Pots as packaging


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Pots as packaging the Spanish olive jar and Andalusian transatlantic commercial activity, 16th-18th centuries
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xi, 332 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Avery, George, 1967-
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Anthropology thesis, Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1997.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 233-268).
Statement of Responsibility:
by George Avery.
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General Note:

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University of Florida
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aleph - 028000165
oclc - 37801082
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I am grateful for financial assistance from the following organizations: various

teaching and administrative assistantships from the University of Florida; a travel grant to

Spain to participate in a geological survey from The Tinker Foundation; a partial

scholarship from the Foundation for Field Research to participate in a geological survey in

southern Spain; and a three-month stipend to conduct archival research in Spain from The

Florida-Spain Alliance Exchange Program.

My committee members Frank Blanchard (retired), David Clark, Murdo

MacLeod, Jerald Milanich, and Prudence Rice are acknowledged for their inspiration in

the classroom and their guidance. I am especially grateful to Kathleen Deagan, my

committee chair, for her continued support and encouragement, and for making all the

arrangements for my defense. Maurice Williams of the Florida Museum of Natural History

was most helpful in facilitating all the critical administrative requirements. Other professors

at the University of Florida whose classes or association contributed to the ideas formulated

in this dissertation include Bruce Chappell, Anthony Oliver-Smith, and Gerald Murray.

My thanks go to the staffs of the Archivo General de Indias and the Archivo

Municipal in Sevilla, Spain, and also to the following professors from the University of

Sevilla: Alfonso Pleguezuelo Hemaindez, Antonio Miguel Bemal, and Antonio Collantes

de Terdn SAnchez. Femando Amores Carredano and Nieves Chisvert Jim6nez of the

Cartuja de Santa Marta de Las Cuevas project in Sevilla were very accommodating in

several tours of the site of Expo '92. Steven Mitchell's direction of geological survey in

southern Spain is acknowledged, and the hard work of project members Joanne Dumene,

Jean Morrissey, and Beverly Shea resulted in extensive coverage in only two weeks.

I am indebted to Mitchell Marken the reigning olive jar guru for long

discussions on olive jars, and for demonstrating in his book that much can be learned from

olive jars.

Olive jar fragments in the following repositories were examined, and I express my

gratitude to the individuals listed in association with the repository for all of their help with

the collections: Museo de las Casas Reales, Santo Domingo Luisa de Pefia D.; Florida

Bureau of Archaeological Research, Tallahassee James Levy and Frank Gilson;

Seahawk Deep Sea Ocean Technology, Tampa Jennette Flow; Mel Fisher Maritime

Heritage Society, Key West Corey Malcom and David Moore; Emanuel Point

Shipwreck Project, Pensacola Roger Smith and Debra Wells; and Concepci6n de la

Vega, Dominican Republic Serafin Vasques. Billy Ray Morris made available olive jar

rims from the wreck of the Galgo.

Helen Martin of the Graduate School's Editorial Office is to be commended for her

timely and thorough review of a manuscript much in need of editorial assistance. Karen

Jones, the virtual "dean" of all anthropology graduate students was a great help in getting

me through the final administrative challenges.

Finally, the continued support of my family throughout this whole thing is

gratefully acknowledged.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...................................................................ii-iii

LIST OF TABLES....................................................... ................... vii

LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................... viii-ix

ABSTRA CT .......................................................... ....................... -xi


1 INTRODUCTION......................................................................... 1

H historical Setting ............................................................................ 3
The Spanish Olive Jar..................................................................... 8
A Multidisciplinary Approach.......................................................... 10

AND ITS MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH .................................. 13

Introduction ...................................... ....................................... 13
Historical Methods and Historical Archaeology ..................................... 14
Archaeological Methods and Historical Archaeology ............................... 17
Technological Methods in Archaeology............................................... 18
Toward a Descriptive Model of Spanish Olive Jar Production -
Hypotheses and Their Test Implications ......................................... 20

THE HISTORICAL UNIQUENESS OF SPAIN................................... 23

Introduction .............................. ................................................ 23
The "Rise of Capitalism" and the "Decline of Spain". .............................. 24
Geology and Geography The Uniqueness of Spain.............................. 29
Invasion and Regionalism.............................................................. 32
The Iberian Peninsula and the Ancient World: Political Economy ................ 36
The Iberian Peninsula and the Fall of the Roman Empire: Political Economy..... 40
The Iberian Peninsula and the Middle Ages: Political Economy .................. 42
Castile in the 15th-17th centuries: Political Economy .............................. 48
Intolerance of Ethnic Diversity and the "Decline" of Spain......................... 55
Ideology and the "Decline" of Spain Santiago, El Cid,
and the Spanish "Character" .................................................. 56
D discussion ......................................... ......... ....... ...... ....... ..... 60
Conclusions ............................................ ................................ 61

SUPPORT COMMODITY PRODUCTION ......................................... 63

Introduction ............................ ........................ .......................... 63
The Canaanite Jar (1800 B.C. 1200 B.C.)................................... 65
Phoenician and Punic Amphoras (1200 B.C. 200 B.C.)... ............. 66
Greek Amphoras (700 B.C. 86 B.C.) ........................................ 68
Roman Amphoras (130 B.C. A.D. 395)............................................ 71
Byzantine Amphoras (A.D. 395-1453)......................................... 80
Medieval Amphoras in Spain..... .................................. ..... 82
D discussion ..................................... ..... ....... ................................. 85

AND FUNCTION.................................................................. .. .... 89

The Spanish Olive Jar Terminology ................................ .... 89
The Spanish Olive Jar Summary of Previous Investigations ...... .......... 92
Spanish Olive Jar Form and Chronology...... .......................... 95
Spanish Olive Jars Technological Studies ..................................... 99
Olive Jar M anufacture....................... ........................................ 100
Spanish Olive Jar Function... ................................. ........ 102
Olive Jar Rim Morphology ... .... ..................................... 103
The Archaeological Data Set Shipwreck and Terrestrial Assemblages ........... 124
D iscussion............................ ................................................ 128

6 THE TECHNOLOGICAL DATA SET............................................ 130

Geology of Andalusia A Brief Summary ...... ....................... 131
Geological Survey........................................................ 133
Clay Analysis ............................................. ........ 133
Clay Sample Preparation.......................................... 134
Firing ....... ............. ........ .... ........ ...... ...... ..... .. ... ..... .. 136
Discussion of Performance Attribute Analysis of Clay Samples.................. 140
Thin Section Analysis....................... ........................................ 140
Discussion of Thin Section Analysis Clay Samples.......... ..145
Discussion of Thin Section Analysis Olive Jar Sherds.... ............ 146
Summary and Conclusions.................................................147


