9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Indelicato et al

Pitch and wine in the ancient world: from Bruttium to Etna

Mario Indelicato (University of Catania ), Daniele Malfitana (Institute for Archaeological and Monumental Heritage of National Research Council ), Giuseppe Cacciaguerra (Institute for Archaeological and Monumental Heritage of National Research Council)

The project we intend to present is a spin-off of the project ‘Archaeology of wine: a Sicilian experiment’ and it will try to provide archaeologists with a clear picture of the various bituminous or resinous substances, vegetable or mineral, used in antiquity for multiple purposes: from the preparation of adhesives to medicaments production for human and animal use; in particular, we will focus on the use as a sealant for containers used to carry wine, especially in Roman times.

Famous and prized in the ancient world was the so-called produced “pix Bruttia”, that is, in the mountains of Regio III Lucania et Bruttii (modern Calabria) i.e. the Silae Silva (now Sila) rich in tree species naturally endowed with abundant resin (mainly Pinus nigra laricio) and exploited up to our times. However, in all places with woods or forests with trees suitable for the extraction of resin or pitch existed in the Mediterranean area local productions, abundant or less abundant; from ancient and modern sources we know that even the woods of Etna were a district for the production of these substances.

Using as fundamental support Latin written sources, but also an important ethnographic and scientific aid, our aim is, therefore, to perform a small production of ‘pitch’ coming from woods of Etna. We will use it then to make the wine vats waterproof. These vats will be used for the first ‘roman harvest’, core of this project.

Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder

De Re Rustica by Lucius Columella

Il libro di Ruggero by Al-Idrisi, , in M. Amari, Biblioteca arabo-sicula, Torino-Roma, 1880  Piccioli et alii 1979: Costituenti acidi di una oleoresina di conifere rinvenuta in anfore vinarie durante gli scavi archeologici di Oplonti, in, Annali Fac Agr Napoli, Napoli 1979.

Tchernia – Brun 1999: A. Tchernia e J.-P. Brun, Le vin romain antique, Grenoble 1999.

Dal Ri – Tecchiati 2003: Una distilleria di pece della fine dell’età del bronzo al Lago di Ledro in Trentino (Longhini-Assat), in Schneckenburger G. (ed.), Attraverso le Alpi. Uomini, Vie, Beni, Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 2003.

Cosco 2010: La Via della Pece. L’antica arte della resinazione nel Parco Nazionale della Sila, Cosenza 2010.

Indelicato 2014, Una vigna “romana” archeo-sperimentale alle pendici dell’Etna, in D. Malfitana- G. Cacciaguerra, Archeologia Classica in Sicilia e nel Mediterraneo. Didattica e ricerca nell’esperienza mista CNR e Università. Il contributo delle giovani generazioni



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