises a number of issues about the production of the globular jars. Although we can only
speculate how amphora production was organized within workshops in the sixth and seventh

26

VAN ALFEN

.,..---------------------------------------------

140

120

100

e-c

80

"

~""

60

40

20

10.5

11.5

12.5

13.5

14.5

15.5

16.5

17.5

18.5

19.5

20.5

21.5

22.5

23.5

24.5

25.5

Maximum Neck Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.18. Histogram for maximum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

140

120

100

80
OlType S
Ifill Type IV

!!Hype Ill

60

OType II
Type I

40

20

10.5

11.5

12.5

13.5

14.5

IL
15.5

16.5

"'\""'

17.5

'18.5
"""'

~--~~

19.5

20.5

21.5

22.5

23.5

24.5

25.5

Maximum Neck Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.19. Cross-tabulation for maximum neck diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

centuries, it is possible that each of the three major components, body, neck, and handles, was
produced concurrently by several individuals, perhaps of differing skill levels, rather than consecutively by one individual before final assembly. 1q The construction of the body required a
great deal of skill due to the amount of control needed to impart precision in vessels of such
great size and weight, whereas rolling out handles required the least skill. The necks were also
precisely constructed, but their smaller size and weight made them more manageable than
the bodies. How workshops were organized internally by task or skill and externally across
geographical regions has bearing on the question of standardization. For several variously
skilled individuals within a single workshop to produce presized components for a single
RESTUDY OF LR2 AMPHORAS

27

140

120

100

> 80

CIJ

:::s

C"

...CIJ

60

LI..

40

20

0
9.5

10.5

11.5

12.5

13.5

15.5

14.5

16.5

Neck Height (cm)

Figure 2.20. Histogram for neck height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

35 l

30

25

>

20
iii Type S

"'c

"'

::s

!<I Type IV

Iii Type Ill

tr

15

DType II
Type I

10

9.5

10.0

10.5

11.0

11.5

12.0

12.5

13.0

13.5

14.0

14.5

15.0

15.5

Neck Height (cm)

Figure 2.21. Cross-tabulation for neck height of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

16.0

180
160
140
120
c~ 100
QI

::I

C'"

......
QI

80
60
40
20
0
5.0

6.0

8.0

7.0

9.0

Internal Lip Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.22. Histogram for internal mouth diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

45

40

35

30

e- 25
c:

<II

"~

u..

20

15

10

O J_______

5.0

1111111

5.5

II W'tI

6.0

6.5

7.0

7.5

8.0

8.5

9.0

Internal Lip Diameter (cm)

Figure 2.23. Cross-tabulation for internal mouth diameter of the jars in this study (Stephanie Koenig).

standardized final product implies the use of predetermined guides or measurements. At the
shop level, the use of such tools or blueprints, as it were, could entail simply the desire to find
either a method of production adapted to the varying skill levels of those working in the shop
or a method that increased efficiency and rates of production. 15 These implications change,
however, as the scale of standardized production expands geographically across many workshops. As we have seen, many of the Types I-IV have virtually identical linear (and capacity)
measurements, 16 but the fabric of Type IV is not the same fabric as that of Types I-III. 17 I as
is likely, these jars prove to have been constructed at workshops geographically far removed
from one another, their virtually identical measurements mean that all workshops in a given
region followed the same blueprint. This has significant implications for the meaning of standardization within Byzantine exchange systems.

The Meaning ofYass1ada Amphora Standardization


It is our belief, at this stage in the restudy project, that Types I and II are representative of a