Introduction ............................................................................. 149
Historical Studies of the Spanish Late Medieval and Colonial Period Economy.. 149
Development of Maritime Tradition in Andalusia ..... ....................... 152
The Carrera de las Indias .... ..................................... ..... 156
The Carrera Administration........................................................ 157
The Fleet System 16th and 17th centuries ........................................159
The Fleet System 18th century ...................................................... 161
The Carrera The Merchants......................................................... 162
The M anifests Registros ........................................................... 164

The Carrera Provisioning the Ships ... ......................... ........ 165
The Carrera Commodities....................................... 166
The Carrera Commodities Wine, Wheat, and Olive Oil ..................... 169
Wine and Olive Oil Production in Seville and Vicinity............................. 170
The Wine and Olive Oil Trade Europe............................. .... 175
The Wine and Olive Oil Trade Europe Containers .... ..................177
The Carrera Containers.... ................................ ........ 179

THE ORGANIZATION OF PRODUCTION..................................... 184

Introduction ....................................................* ..............** ...... 184
Interareal Trade in the Indies Containers......................................... 184
Packaging Patterns Results of Archival Work............................. 186
Containers Commercial Wine ... ..................................... 189
Containers Olive Oil ................................................................ 190
Containers Commercial Vinegar ... .................................. 192
Containers Brandy...................... ......................................... 193
Containers Other Commodities................................................. 194
Containers Ship's Provisions ... ..................................... 195
Projecting Production Levels..................... ................. 199
Olive Jar M iscellaneous................................................... ................. 201
Organization of Labor and Production............................................... 209
The Guilds in Seville................. ............................................... 211
Potters in Seville........ ........................... ...... ................ .............. 212
Summ ary and Discussion............................................................... 217

9 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS................................................. 190

O verview ................................................................................. 2 19
Secondary Sources................................................ 220
Primary Sources ... ........................................................... 221
Archaeological Analysis ... ...................................... .........222
Discussion of Hypotheses............................................. .... 223
Conclusions and Suggestions for Further Research......................... 228

REFERENCES CITED ...............................................................233


1 TIM E LIN E ..................................................... ......................265

2 RIM MEASUREMENTS FROM WHOLE OLIVE JARS.......................269

SECONDARY SOURCES............................................................273

4 RESULTS OF REGISTRO ANALYSIS.........................................285

5 SUMMARY OF REGISTRO ANALYSIS...................................... 326

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SKETCH .................... ............. ....................332



1. Comparison of rim measurements on whole olive jars, unidentified
Seahawk shipwreck, 1622................................... 123

2. Measurement of cork stoppers for olive jars from the unidentified
Seahawk shipwreck, 1622.......................................... 123

3. Andalusian clay samples ..................................... .................... 134

4. Andalusian clay sample preparation notes..................................... 136

5. Results of Andalusian clay attribute analysis ................................. 137

6. Results of firing of Andalusian clay attribute analysis......................... 138

7. Archaeological contexts of thin sections of olive jars.......................... 141

8. Results of thin section analysis of clay samples................................ 142

9. Results of thin section analysis of olive jar sherds............................. 143

10. Summary of packaging from Diego Colon's flota of 1509 .....................180

11. Ordinance 131 of the Casa de Contrataci6n regarding tonnage................ 182

12. Documents examined from the Archivo General de Indias, Contratacion...... 187

13. Documents examine from the Archivo Municipal de Sevilla................... 188

14. Wooden vs. pottery container patterns for commercial wine and brandy ...... 199

15. Projected olive jar totals for commercial wine and olive oil.................... 200


1. Composite of amphora tradition..................................................... 2

2. Hapsburg Spain, 16th-17th century ................................................ 6

3. John Goggin's typology for the Spanish Olive Jar ................................. 9

4. Map of the Iberian peninsula showing major mountain ranges
and drainages ..................................................... ............. 30

5. Tectonic map of the Mediterranean region ..................................... 30

6. Language map of the Iberian peninsula......................................... 34

7. Roman amphoras and their contents............................................ 79

8. Medieval amphoras and cantimploras from the Iberian peninsula............ 84

9. Olive Jar term inology......................................... ..................... 90

10. New early-mid-16th century forms incorporated into Goggin's classification. 96

11. Hypothesized cantimplora manufacture ........................................101

12. John Goggin's hypothesized cantimplora manufacture ........................ 101

13. Hypothesized Shape A olive jar manufacture................................... 101

14. Twentieth-century Spanish olive jar function................................... 104

15. Rims from whole olive jars, unidentified 1622 wreck......................... 106

16. Olive jar rims from a mid-16th century shipwreck..............................107

17. Olive jar rims from 16th century shipwrecks................................... 108

18. Olive jar rims from the wreck of the San Martin. 1618........................ 110

19. Olive jar rims from the wreck of the Santa Margarita, 1622.............. 111-112

20. Shape A olive jar rims from unidentified 1622 shipwreck.............. 113-115

21. Olive jar rims from the wreck of the Concepci6n, 1641....................... 116

22. Olive jar rims from the plate fleet wrecks, 1715..................................117

23. Olive jar rims from the wrecks of the Guadalupe and Tolosd, 1724........... 118

24. Olive jar rims from the plate fleet wrecks, 1733................................ 119

25. A chronological framework for Middle Style Olive Jar Shape A rims......... 120

26. Olive jar rim measurements...................................................... 121

27. Geological map of the Iberian peninsula .......................................132

28. Geological map of Andalusia showing location of clay samples............. 132

29. Weekly menu for the frigate Jesus Nazareno bound for St. Augustine,
Florida, 1733 ................. ........................................ ........ 167

30. Map of the Alarafe region and selected cities in southern Spain.............. 171

31. Dispatch for shipping empty olive jars from Seville to Santa Marta ........... 197

32. Chronology of "specialized" names for olive jars used for
commercial wine, olive oil, and vinegar.................................... 202

33. Late 16th century examples of shipping manifest entries describing
olive jar packaging .............................................................. 203

34. Early 17th century examples of shipping manifest entries describing
olive jar packaging ....................................................... ...... 204

35. More early 17th century examples of shipping manifest entries
describing olive jar packaging ...............................................205

36. Early 18th century examples of shipping manifest entries describing
olive jar packaging ..................................... ....................... 206

37. Mid- 18th century example of shipping manifest entry describing
olive jar packaging ................................. .......................... 207

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



George Avery

August 1997

Chairperson: Dr. Kathleen Deagan
Major Department: Department of Anthropology

This study will integrate the methods of four disciplines archaeology, history,

geology, and material sciences within an anthropological framework to investigate the

effects of the American market on colonial period production strategy in 16th-18th century

Andalusia. The focus will be on the 350 year story of an artifact which was manufactured

explicitly for the Habsburg transatlantic commercial venture the Spanish olive jar. The

Spanish olive jar was the maritime transport container for wine and olive oil and, as such,

is a part of the amphora tradition. Studies of the amphoras antiquity will be reviewed to

generate a model of ceramic packaging production associated with the maritime transport of

liquid commodities. The data base will be generated from the following: 1. survey of

historical documents to investigate olive jar production levels, organization of labor, and

marketing/commercial use; 2. mineralogical analysis of olive jar sherds and comparison to

geological survey data from Spain to determine olive jar production locality; and 3.

technological analysis to investigate method of olive jar manufacture. Olive jars represent

both an important production industry and a commodity at the beginning of the 16th-

century are a central element in the transatlantic trade that developed during the 16th-18th

centuries. They are also abundant in both the archaeological and documentary records, and

thus provide a uniquely appropriate data base for this study.



Pottery has been central to commerce for millennia, serving as packaging for the

maritime transport of liquids and other commodities by Mediterranean societies from at

least 5000 B.C. to the present. The classic Greek and Roman amphoras, preceded by the

Canaanite and Phoenician Jars, served the various maritime powers of the ancient

Mediterranean and comprise what has been called the "amphora tradition" (Figure 1). Even

though all of the "amphora tradition" vessel forms are the product of literate societies,

documentary data alone have not been sufficient for understanding amphora economics.

Much of what has been learned about these containers has come from archaeologists using

methods of both the prehistorian and physical scientist in conjunction with the documentary

record. This multidisciplinary approach has been fruitful for understanding the nature of

amphora production and use, in addition to identifying distribution patterns of maritime

commerce in antiquity.

The Spanish olive jar is a representative of the amphora tradition in the modem age,

and during the 16th through 18th-centuries was a popular container for transporting wine,

olive oil, and a number of other commodities from Spain to the colonies across the Atlantic.

In spite of a richer documentary record, less is known about Spanish olive jar production

or function than Greek or Roman amphora production and function. Numerous Roman

amphora production sites in Spain have been investigated by archaeologists, and others

have been hypothesized based on mineralogical analysis, but to date, no such sites have

been located for Spanish-manufactured olive jars. Technological changes in Greek

Canaanite Jars
-1400-1200 B.C.

Phoenician Amphoras
-900-600 B.C.



0 0

Punic or Carthagenian Amphoras
-600-300 B.C.

S Greek Amphoras
-700 B.C.

Roman Amphoras
-130 B.C.

Byzantine Amphoras
-395 A.D.

Spanish Olive Jars
-1622 A.D.

FIGURE 1. Composite of amphora tradition (scales vary).

amphora manufacture have been related to functional requirements, but as yet, the

relationship between Spanish Olive jar manufacture, form, and function has not been as

systematically investigated.

The goal of the present study is to investigate the nature of olive jar production and

function by employing the multidisciplinary approach used for Greek and Roman

amphoras. A multidisciplinary approach is used as historical, archaeological, geological,

and material sciences analyses are employed to generate data regarding olive jar production

levels, labor organization, marketing strategies, production location, manufacturing

technique, and function. Shipping manifests and related documents were examined in

archives located in Sevilla, olive jar fragments from shipwreck and terrestrial assemblages

were investigated, and petrographic thin sections of olive jar sherds were analyzed. It is

hoped that this study might contribute to a greater understanding of the historical role of

commodity container production in an emerging capitalist world system.

Historical Setting

Florence and Robert Lister's (1987:276) monumental work on the pottery of

southern Spain from 200 B.C. to 1700 note that olive jars were required in great numbers

for the shipping of wine, olive oil, and various other goods to the Americas. Unlike other

sectors of the Spanish economy which did not respond successfully to the demands of the

American market, the manufacture of olive jars was not highly regulated, and olive jar

producers were able to dramatically increase their output and become one of the top

producing sectors of 16th-century Sevilla. Olive jar producers are described as "capitalist"

by the Lister's, largely due to the high volume of production, although no argument is

made for the development of capitalism in 16th to 18th-century Spain. Capitalism has

come to dominate the world political economic system and the transition toward capitalism

has been a central theme for many modem historical thinkers in their efforts to understand

the post-1500 world. The "rise of capitalism" literature is extensive (e.g. Smith 1884,

Marx 1974, Weber 1958, Hamilton 1929a, Wallerstein 1974, Wolf 1983, Braudel 1985,

1986a, 1986b) and while there exist variations concerning the definition and mechanism of

capitalist development, there is consensus that capitalism did not emerge in the Iberian

peninsula during the 16th-18th-centuries.

The transatlantic commercial activity of southern Spain from 1500 to 1850 is

associated with the transition from mercantilism toward capitalism in Western Europe (e.g.,

Hamilton 1929a, Wallerstein 1974, Wolf 1983, Braudel 1985, 1986a, 1986b). This

transition is a complicated process involving a number of social, political, economic, and

ideological factors, and the primacy of any one factor has been the subject of much

scholarly work. Some have focused on the social relations of production (Marx 1974;

Wolf 1983), and others have emphasized the importance of distribution or trade (e.g.

Wallerstein 1974). Ideology or "mind-set" is also considered to be a prime mover in the

development of capitalism (e.g. Weber 1958). This study will focus on production, but the

transatlantic commercial activity and the ideological context will also be discussed as the

aim is not so much to test one model against the other, but rather to gain an understanding

of the role of olive jar production in an emerging capitalist world system by whatever

means available.

Traditional economic histories of 16-18th-century Spain have emphasized the

Spanish disdain for manual labor, mania to acquire titles of nobility, unwillingness to take

investment risks, and the lack of prestige attached to commercial ventures. A well-known

Spanish economic historian has described the Spanish character as "anti-economic" (Vicens

Vives 1969:28-9), while others suggest that the Spanish resistance to economic innovation

is a result of "endless pride" (e.g. Ortega y Gasset 1937:153). Others point out that viable

economic reforms were introduced in the early 1600s, but were unsuccessful due to "a

whole social system and a psychological attitude which .. blocked the way to radical

reform" (Elliot 1963:65-66). One researcher has gone so far as to suggest that the

economic problems of present-day Latin America are the result of transplanting the 16th-

century Spanish mind-set into Latin America (Harrison 1985).

The reasons cited for the Spanish decline are many, and some have emphasized that

it was adherence to mercantilist policies which prevented Spain from competing

successfully with the less restricted political economies of other European countries. Until

relatively recently, historical investigations of the decline far outnumbered those focused on

the rise of the 16th-century Spanish empire. J.H. Plumb (1966:22) writes "How a

relatively backward, poor and isolated country of Europe achieved such a mastery and such

security is a problem as yet unsolved by historians." The traditional focus on the 17th-

century decline is part of a general trend, by Spanish and non-Spanish historians alike, to

emphasize the abnormality or backwardness of Spanish history when compared to the rest

of Europe. Part of this seeming overemphasis on the negative aspects of Spanish history

might be attributed to the Black Legend a propaganda campaign initiated by the English

and Dutch during the 16th and 17th-centuries which was intended to smear and undermine

Spanish authority. The Black Legend paints a picture of brutal religious fanatics, inept

rulers, and a citizenry inclined to sloth. A modem historian [Henry Kamen (1978)] has

pointed out the effects of the Black Legend on the writing of the history of Spain, and also

points out the fallacy of the whole notion of a "decline" of Spain.

Henry Kamen (1978), in an article which has been described as "controversial"

(Parker 1984:43), states that for there to be a "decline" of Spain, there must have been a

"rise" of Spain, and then goes on to demonstrate that there was, in fact, no "rise." First of

all, it is very misleading to talk of Spain as a unified entity. Even today, descriptions of

Spain speak of the "many Spains" intense regionalism has been a defining characteristic

of the Iberian peninsula throughout much of its modem history. The "Spain" which

administered the interaction with the Americas was modem day Castile and Andalusia,

although this entire area was called Castile during the 16th-18th-centuries (Figure 2).

Cddis -1
., Gi /mlter

[adapted from Elliot (1963:16) and Kamen (1991:280)]

FIGURE 2. Hapsburg Spain, 16th-17th century.

More important than this geographical note is the true nature of Castile's involvement in the

Americas during this time. Many Spanish historians consider Ferdinand and Isabel, the

Catholic monarchs, as the last true Spanish rulers. Through untimely deaths and the

questionable mental health of Juana (daughter of Isabel and Ferdinand), the Catholic

monarchs were unable to produce a direct heir. Juana was married to a Habsburg, and it

was their son, Charles, who would be king of Castile and Holy Roman Emperor. Charles

was raised in the Netherlands and spoke no Castilian when he assumed the Castilian crown

at age 15. He was accompanied by his entourage of Flemish advisors when he arrived in

Castile in 1517, and his allegiance to concerns beyond the boundaries of Castile was made

apparent when he was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1517 at age 19. The following

year, the Castilians demonstrated their opposition to this foreigner in the form of a revolt.

The communeros revolt was unsuccessful Flemish troops put it down and Castile

assumed an active role in the development of the Habsburg Empire. Castile fought the wars

against the Protestants in Europe, Castile conquered and administered the American

colonies, Castile took the risks of transatlantic commercial ventures, Castile brought back

the silver and gold, but it was the Habsburg Empire and even the rest of Europe which

benefited. Castile paid the price of Empire, but did not, for the most part, reap the

rewards. In fact, the massive capital outlay necessary for maintaining a military force

crippled the domestic economy of Castile. When viewed as part of a larger system, 16th-

century Castile was not an independent nation-state, but rather the military/commercial arm

of the Habsburg Empire. When Western Europe went into economic recession in the 17th-

century, Castile particularly Andalusia suffered the most because its domestic

economy was structured more for the support of transatlantic activity and less for self-

sufficiency (Kamen 1978).

Kamen's work suggests that the underdeveloped domestic economy of Castile was

more a case of the development of underdevelopment from outside forces much like

modem day underdevelopment in "third world" countries caused, in part, by U.S. political-

economic imperialism. So it is possible that the Habsburg Empire, and not "Spain", might

represent the proto-type for the hegemonic endeavors of Britain, France, the United States,

and the Soviet Union. Just as Kamen has suggested revisions as to how 16th-18th-century

"Spain" is perceived and understood, so too have numerous other studies suggested

revisions to all of the traditional reasons given for the "decline" of "Spain." These

contributions will be discussed further in Chapter 3. It is within this context of revision

that I propose to address the following question: How did the Habsburg Empire respond

to the demands of the American market? Did these responses represent a lack of the

capitalist mind-set? I propose to investigate the effects of the American market on colonial

period production strategy in Andalusia by focusing on the 350-year story of an artifact

which was manufactured explicitly for the Habsburg transatlantic commercial venture -

the Spanish olive jar.

The Spanish Olive Jar
"The Spanish Olive Jar, An Introductory Study" by John Goggin (1960) remains

the primary reference for what has been called the "five gallon oil can" of Spanish colonial

period transatlantic commerce (1500-1850). Goggin describes three styles of olive jar;

Early, Middle and Late (Figure 3). The Early style is spherical with handles, while the

spherical and elongate Middle and Late Styles have no handles. Historically, the Early

Style corresponds to the period of Spanish conquest (1500-1580), while the Middle Style

olive jars reflect a period of imperial consolidation of the Spanish American colonies (1580-

1780). The Late Style olive jars (1780-1850) are associated with the fragmentation of the

Spanish colonial empire and independence of the various colonies.

To summarize, a basic chronology for olive jars has been established and a number
of additional vessel forms have been identified, but as yet, little is known about the nature

of olive jar production and technology. The basic challenge of this work is to develop a

late 1490's-1580


1580-1780 .


1780-mid 1800's


(adapted from Goggin 1964:283)

FIGURE 3. John Goggin's typology for the Spanish Olive Jar.

strategy which will "squeeze" more information out of an artifact that is so common at

Spanish colonial sites. Information, in particular, which will inform the understanding of

evolving colonial economies and the rise of capitalism. At present, olive jar sherds have

been used as temporal markers with few exceptions, olive jar studies have focused on

identifying attributes which might be temporally sensitive (e.g. vessel form, rim form,

glazing, wall thickness). Given the ubiquity of olive jar sherds on archaeological sites, it

seems profitable to attempt to ask questions in addition to chronology. It seems fair to say

that the limits of traditional archaeological analysis have been approached with concern to

the Spanish olive jar. This is evident in the fact that Goggin's 1960 study has only seen

minor revisions in thirty years. In order to get more information out of this artifact, it is

necessary to seek and integrate the methods and techniques of disciplines outside of


A Multidisciplinary Approach

Florence and Robert Lister's (1987) "Andalusian Ceramics in Spain and New

Spain" is an excellent example of understanding and learning from material culture within a

multidisciplinary framework. The Listers discuss the historical development of Andalusian

ceramics in relation to the social, political, economic and ideological contexts. Their

treatment entails technological discussions and documentary work, when available. This

multidisciplinary approach is necessary when asking questions beyond chronology from

the material remains of past societies. The Listers point out the lack of precise knowledge

of olive jar production location in Spain, and suggest possible locales. Another example of

a successful multidisciplinary approach for understanding pottery production is the work

on Greek and Roman amphorae (e.g. Vandiver and Koehler 1986; Peacock 1987).

The Spanish olive jar is a representative of the amphora tradition in the modem age,

and in spite of a richer documentary record, less is known about the nature of olive jar

production than is known about the Greek and Roman amphora. Technological studies of

Greek amphorae demonstrate that investigations of physical properties can reveal

information regarding variation in vessel manufacture, form, and function (Vandiver and

Koehler 1986). This study also revealed variation in permeability through time, which

suggests variation in vessel contents. Peacock's (1987) mineralogical analysis of

petrographic thin sections of Roman amphora has led to the identification of amphora

production locales and, in turn, the reconstruction of trade routes. Numerous Roman

amphora production sites in Spain have been investigated by archaeologists, and others

have been hypothesized based on mineralogical analysis, but to date, no such sites have

been located for Spanish-manufactured olive jars. The goal of the present study is to

investigate the nature of olive jar production by using the interdisciplinary approach used

for Greek and Roman amphora.

Amphora studies have incorporated mineralogical analysis for determining

production locales, materials science analytical techniques to investigate amphora

manufacture and function, documentary information to determine what goods were

shipped, and traditional archaeological typology to establish chronologies. It is important

to note that techniques from any one of these disciplines are not sufficient to understand

amphora economics. At present, the chronology/typology of Spanish olive jars has been

established, and there have been several technological studies, but

provenience/mineralogical studies have not been undertaken, and documentary work has

not been systematically approached.

This study generated 3 data sets: 1. History study of historical documents to

investigate olive jar production levels and the organization of labor, in addition to showing

the extent to which ceramic packaging was favored over other forms, 2. Archaeology -

study of olive jar sherds from both shipwreck and terrestrial proveniences to note any

formal variation, and 3. Technology "fingerprinting" of olive jar sherds by

mineralogical analysis and comparison to geological survey data in Spain in order to

determine production locality, materials sciences discussion of olive jar manufacture. In


all, this study integrates the methods of four disciplines history, archaeology, geology,

and material sciences within an anthropological framework to describe the nature of

olive jar production in Andalusia and understand this organization in the context of an

emerging capitalist world system.




Multidisciplinary studies of archaeological assemblages have become commonplace

during the last twenty five years. Natural science applications for dating and provenience

studies are now a regular part of archaeological research programs, and archival and other

documentary information is incorporated into research by Historical archaeologists in the

Americas, and Classical, Medieval, and Post-Medieval archaeologists in the Old World.

Ethnographic reports and oral traditions are other data sources utilized by archaeologists.

The argument no longer has to be made for the usefulness of multidisciplinary studies -

much more can be learned when data are generated from more than one source. Even when

data from different sources are inconsistent or contradictory the results can be revealing.

These so-called "anomalies" or "incongruities" allow for epistemological assessments of

the various data sets and reveal their interpretive strengths and weaknesses. The

multidisciplinary "sharing" of research methods and associated techniques has not been

without its difficulties, but overall, there has been a spirit of cooperation, and the mass of

published multidisciplinary work is testament to the successful articulation and

collaboration of historians, archaeologists, and natural scientists.

The production of Spanish olive jars is investigated here by incorporating methods

from the fields of history, archaeology, geology, and materials sciences. Spanish

documents such as shipping manifests, ordinances, guild rosters, bills of sale, civil

complaints and price lists, combined with a mass of secondary sources, comprise the

source from which olive jar production data are generated. These data include olive jar

production levels, packaging/marketing strategy, production location, and labor

organization. Shipwrecks will be the primary archaeological source for generating data

regarding changes in olive jar morphology and distribution pattern. Mineralogical and

technological analyses of the archaeological materials from contexts spanning the 16th,

17th, and early 18th-centuries allow for identification of changes in olive jar production

location, manufacture, and function. The methods and data sources from each discipline

will be discussed as related to archaeology, after which the test implications of a proposed

model for Spanish olive jar production will be presented.

Historical Methods and Historical Archaeology

The principal source data for many historians are the written documents, and when

an archaeologist utilizes documents written contemporaneously with the material remains

under study to aid in their identification and interpretation, the result might be referred to as

classical archaeology, medieval archaeology, post-medieval archaeology, historical

archaeology, documentary archaeology, or text-aided archaeology depending on the place

and time period of the materials in question, and/or the perspective of the investigator.

Classical archaeology focuses on materials from the ancient world Assyrian,

Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and others. In Western Europe, the "rediscovery" of the works

of the ancient world during the Middle Ages, and the realization that much of value could

be learned from the ancient texts was accompanied by an increased interest in the associated

material remains. By the late 15th-century, Greek and Roman artifacts were widely

recognized as prized art objects and there are even examples of "cultural resources

management" at this time. "As early as 1462 Pope Pius II passed a law to preserve ancient

buildings in the papal states and in 1471 Sixtus IV forbade the export of stone blocks or

statues from his domains (Weiss 1969:99-100)" (Trigger 1989:36). As the texts of the

Assyrian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics were translated in the early nineteenth-

century, classical archaeology was in its formative period. The archaeology of societies for

which there existed no written documents also was developing during the Renaissance, but

this antiquarianism was more in line with the development of the natural sciences in its

empirical approach. Bruce Trigger (1989:40) suggests that some classical archaeologists

"helped to point the way towards a more purely archaeological study of prehistoric times"

(Trigger 1989:40). This was particularly true of Egyptologists and Assyriogists, who

unlike the Greek and Roman archaeologists had to excavate to retrieve the documents and

therefore were well aware of the information that artifacts and context could yield.

Medieval archaeology, post-medieval archaeology, and historical archaeology are

post-World War II developments in Europe and the United States respectively, and all are

in the process of establishing their own identities. The medieval period begins with the

collapse of the Roman Empire and ends with the formation of the modem world system in

the early 16th-century. Historical archaeology as defined in the U.S. concerns itself with

the post-1500 effects of European contact in the Americas and elsewhere. The archaeology

of this same period in Europe is called post-medieval archaeology. Medieval, post-

medieval and historical archaeology have strong developmental ties to history and much of

their soul searching of the last thirty years has focused on developing an identity distinct

from (but obviously related to) history.

Historical archaeology can and has produced its own research framework with its

associated research questions over the last twenty years (e.g. Fairbanks 1977; South 1977,

1988; Schmidt 1983; Deetz 1987; Cleland 1988; Deagan 1982, 1988; Honercamp 1988;

Leone 1988; Mrzowski 1988; Schuyler 1979, 1988). The views are varied as to precisely

what constitutes the "questions that count" in historical archaeology, but all agree that the

agenda can be set by historical archaeologists and produce meaningful results. Two of the

more recent examples of development in Historical Archaeology are Mary Beaudry's

(1990) "Documentary Archaeology" and Barbara Little's (1992) "Text-Aided

Archaeology." Beaudry's book is an explicit statement to the effect that archaeologists can

use documents to inform archaeology and produce meaningful results without adopting the

entire theoretical perspective within which the methods are employed by historians.

Barbara Little (1992) echoes this sentiment and suggests a broader conception of the idea of

documents that most all of archaeology done today is text-aided in that archaeologists rely

on site reports and other archaeological "texts" in the interpretation of the work in progress.

