A preliminary assessment on the pottery assemblage from the port town of Adulis (Eritrea)

Chiara Zazzaro and Andrea Manzo (in collaboration with Ghirmay Teklemariam, Mehretab Tabo Sium, Thomas Tesfagiyorgis Paulos)

Adulis was one of the most prominent port towns in the Red Sea during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The site is located few kilometres inland from the Eritrean coast and was a crossroads for trade between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Excavations conducted by the British Museum first in 1868, then later by the archaeologists Richard Sundström and Roberto Paribeni at the beginning of the 20th century and by Francis Anfray in the 1960s revealed the importance and richness of the town site. Monumental buildings, churches and large housing compounds were uncovered, while test pits excavated by Paribeni also revealed the presence of different phases of occupation. More recently, surface investigations conducted by the University of Southampton added further information on the topography of the ancient town and its context within the environment and surrounding coastal region. Nevertheless, the lack of stratigraphic excavations at the site prevented the creation of a reliable sequence and dating for the pottery assemblage found in Adulis. A re-examination of the pottery collections, conducted in 2004–2005 and 2011 in the storerooms of the museums of Addis Ababa and Asmara, aimed to provide further information about trade contacts and the people who inhabited the site. In January 2011, the National Museum of Asmara, CeRDO (Eastern Desert Research Center), the Museum of Rovereto and the CGT (Centre of Geological Technologies) of the University of Siena resumed archaeological excavations in Adulis. The project aimed to expose monumental buildings excavated in the past and to better understand the stratigraphic sequence. This paper brings together the study of pottery collections from past excavations and the recent stratigraphic excavation conducted in the south-eastern sector of the site. A preliminary contextualisation of the pottery assemblage in the different phases of occupation and a preliminary dating will be provided.

A preliminary assessment on the pottery assemblage from the port town of Adulis (Eritrea)

To reference this article we suggest:

Zazzaro, Chiara and Andrea Manzo. 2012. A preliminary assessment on the pottery assemblage from the port town of Adulis (Eritrea) (in collaboration with Ghirmay Teklemariam, Mehretab Tabo Sium, Thomas Tesfagiyorgis Paulos). BMSAES 18: 233–46. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_18/zazzaro_and_manzo.aspx

Contact the authors
c.zazzaro@exeter.ac.uk 
amanzo@unior.it