system of precisely formed, standardized capacities. If we consider that many of the Type S
jars-some reused and perhaps decades old when the ship sank-as well as the cylindrical
jars appear to exhibit looser linear and volumetric control, it is possible that a conceptual
turning point for standardization can be found shortly before the ship sank, which could
account for both standardized and nonstandardized jars being on the same ship. What
remains to be seen is if this turning point was a system-wide phenomenon or one more
locally isolated but still representing a step in the direction of the more widespread form of
standardization observed in the Sen;:e Limam piriform amphoras. In either case, the implications of a smaller or larger and presumably rather dramatic shift to the use of highly standardized containers of multiple sizes are vast and complex, involving consideration of the
modes of production, distribution, and consumption and the institutional structures within
and around which these modes operated. If, for example, we are observing a transitional
moment toward greater standardization, we should like to know, among other things, the
problems that led to the production of standardized amphoras as a solution, how the various
dimensions and capacities for these jars were determined, and how widely the "blueprint"
was disseminated and enforced. In terms of distribution, if standardized and nonstandardized jars were at this time commonly found side by side, as on the Yass1ada ship, does this
represent two or more modes of distribution operating in tandem, in parallel, or in competition ?18 Does it imply that amphora standardization served only short-term goals (as, for
example, within the realm of production only), but had little or no significance within the
realms of distribution and consumption? And, as these large jars exited the realm of distribution and came into the hands of the ultimate consumer(s), would standardization matter
to

those emptying the jars, and if so, in what context(s)?


How we approach such questions is determined in part by how we view the purpose of

the ship's final voyage. Bass's suggestion in his conclusions to the 1982 final report that the
ship was engaged in a commercial venture has now been superseded by van Doorninck's
reassessment of that last voyage: the ship, owned and stocked by the church, had set off in
service of the state's annona militaris, the taxation and redistribution system responsible for
feeding the armies. By eliminating market mechanisms from this voyage, which was meant
to distribute wine and oil to state-employed soldiers (i.e., the final consumers), we emphasize
the role of two large, interoperating institutions, both of which had their own closed systems

30

VAN ALFEN

for acquiring, distributing, and consuming goods. 19 In van Doorninck's reassessment, both
institutions are the primary forces for the distribution and consumption of the amphoras,
but can we extend their role to the production of the jars as well? In other words, is it possible
that a transition to standardization took place within the closed context of the church or
state's commodity extraction and distribution systems, with market activity playing no role
in its development and adoption? The answer, at this point, is equivocal.
Within markets, the persistence of transaction costs encourages the development of institutions and devices that help to lower the search for information and increase the reliability of exchange and the quality of goods. 20 Standardized measures, monetary instruments,
rules, and the like help to lower costs. Thus it makes perfectly good sense that the move
toward highly standardized containers, like amphoras, would take place within a market context in order to ease the assessment of quantity versus value. Incredibly, however, over the
course of nearly a millennium of intense market activity within the Mediterranean involving
highly standardized measures, monetary instruments, rules, and additional market amenities
of all sorts, high levels of amphora standardization appear only to have developed in the
Late Roman period. Was there a momentous, unprecedented shift in market practices that
served as the drive for standardization? 21 That is one possibility, but it is difficult to see how
market forces alone could have encouraged and enforced a rapid, geographically widespread
diffusion of amphora standardization when long-standing market practices had, it would
seem, studiously avoided such a thing for centuries, no doubt because it served the interests of wholesalers to obfuscate the search for value-quantity information. The diffusion and
enforcement aspects of the problem suggest the role of an entity, like the church or state,
with the necessary authority to achieve compliance across geographical regions. An overhaul
of the state's system of taxation on market activity, one that required greater attention be
paid to the value of specific quantities of goods carried in amphoras, may also have supplied
the impetus for standardization. In this solution, markets are still the locus of change, but
the instigation comes top down, rather than bottom up through market processes. But there
are, of course, alternatives to market-based activities that may have encouraged the adoption
of standardization as well.
The theory of firms, as initially developed by Ronald Coase (1937), describes them as
agglomerations that get around the costs of using the price mechanism in markets. 22 Rather
than going into the market to negotiate prices for the goods and services they need, firms
produce the needed good or service by expanding their own productive organization. Intrafirm transactions take place, as between a production division and a division that consumes
the product, but by keeping all transactions with the firm, it can set and control the terms of
transaction. The choice of whether to select the market or expand the firm depends on the
relative efficiency of transactions both within and external to the firm. An analogy between
the state's annona militaris and the church's production and extraction systems on the one
hand, and the firm on the other, although not exact in every detail, can nevertheless be made.
By encapsulating the modes of production, as well as distribution and consumption within
their closed systems, the state or church could set and enforce the terms of production, distribution, and consumption as it served them best while avoiding marketplace transaction
costs and disruptions. In other words, amphora standardization may have been developed as
a means of monitoring intrafirm transactions and meeting the needs of internal bureaucratic
practices, like record keeping. 23 This solution, however, is complicated by asking why the
state or church would need a plethora of amphora sizes for their own purposes within such
RESTUDY OF LR2 AMPHORAS