Neither Beaudry's or Little's positions are antagonistic toward history, but simply reflect a

growing awareness that Historical archaeology does not need to rely on history to establish

a research agenda.

While historical archaeology appears to have moved beyond the discussions

concerning it being only a "handmaiden of history", the break from history has not been as

complete in medieval archaeology. David Austin (1990:9) writes "... nearly all the

available literature on medieval archaeology is constituted to deal with problems and ideas

generated not within the discipline of archaeology itself but within that of history", and

Austin and Thomas (1990:43) suggest "we must drop the requirement for our medieval

archaeologists to be well versed in the methodologies and data of documentary history."

It appears that much of medieval archaeology might be considered more archaeological

history than historical archaeology, and some medieval archaeologists have referred to this

as the "tyranny of the historical record" (Champion 1990). The general consensus of

recent discussions regarding the identity of medieval archaeology (Austin and Alcock

1990; Tabaczynski 1993) is much the same as for American historical archaeology.

Medieval archaeology can make unique contributions towards a greater understanding of

the human endeavor, and while these contributions might incorporate the methods and

techniques of other disciplines, the theoretical framework and associated research questions

can be developed by medieval archaeologists.

It has been suggested that the investigation of the intricacies of the formation of

capitalism, with all its social, political, ideological, as well as economic ramifications, is a
"unifying force" in the discipline of Historical archaeology (e.g., Leone and Potter

1994:14-15). The research question which the present work addresses is in fact set in the

context of several major historical topics, including the rise of/transition towards

capitalism, the formation of the "Modem World System", the "decline" of Spain; as well as

anthropological concerns such as dependency relations, the development of

underdevelopment, and technological areas such as manufacture and function of pottery

transport containers. The present study is uniquely informed and organized by having both

a material and documentary focus. It is expected that an investigation of Spanish olive jar

production from these perspectives might inform the broader topic regarding the evolution

of the maritime container industry, a topic which currently has not attracted much attention

from either historians or archaeologists.

Archaeological Methods and Historical Archaeology

Olive jar sherds dominate most Spanish colonial ceramic assemblages, and this is

most apparent on Spanish shipwrecks where intact examples of olive jars are not

uncommon. Shipwreck proveniences are preferred both due to the presence of intact or

reconstructable olive jars and also due to their precision in dating. Precisely dated

assemblages from shipwrecks dating to the 16th-century are not common and so land site

assemblages were used. The shipwrecks were caused by severe storms or hurricanes, and

2 of the 3 land sites used in this study were also destroyed by natural disasters. A precise

end date is therefore known for almost all these sites. It is ironic that natural disasters, so

painful for those involved, serve as excellent contexts for archaeologists.

Discussions of archaeological investigations on Spanish shipwrecks in the

Americas can be found in a number of general works and monographs (McKee 1968:164-

190; Peterson 1972a:85-92; Peterson 1972b; Arnold 1978; Rogers 1987; Smith 1987,

1993; Throckmorton 1987), as well as in the Journal of Nautical Archaeology, and the

series Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology

Conference (1987-1995).

Technological Methods in Archaeology

Technological studies of artifacts provide information concerning the method of

manufacture, origin of raw materials, performance capabilities, and use of artifacts. Such

information allows investigation of the production, distribution, and consumption (use) of

goods, and therefore, technological studies are well suited to answer questions related to

economic pursuits. At present, technological studies related to Spanish colonial period

artifacts are relatively few and focus primarily on ceramics. What follows is a general

discussion of the role of technological studies in archaeology as well as a summary and

evaluation of existing technological studies of the Spanish-American contact period.

Finally, suggestions for further technological studies of Spanish colonial artifacts are


It is no surprise that technological analysis of artifacts has been an integral part of

archaeology ever since it became a formal field of study in the 19th-century (Bower 1986).

Archaeology focuses on the material remains of past human behavior and part of

understanding these remains includes investigating how they were made and used. The

technological studies of the 19th and early 20th-centuries were largely descriptive.

Advances in chemical characterization techniques in the 1930's and 1940's allowed

technological studies to be more experimental. In the 1950's, there developed a specialized

sub-field of chemistry archaeological chemistry. The last 20 years have witnessed a

dramatic increase in technological studies. These studies have been published by the

American Chemical Society (Beck 1974; Carter 1978; Lambert 1984; Allen 1989a), the

American Ceramic Society (Kingery 1985,1986,1990), and the Materials Research Society

(Sayre et al. 1988; Vandiver et al. 1992). In addition to Archaeometry, the following

journals were started to meet the expanded need to publish archaeological investigations

with natural sciences applications Journal ofArchaeological Science (1973 to present),

Science and Archaeology, Geoarchaeology (1985 to present), Archeomaterials (1986 to

present), in addition to a number of independently-produced edited volumes (e.g. Allibone

1970; Brothwell and Higgs 1970; Berger 1970; Brill 1971; Olin and Franklin 1982; Slater

and Tate 1988).

The major emphasis in these studies was the dating of archaeological materials

through the use of chronometric techniques (e.g. radiocarbon, thermoluminescence).

Characterization techniques (e.g. neutron activation analysis, x-ray diffraction, x-ray

fluorescence) were also widely employed in provenience and authenticity studies. Citing

Brill (1971), Beck (1974:iv) observed that archaeological chemistry was "... emerging

from the phase of a service science to the field archaeologist and the museum curator into a

discipline of its own." Later Carter (1978:ix-x) echoed this sentiment, but allowed that

archaeological chemistry has problems to overcome (such as standardized procedures for

data reporting and storage, specimen processing and testing) before it can "... earn the

distinction of being a mature field of chemistry." Lambert's (1984:xi) observation on the

status of archaeological chemistry is particularly telling when he states:

Archaeological chemists subject artifacts and other materials from
archaeological or historical sources to the scrutiny of modem instrumental
analysis. Workers in this field find these investigations always intensely
interesting, seldom financially renumerative, and sometimes
archaeologically useful. (emphasis added)

It should be pointed out that Lambert (1984) is referring primarily to non-chronometric

analyses; studies related to the dating of artifacts are generally helpful to archaeologists.

Lambert's (1984) comments reflect a general criticism of non-chronometric natural
sciences applications in archaeology which is that while they are good science, they are not

always meaningful in the context of significant archaeological research questions. The

solution to this criticism is increased collaboration between the natural scientist and

archaeologist. In the context of natural sciences applications in ceramic analysis, Tite

(1988:14) observes that with few exceptions, archaeologists tend to underuse their

scientific data or make naive interpretations, and likewise, the science-trained

archaeometrist tends to draw conclusions which are archaeologically naive. Again, the

solution is closer collaboration between technical specialist and archaeologist. In the 1989

edition of "Archaeological Chemistry," Allen (1989a, 1989b:3) calls for increased

collaborative efforts when he states: "Archaeological chemistry is a marriage between two

disciplines and requires ongoing cooperation and interaction."

