Imperial wine-making in Roman Italy
In the latest issue of Current World Archaeology , due out on 24 March, Professor Maureen Carroll discusses the latest evidence for wine production on the Roman imperial estate that she, along with the help of Sheffield and international students, has been excavating at Vagnari, southern Italy.
The article, ‘Vagnari: Where wine-making became an imperial business', documents the discovery of the large complex, the South Building, in the summer of 2015 season. The excavation of large circular plastered basins, inserted into a thick mortar paving adjacent to the South Building, suggest the area was a cella vinaria, a wine fermentation and storage room, in which wine vessels (dolia defossa) were fixed into the ground.
Read more about the excavation of the dolia in a recent Past Horizons article here
Vagnari is situated in a valley of the Basentello river, just east of the Apennine mountains in Puglia (ancient Apulia) in south-east Italy. After the Roman conquest of the region in the 2nd c. B.C., Vagnari was linked to Rome by one of Italy’s main Roman roads, the Via Appia. Maureen Carroll’s archaeological project at the site has the in-depth exploration of the agricultural and industrial vicus –the estate village- as its focus. The main objectives have been to investigate the buildings, the economy, and the role of slave and free labour in the vicus, with a particular focus on public and private facilities and industrial production (including lead smelting).
Maureen works in collaboration with an international team of scholars investigating other aspects of the archaeology of Vagnari and the surrounding region. Each year her team includes students from our department, providing them with an invaluable experience of excavating abroad and in the heart of the Roman empire. Two of those students, Kathryn Goulding and Marcus Losty, tell us about their experiences at Vagnari in 2015 here.
For more information on Maureen’s Vagnari project: