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Elizabeth S. Greene: Transport Amphoras from the Archaic Shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey

Date and Time: 
Friday, May 14, 2021. 12:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
Standardization in Ancient Economies 2020
Meeting Description: 

This paper offers an investigation into an assemblage of cargo amphoras from the sixth-century BCE shipwreck at Pabuç Burnu, Turkey. The jars are connected by broadly similar formal characteristics and dimensions based on a southeast Aegean regional style, but their fabrics reveal an assortment of clay sources and their volumes adhere only minimally to identifiable standards. In exploring the meaning of these metric and other variations, Greene considers how various concepts of standardization were approached in the Archaic Mediterranean world and how the recognition of flexible systems of measurement—visible also in historical and literary sources—offers new options for thinking about the role and agency of containers at multiple economic stages from production to consumption. The presence and absence of different facets of standardization in the Pabuç Burnu assemblage suggest a vital role for embedded social relationships among local potters, producers, sailors, merchants, and consumers for whom abstract concepts of economic efficiency and transaction costs were surely less critical than practical mechanisms of transport on land and sea or market-based interactions.

Elizabeth S. Greene is associate professor of Classics at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Her research focuses on the material remains of interaction in the Archaic and Classical Greek world and the development of ancient maritime economies across the Mediterranean. For nearly two decades she has directed fieldwork on shipwrecks and harbor sites off the Turkish coast, and more recently along the coast of southeast Sicily. As Vice President for Cultural Heritage of the Archaeological Institute of America and now its First Vice President, her work involves heritage preservation and advocacy; recent efforts highlight connections between long-term human mobility and contemporary dialogs on migration and displacement.

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