Toward a Descriptive Model of Spanish Olive Jar Production -
Hypotheses and Their Test Implications

The goal of this study is to better understand Spanish olive jar production, and it is

hoped that some generalizations might be offered for the development of maritime container

production. The empirical studies, which involve the testing of hypotheses with data

generated from documentary, archaeological, and technological sources, are designed to

develop a descriptive model of Spanish olive jar production. After this descriptive model

of olive jar production is put in perspective with similar models of Canaanite, Phoenician,

Greek, Roman, and Byzantine amphora production, empirical generalizations regarding

maritime container production will be offered.

The first hypothesis regarding olive jar production was derived from the

observation that capitalist pottery production in the northeastern United States involved the

transition from a large number of widely scattered, small-scale producers to a smaller

number of more centrally-located, large-scale producers (Turnbaugh 1985).

HI Spanish olive jar production location shifted from a large number of widely scattered
locales at individual vineyards and olive groves in the 15th and early 16th-centuries, to a
smaller number of more centralized production locales with the increased demand for wine
and olive oil in the mid 16th-century to early 17th-centuries and later.

The test implications of this hypothesis are as follows:

1 The mineralogical signatures of the late 15th to early 16th-century olive jars will be
highly varied, while the mineralogical signatures of the mid 16th-century and later olive jars
will be more homogenous. Data Source Archaeological/Technological: petrographic
analysis of olive jar sherds

2 Vessel size and shape will become more standardized through time because there are
fewer (albeit larger) producers involved. Data Source Archaeological: olive jar vessel
and rim morphology

Florence and Robert Lister (1987) described the Spanish olive jar producers as capitalists

and the following hypothesis is an elaboration of this idea:

H2 The shipping activity which created the increased demand for wine and oil in Sevilla
starting in the mid 15th-century transformed the Spanish olive jar producers into
"capitalists" by the mid to late 16th and early 17th-centuries.

Test implications of the Lister hypothesis are as follows:

1 Olive jar producers were wage laborers who specialized in making maritime ceramic
packaging. Data Sources Documentary: tax rolls, guild rosters, bills of sale for olive

2 Packaging became more standardized and regulated with the greater need for quality
assurance of large consignments of wine and olive oil. Data Sources Documentary:
packaging ordinances, olive jar terminology in shipping manifests. Archaeological: -
volumetric studies of olive jar capacities. Technological: olive jar fabric

3 Innovations in manufacture such as the use of molds occurred in order to increase work
efficiency. Data Source Archaeological: mold marks or tooling marks on olive jars

4 Shortcuts (i.e., improper wedging, shorter firing time, less attention to aesthetics) or
other "illicit" activity becomes more common as part of an effort to keep up with demand.
Data Sources Documentary: complaints regarding faulty olive jars.
ArchaeologicalVTechnological: defects such as warping, blistering and bloating on olive

5 Competition between olive jar producers occurred, olive jar price and production levels
was determined by the market, and not by guild restrictions. Data Sources -
Documentary: price information from shipping manifests and price lists

6 Marketing strategies change to compete in the growing competitive world market as
measures are taken to promote individual products. Data Sources Documentary:
shipping manifests with descriptions of special packaging for wine and olive oil from
certain regions. Archaeological: distinguishing shapes, colors, or markings on the olive
jars to identity individual products.

The following chapter is an attempt to provide the historical background for

understanding olive jar production in 16th-18th century Andalusia. Chapter 4 will present

a review of amphora studies with the intent of developing a model of Spanish olive jar


production. Chapters 5 and 6 discuss the archaeological and technological data sets,

respectively. Chapters 7 and 8 present the results of investigations of historical sources,

both secondary and primary. And Chapter 9 consists of a discussion of the results of the

archaeological, technological, and documentary investigations, as well as conclusions.


An understanding of the development of Andalsuian olive jar production strategy

during the 16th-I 8th-centuries requires an understanding of the historical development of

that which has come to be known as "Spain." The history of Spain is characterized by a

continued interaction with the "other" by a succession of invading cultural groups

interacting with local societies on a landscape compartmentalized by mountains and valleys

resulting from the tectonic collision of the African and European plates. The tectonic

processes are somewhat symbolic of the historical processes as the invasion of Muslims

from North Africa and their seven centuries of political presence in the Iberian peninsula

shaped a former Roman colony into a social-political-economic mosaic unlike any other

former colony of the Roman Empire.

The regionalism of Spain which has resulted from the interplay of geo-physical and

cultural forces one to speak of the many "Spains," of which Andalusia is just one. The

historical development of the Iberian peninsula is unlike any other geographically defined

entity Spain was different Spain is different. The goal of this chapter is to provide

the reader with sense of this difference with a sense of Spain. What follows is not so

much a concisely integrated narrative of the history of Spain, but rather a collection of

selected historical/geophysical/cultural bits and pieces which illuminate the uniqueness of

Spain, and thereby hopefully facilitate an understanding of the Spanish experience.

The "Rise of Capitalism" and the "Decline of Spain"

"The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the
Cape of Good Hope, are the greatest and most important events recorded in
the history of mankind."... [Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations"]

... This statement may be doubtless is an exaggeration; but had he
spoken of the effect of these two events upon the origin of modem
capitalism, one of the most important developments of history, his
contention would have been incontrovertible. (Hamilton 1929a:338)

So opened Earl J. Hamilton's 1929 paper "American Treasure and the Rise of

Capitalism (1500-1700)." Capitalism and Columbus Hamilton saw a connection, but

was quick to point out that the gold and silver from the Indies was only one of a number of

factors involved in the development of capitalism. From a '90's perspective, this

paragraph has its irony. Hamilton's paper was published when American capitalism was at

the beginning of its darkest hour and Columbus was still considered somewhat of a hero.

In 1997, American capitalism is (arguably) experiencing a prouder moment, and Columbus

is now a villain. The dissolution of the Soviet Union has demonstrated that American

capitalism is at present the most successful strategy for maintaining the huge outlay of

military hardware necessary for sustaining a world power, and Columbus has received

considerable bashing and blame for the large-scale dying of native American peoples and

for allegedly bringing slavery to the Americas. A further irony is that some would argue

that capitalism did not have its initial florescence in the very country that sponsored the

voyages of Columbus and opened transatlantic trade. In fact, it was again Hamilton who

was to write one of the defining works on the negative effects of American treasure on the

17th-century Spanish economy in his 1938 paper "The Decline of Spain."

