Category Archive 'Olive Oil'

21 Jun 2016

Rome Has a Hill Made Up Entirely of Ancient Amphorae Shards

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The Vintage News:

Monte Testaccio or also known as Monte dei Cocci (literally meaning “Mount of Shards”) is an artificial mound in Rome composed almost entirely of testae, fragments of broken amphorae dating from the time of the Roman Empire, some of which were labelled with tituli picti. It is one of the largest spoil heaps found anywhere in the ancient world, covering an area of 220,000 sq ft at its base and with a volume of approximately 760,000 cu yd, containing the remains of an estimated 53 million amphorae.

The huge numbers of broken amphorae at Monte Testaccio illustrate the enormous demand for oil of imperial Rome, which was at the time the world’s largest city with a population of at least one million people. It has been estimated that the hill contains the remains of as many as 53 million olive oil amphorae, in which some 61.3 billion imperial gallons/1.6 billion U.S. gallons of oil were imported. Studies of the hill’s composition suggest that Rome’s imports of olive oil reached a peak towards the end of the 2nd century AD, when as many as 130,000 amphorae were being deposited on the site each year. The vast majority of those vessels had a capacity of some 15 imp gal; 18 U.S. gal; from this it has been estimated that Rome was importing at least 1.6 million imperial gal/2 million U.S. gal of olive oil annually. As the vessels found at Monte Testaccio appear to represent mainly state-sponsored olive oil imports, it is very likely that considerable additional quantities of olive oil were imported privately.

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