Archaeometric Study of Amphorae Assemblages from the Red Sea Coast of Eritrea
This research centres on a comprehensive archaeometric study of amphorae assemblages recovered from excavations in the archaeological site of Adulis
in the Red Sea Coast of Eritrea. The study of the so called Ayla-Aksum amphorae, which are among the most widespread vessels for trading products
in the Red Sea region between the 4th and 7th century CE, is tackled for provenance attribution. These amphorae assemblages are presumed to have been produced
in the kilns of present day Aqaba in Jordan and yet due to their wider circulation in the Red Sea ports in antiquity compelled archaeologists to hypothesize
other production centers might have existed elsewhere. At present, a comprehensive archaeometric study of amphorae assemblages from the African side of the
Red Sea is lacking. Adulis was the major trading hub of the Red Sea's African coast during the late Roman and the Byzantine Periods, providing a context to
study patterns of pottery production, distribution and exchange in the Red Sea world during the 1st millennium CE. The frontiers of contact between the
Roman and Byzantine worlds to the civilization of southern Red Sea, have been approached from multiple proxies and archaeometric studies of pottery assemblages
are least understood.
A large corpus of Ayla-Aksum amphorae has been uncovered from different archaeological contexts in the on-going excavations at Adulis. Fabric variability
and multiple stratigraphic contexts offer the opportunity to study these amphorae assemblages. Archaeological contexts that span from the 5th -7th century
CE at Adulis correspond to the major epoch of the circulation of Ayla-Aksum amphorae in the Red Sea ports in antiquity. A substantial number of Ayla-Aksum
shreds have been obtained for this study together with different classes representing Late Roman 1 amphorae, local pottery and clusters of dolia and brick samples.
The study of raw local clay samples is also sought.
A multi-analytical approach that combines optical microscopy, XRD, SEM-EDS, PIXE and ICP-OES is adopted in this research for mineralogical and geo-chemical
characterization. Moreover, the use of FT-IR and GC-MS is required for organic residue analysis on selected samples. Access to different analytical facilities
is sought in collaborating institutions.
The main collaborations are with Centro Ricerche sul Deserto Orientale (Ce.R.D.O), Centro Conservazione e Restauro La Venaria Reale, TecnArt S.r.l., Geosciences
Department at University of Padova and IGG-CNR (Lara Maritan), the departments of Chemistry (Monica Gulmini and Patriziz Davit) and Earth Sciences (Roberto Giustetto)
of University of Torino.
In the figures are shown respectively: the geographical position of the Adulis site and an Ayla amphorae from the Red Sea coast of Eritrea.