31

a narrow capacity spectrum when fewer sizes across a broader spectrum might seem more
intuitive. In sum, as we begin to observe more evidence for standardization in the globular
jars from the Yass1ada shipwreck, we are only beginning to realize the complexity of what
standardization means and how it is situated within institutional settings.
NOTES

1. G. F. Bass, "The Pottery;' in Yassi Ada, Volume I: A Seventh-Century Byzantine Shipwreck, ed.
G. F. Bass and F. H. van Doorninck, p. 161.
2. In the 1982 report, the cylindrical jars received the designation "Type I;' while the globular jars
were called "Type 2:' These types have no relationship to the typology developed by J. A. Riley, "The
Coarse Pottery from Benghazi;' in Sidi Khrebish Excavations, Benghazi (Berenice), ed. ]. A. Lloyd,
pp. 91-467, for Late Roman Amphoras or to the project typology used below. For the sake of convenience the class designations initially used by Bass and van Doorninck, "cylindrical" and "globular,"
are maintained here when speaking of the YaSSlada amphoras generally. The cylindrical jars correspond to the type designation "Late Roman Amphora l" (LRl; D. P. S. Peacock and D. F. Williams,
Amphorae and the Roman Economy: An Introductory Guide, p. 185; D. F. Williams, "Late Roman
Amphora 1: A Study of Diversification;' in Trade Relations in the Eastern Mediterranean from Late
Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity: The Ceramic Evidence, ed. M. Briese Berg and L. E. Vaag, pp. 15768). The globular jars of Types I-IV and S corres~ond to "Late Roman Amphora 2" (LR2; Peacock
and Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy, p. 182; 0. Karagiourgou, "LR2: a Container for
the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?" in Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean
during Late Antiquity, ed. S. Kingsley and M. Deckner, pp. 129-66).
3. The ongoing restudy project would not be possible without the assistance of the Bodrum
Museum of Underwater Archaeology staff, particularly interim director, Yaar Y1ld1z, and the assistance of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology's (INA) Bodrum staff, particularly Tuba Ekmek<;:i, Esra
Altmanit, and former chief conservator Asaf Oron. Funding for the project has come from INA and a
National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend (2007). I thank Frederick van DoorninckJr.,
Sebastian Heath, Mark Lawall, and MiierrefYetim for their comments on earlier drafts; I also thank
Stephanie Koenig and MiierrefYetim for preparing the figures.
4. F. H. van Doorninck Jr., "The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yass1 Ada and the 11th
Century Ser<;:e Limam Shipwrecks: Two Examples of a Reuse of Byzantine Amphoras as Transport
Jars;' in Recherches sur la ciramique byzantine BCH suppl. 18, ed. V. Deroche and J.-M. Spieser, pp.
247-57.
S. M. Wallace, "Standardization in Greek Amphora Capacities;' in Transport Amphorae and Trade
in the Eastern Mediterranean. Acts of an International Colloqium of the Danish Institute ofAthens,
26-29 September 2002, ed.]. Eiring andJ. Lund, pp. 429-32.
6. P. G. van Alfen, "New Light on the 7th-C. Yass1 Ada Shipwreck: Capacities and Standard Sizes
ofLRAl Amphoras;' ]RA 9 (1996): 189-213.
7. Van Doorninck, in fact, referred to these as "subtypes;' not "types." The possibility that there
may be subtypes of these subtypes renders this designation hierarchy awkward. For the sake of simplicity, the earlier subtypes are here merely "types." As our study progresses further, redesignation of
the amphoras will likely prove necessary, in which case we shall provide, in our final publication, a
concordance of all our previously published working terms. Nevertheless, our aim is not to promulgate further confusion in amphora designations, but to stay within the current system of Late Roman
Amphora typologies and terminology by creating subsets of recognized classes, e.g., LR2, Yassiada
subtype I, vel sim.
8. Karagiourgou, "LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?" p. 141.
9. These include overall height, maximum diameter, height at maximum diameter, neck height,
rim height, external mouth diameter, internal mouth diameter, minimum neck diameter, maximum
neck diameter, handle width, handle thickness, and body wall thickness. Van Doorninck's developed
methodology for taking each of these measurements includes safeguards to ensure accuracy and consistency. Also, it should again be emphasized that only ca. 150, or about 25 percent, of the globular
jars stored in the Bodrum Museum are complete. The rest exist in states of preservation ranging from a

