Importare, produrre e consumare nella laguna di Venezia dal IV al XII secolo
Anfore, vetri e ceramiche
The objective of this study is to deal with the long-term characters and consumption patterns in the Venetian lagoon in the period ranging from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages on the basis of existing archaeological documentation. The most archaeologically visible materials and, namely, pottery, amphorae and glass were materials taken into consideration. As a consequence of this analysis, three principal periods have been identified. A first phase, in Late Antiquity, documents a reasonably widespread circulation of imported Mediterranean ceramics (African and Eastern) and amphorae originating from the same areas. Along with a significant number of imports from distant places, this period also saw imports such as coarse pottery, single-fired glazed pottery and glass from neighbouring areas. This data seems to indicate a certain vitality in the lagoon in this period, which could be related to it being central to the traffic of the new political orders in the North Adriatic. Moreover, the following period, from the 8th to the 10th Century, coincided with a period of the stabilization and of institutional consolidation of a number of lagoon settlements as in Torcello and the same Olivolo/Rialto. It also marked a total decline in imports of both wide and medium range along with a significant reduction in the use of coarse cooking pottery and glass kitchenware. The sole exception is represented by single-fired glazed pottery produced in the North Adriatic which during the 9th and 11th Centuries was widespread in the lagoon. It is probable that this situation is a snapshot of a change that occurred in the behaviour of the lagoon communities and underscores close links to the Po valley and continental worlds rather than a loosening of economic and commercial ties, indirectly confirmed by written sources and by findings of moneys and amphorae. Therefore, it could also have been a symptom of cultural distance with reference models of the Byzantine area. At the same time, it was in this period that the production of glass was consolidated as represented by the Torcello context, if this can be dated from the 9th Century and not from the 7th as originally proposed. A change in this field was only registered after the year 1000 A.D. even if there were only few Mediterranean imports during the 11th Century consisting, currently, in a Constantinople ‘Glazed White Ware’ from the Monastery of Saints Hillary and Benedict in Gambarare (Mira) and a few fragments of Egyptian ‘Fayyumi Ware’ from Jesolo. Despite long commercial relations between Venice and Byzantium, on the one hand, and Islam (in particular Egypt) on the other, no changes in the lagoon elite, especially with reference to ceramics and as seen from the materials, occurred until well into the 12th Century. Rather than marking the existence or consolidation of these ties in this period, Byzantine sgraffito and Islamic fritware imports indicate how the Venetian elite started to slowly adapt to tastes that had long since been prevalent in contemporary Mediterranean societies.