Roman trade and economy in the Po valley
My research is based on the archaeological evidence of the area roughly comprised in the modern province of Cremona in Northern Italy where two sites placed along the Po and Oglio rivers have been carefully excavated: the colony of Cremona, founded in 218 BC north of the Po river, and the vicus of Bedriacum, nearby the modern village of Calvatone (C2 BC-AD 4C).
Both the settlements were set in the middle of a complex trade network based on roads and rivers which connected both sites to the rich city of Aquileia and the Adriatic coast and to the Eastern Mediterranean. (Publications)
Cremona, the Domus di Piazza Marconi
The recent excavation of an impressive domus in the very heart of the city of Cremona (the Domus di Piazza Marconi), destroyed by Vespasian's troops in AD 69 and subsequently rebuilt, has led to the discovery of an impressive amount of amphorae, either used in the daily life of the house or in the drainage system that was put in place at the very beginning of the occupation of the site.
The aim of my research is to understand the role played by the newly settled colonists in establishing a new trade system in the very heart of the Po plain, contributing to the dramatic change of both material culture and taste and dietary habits in the area, previously occupied by people of Celtic origin. In AD69 the city of Cremona was completely destroyed by Vespasian and layers of burned and collapsed structures were clearly recognizable in the excavation of Piazza Marconi. The presence of a secure terminus post quem is extremely important in establishing the pattern distribution of amphorae in the city after the second half of the AD1C. I am currently investigating if and at what extent the dramatic events that characterized the city after Nero's death influenced its position within northern Italy trade network.
Colonies, marketplaces and countryside. Cremona, Bedriacum and the long distance trade with the Adriatic sea and the Eastern Mediterranean
Although research based on the archaeological evidence of colonies and smaller settlements in the area comprised between the Oglio and Po rivers has demonstrated that all settlements preferabily imported wine and oil from the Adriatic sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, my research has emphasized how commercial routes changed depending on the dimension and the disposition of settlements. Both Cremona and Bedriacum were set in a contiguous network of rivers and roads, however they received different kinds of goods coming from different areas of Italy's Adriatic coast. For example, Dressel 6A amphorae, which are likely to appear in Cremona in levels of the end of the C 1BC-AD 1C, are indeed very rare at Bedriacum.
Moreover, during Late Antiquity the countryside seems to be more open to amphora trade than the colony of Cremona: the evidence from the site of Bedriacum demonstrates that even in AD 4-5C wine and olive amphorae were regularily imported in small quantities.
Alum import in the Po plain. The evidence from Bedriacum
The find of a consistent amount of Richborough 527 type amphorae at Bedriacum has led me to suggest the existence of a specialized craft production not yet highligthted from other archaeological sources. The amphorae are chronologically consistent (AD mid 1-2C) and where probably used to transport alum extracted from the island of Lipari, near Sicily. Their presence at Bedriacum is exciting because the evidence of trade connections with the Tyrrenian sea and the Po plain is rare. The presence of alum amphorae at Bedriacum is probably linked to some medicinal preparation or specialized craft production, like dyeing and bleaching of textiles and leather tanning (Pliny, N.H., 35.52).
Left: distribution map of Richborough 527 amphorae (from Ravasi 2005: fig. 4). Above: Rich. 527 amphorae from Bedriacum and stamp C.C.ATID (Ibid: fig. 3).