32

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neck and handle stubs only to jars otherwise complete but missing portions of the body sidewall such
that it makes capacity measurement impossible. The total number oflinear measurements taken on an
example is thus a function of its state of preservation.
10. These are for the body (fig. 2.8): overall height, maximum diameter, height at maximum diameter; and for the neck (fig. 2.15): maximum diameter, minimum diameter, internal mouth diameter,
height.
11. The Byzantine lepton is a linear measurement equal to 0.975 cm.
12. Van Doorninck discusses these issues of size gradation in greater detail and at greater length
in Chapter 17.
13. The capacities of the Type I and II globular jars range between 32 and 40 L; for the linear
dimensions, see figs. 2.9-2.14. While capacity measurements have yet to be completed on Type III
and IV amphoras, their linear dimensions are virtually identical to those of Types I and II, suggesting
that their capacities will also line up with Types I and II, for which see van Doorninck in Chapter 17.
14. Ethnographic studies of modern Mediterranean-region workshops engaged in producing
large amphora-like containers, like the one studied by P. Nicholson and H. Patterson, "Pottery Making in Upper-Egypt: An Ethnoarchaeological Study;' World Archaeology 17.2 ( 1985): 222-39, illustrate how such a division of!abor between the more- and less-skilled in the construction of the jars
might have been arranged. For a recent experiment in reproducing LRl amphoras, see S. Demesticha,
"Experimenting on Amphora Manufacture;' in E. Karpodini-Dimitriadi, ed. Ethnography ofEuropean
Traditional Cultures: Arts, Crafts, Techniques ofHeritage. European Seminar III-Proceedings (1998),
pp. 139-48.
15. The implications of intra-shop standardization for both production specialization and intensity have been widely explored in anthropological literature; see, for example, V. Roux, "Ceramic Standardization and Intensity of Production: ~antifying Degrees of Specialization;' American Antiquity
68.4 (2003): 768-82. While internal mechanisms for standardization may have developed within
workshops, it is our contention that the standardization we observe was externally directed, although
the mechanism remains to be identified (see below). Van Doorninck noted, as a rough blueprint, that
the potters of the globular jars followed a standard set of amphora dimensions in which the overall
amphora height is 48 lepta (ca. 53 cm), the height and interior maximum diameter of the body are
three-quarters of the overall height, and the height and maximum diameter of the neck are one-quarter
of the overall height ("The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th Century Yass1 Ada and the 11th Century
Sen;:e Limani Shipwrecks;' pp. 247-57). Our recent work suggests that this outline might have been
refined still more, perhaps with lists of specific measurements for each component.
16. Among the Type III, IV, and S jars there are a few examples of smaller globular jars that are
roughly half the size in capacity and body dimensions of the more common larger (32- to 40-L) jars.
The focus in this report is exclusively on the larger jars, although the linear dimensions for the smaller
jars are included in figs. 2.9-2.14 and 2.16-2.2'.).
17. Justin Leidwanger is currently analyzing fabric samples taken from the Yass1ada cylindrical and
globular amphoras. The preliminary results of his study will be published in the near future.
18. We might, for example, imagine kommerkiarioi, Byzantine agents trading overseas on behalf of
the state, simultaneously engaged in private transactions for their own benefit; see N. Oikonomides,
"The Role of the Byzantine State in the Economy;' in The Economic History ofByzantium: From the
Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century, ed. A. E. Laiou, pp. 984-85. Such activity on board a ship
could be manifested by state-owned amphoras being distributed within the annona system side by
side with amphoras intended for the market. Also see B. Sirks, Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of
the Transportation and Processing ofSupplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople,
passim, for overlapping between the annona system and the market.
19. There is, unfortunately, comparatively little textual evidence for the later sixth- and early
seventh-century systems of commodity extraction and distribution by the church and state; see
A. E. Laiou, "Economic and Noneconomic Exchange;' in The Economic History of Byzantium from
the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, ed. A. E. Laiou, passim, and Oikonomides, "The Role of
the Byzantine State in the Economy;' pp. 973-1058. Indeed, the (inter)relationship between state,
church, and commercial mechanisms for long distance exchange in this period, and those bracketing
it, especially as evidenced by LR 1 and 2 amphoras, is an issue that is far from settled; see S. Kings-

RESTUDY OF LR2 AMPHORAS

33

ley and M. Decker, "New Rome, New Theories on Inter-Regional Exchange. An Introduction to the
East Mediterranean Economy in Late Antiquity;' in Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean
During Late Antiquity, ed. S. Kingsley and M. Decker, pp.1-27; Karagiourgou, "LR2: a Container
for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?" pp. 129-66; Demesticha, "Some Thoughts on
the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora 13 on Cyprus;' in Trade Relations in the
Eastern }.fediterranean .from Late Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity: The Ceramic Evidence, ed. M.
Briese Berg and L. E. Vaag, pp. 169-78; Williams, "Late Roman Amphora 1: A Study of Diversification;' pp. 157 -68.
20. For an overview of the concept of transaction costs, its formative role within neo-institutional
economics, and its applicability to ancient economic history, see A. Bresson, Leconomie de la Grece des
cites, Vol.!: Les structures et la production, pp. 23-35 and B. W. Frier and P. Kehoe, "Law and Economic
Institutions;' in The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, ed. W. Scheidel et al.,
pp. 113-42.
21. One market-based mechanism that might have encouraged widespread production of LRl
and LR2 amphoras, standardized or not, is the phenomenon of imitation. Amphora producers may
have copied a prototype design because it signaled an elevated degree of desirability and thus greater
marketability; see N. Rauh, "Pirated knock-offs: Cilician imitations of internationally traded amphoras;' in Transport amphorae and trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Acts ofan international colloqium
of the Danish Institute ofAthens, 26-29 September 2002, ed.]. Eiring and]. Lund, pp. 329-36. A
collection of essays edited by Mark Lawall and mJ'self, which are based on a workshop held at the
University of Manitoba in November 2007, deal with the theoretical problems of imitation in ancient
amphoras, coinage, and perfume. See M. L. and P. van Alfen, "Caveat Emptor: A Collection of Papers
on Imitations in Ancient Greco-Roman Commerce;' in Marburger Beitrage zur Antiken Handels-,
Wirtschafi:s- und Sozialgeschichte 28, 2010.
22. For an overview of current approaches to the theory of the firm and neo-institutionalism,
see V. Nee, "The New Institutionalisms in Economics and Sociology;' in The Handbook ofEconomic
Sociology, ed. N.]. Smelser and R. Swedberg, pp. 49-74.
23. The presence of ca. 120 LRl and ca. 30 LR2 (or LR13, see Demesticha, "Some Thoughts on
the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora 13 on Cyprus;' p. 174) amphoras in an
ecclesiastical complex on Samos, which appears to have been producing oil and wine, nicely illustrates
aspects of commodity production within the church system ( C. Steckner, "Les amphores LR 1 and
LR 2 en relation avec le pressior du complexe ecclesiastique des thermes de Samos;' in Recherches sur
la ceramique byzantine. BCH suppl. 18, ed. V. Deroche and].-M. Spieser, pp. 57-71; Karagiourgou,
"LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?" pp. 141-42). What is less clear
is whether the amphoras used in this facility were commissioned by the facility and delivered new, or
if the amphoras were older jars that were being reused, or if there was a combined use of new and old
jars. On the question ofLR2 reuse at this time, see van Doorninck, "The Cargo Amphoras on the 7th
Century Yass1 Ada and the 11th Century Srn;e Limam Shipwrecks;' pp. 247-57 and Karagiourgou,
"LR2: a Container for the Military Annona on the Danubian Border?" pp. 138-39. For evidence that
LRl and LR13 (or LR2?) amphoras were being produced simultaneously in a Pap hos, Cyprus workshop, see Demesticha, "Some Thoughts on the Production and Presence of the Late Roman Amphora
13 on Cyprus;' pp. 169-78.

34

VAN ALFEN