The "rise of capitalism" literature is extensive, and while some trace the conceptual
"roots" of capitalism back to Greek and Roman thought (e.g. Michelman 1983), most see

the process starting in Western Europe during the 14th-century, and emerging as a

competitive world-wide force with the industrial revolution of the 19th-century (Cox

1987:51; Abercrombie et al. 1986:86). Defining capitalism has also been the subject of

much debate, but the basic definition involves the private ownership of the factors of

production (land, labor, capital) operating in a relatively unrestricted market system

governed by supply and demand. Land and labor become commodities, and money is used

to transform these commodities into more money. This transformation process is called

"capital". "Capital is therefore not a material thing but a process that uses material things as

moments in its continuously dynamic existence" (Heilbroner 1985:36-37). The role of the

state is also important in capitalist development. It is the state that provides the

infrastructure (i.e., law enforcement protecting the rights of property, public works -

transportation networks) which both protect and encourage economic activity (Heilbroner


The mechanism of capitalist development is also subject for debate as some suggest

that exchange is the key (e.g. Wallerstein 1974), while others argue that ideology or "mind-

set" plays the critical role (e.g. Weber 1958), and still others focus on production and class

conflict (Braudel 1985, 1986a, 1986b; Wolf 1983). The beginning of capitalist

development varies according to the choice of mechanism. Those who focus on exchange

identify a merchant capitalism beginning in the 15th-century; the Protestant Reformation of

the 16th-century is viewed as being the foundation of capitalist development by Weber; and

those who focus on labor and labor relations point to the agrarian capitalism of 17th-

century northern Europe as the beginning of capitalism. An approach influenced by

Marxist thought which focuses on the modes of social relations of production views

capitalism not as a static thing which has an historical beginning and end point, but as a

dynamic entity still in the process of becoming. For example, in the modern world, the

subsistence mode and the peasant-lord mode of precapitalist times still exist side-by-side

with the enterprise labor market mode. The former are not dominant, but their persistence

shapes the development of new modes. This point of view, therefore, investigates the

transition toward capitalism.

While there is disagreement as to the mechanism of this transition toward

capitalism, there is general agreement that capitalism did not develop in 16th-17th-century

Spain, and the basic question of this chapter is, why not? The seeds of capitalism were

germinating in Western Europe (especially England) by the first half of the 17th-century,

and the agrarian capitalism which had developed in England would provide the material

basis for English hegemony in the 18th and 19th-centuries.

Some scholars, Spanish and non-Spanish alike, have suggested that part of the

reason for the decline of Spain was due to the lack of a "capitalist spirit" among the 15th

and 16th-century Spaniards:

Spain defiantly rejected the puritan capitalist ethic, and the wealth from the
American colonies was frittered away with little or no concern to generate
new resources and capabilities. (Graham 1985:44)

... they despised and deferred labor, but they bore hardships stoically; they
were lazy, but they conquered half the New World. (Durant 1957, vol.

This position seems to suggest that while the material base for capitalism was present, the

lack of an entrepreneurial mind-set resulted in a missed opportunity for capitalism to

develop. In addition to the ideological elements in the decline of Spain, there are a number

of political, economic and social factors which have been listed as players in Spain's


The economic decline of Spain in the 17th-century has been the focus of much

scholarly work (see Parker 1984 and Phillips 1987 for a review). Historical research

indicates that the 17th-century Spanish political economists were keenly aware of the

problems of their day and also offered viable solutions which were largely unheeded

(Hamilton 1938; Grice-Hutchinson 1978). Studies of the decline identify a long list of ills:

"Aridity, deforestation, insufficient harvests, emigration, expulsions; spread of mortmain

[perpetual church ownership of land], alms-giving and ecclesiastical vocations;

vagabondage, disdain for work, mania to acquire titles of nobility, mayorazgos, high

prices, upward movement of wages, taxes, wars; weakness of royal favorites and of the

sovereigns themselves ..." (Vicens Vives 1969:411). However, some recent revisionist

work turns attention away from any internal Spanish decadence.

Henry Kamen (1978, 1988, 1991) suggests that Spain, specifically Castile, was

really a military/commercial "colony" of the Habsburg Empire. Castile organized the

American treasure fleets and fought the Protestants in the Netherlands and the Turks in the

Mediterranean. Very little of the treasure stayed in Castile; it was funneled into the rest of

Europe, and the roughly 100 year period of fighting in the Netherlands would severely

deplete Castile's resources. Kamen refers to the Netherlands as Castile's "Vietnam."

J.H. Elliot (1961, 1984), like Kamen, acknowledges that Castile was ill-equipped

for world domination, but suggests that Castile attained temporary dominance only because

France, a country of greater natural resources, was involved in religious-based conflicts

from 1559-1629. France recovered more quickly than Spain from the general 17th-century

European recession and would be a power in the 18th-century. So it appears that it is not

some internal decadence which caused the decline, but rather external factors. "Without the

prolonged paralysis of France, the largest state in western Europe, the dismembership of

Charles V's empire would have surely occurred long before 1700. Such an 'extrinsic'

explanation of Spain's rise and decline may be less spectacular than the traditional one; but

for precisely that reason it is a more convincing one" (Parker 1984:44).

Histories and historians of the late 19th to mid 20th-centuries have been somewhat

less than kind in their dealing with seventeenth-century Spain. Terms such as "decadence,"
"backward," "abnormal" can be found in the writings of foreign and Spanish historians

alike when describing the historical trajectory of Spain. History is many things, but

perhaps at the most basic level it is the interpretation of the past in the context of the

present, and at the beginning of the 20th-century, the "present" of Spanish historians was

pretty gloomy. Spain had just lost a war with the United States (1898) and was forced to

give up its last colonial holdings in the Caribbean and Pacific (Cuba and the Philippines).

Political unrest during the early 20th-century heightened until the country was torn apart by

civil war from 1936 to 1939. Even though the prevailing autocratic regime had fascist

leanings, the country was too enfeebled to participate in the Second World War. A number

of Spanish scholars, now referred to as the "generation of '98", focused on the "Spanish

character" in their attempts to understand what they perceived as a historical failure of


But today, just as Spain's internal and international status is markedly improving,

some of the old saws about Spain are also being revised. The second half of the twentieth-

century witnessed the peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1975. Spain

joined NATO in 1981 and became a provisional member of the European Economic

Community in 1986. In 1992 the quincentenary of the first voyage of Christopher

Columbus Spain played host to the world's fair and Olympic Games. One of the

themes of the world's fair was "iimaginate!" Imagine! which reflected a look to the

future, but at the same time there was a sense of the past. One advertisement for the Fair

depicted the three ships of Columbus along side an astronaut and spaceship. It is within

this context of renewal and rejuvenation that a modern Spanish historian has called for a

revision of the traditional histories of Spain as he allows that yes, Spain was different, but

this does not necessarily mean backward; Spain must be understood first in its own terms,

and then placed in context with Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Americas

(Marfas 1990).

The purpose of this chapter, then, is to explore this Spanish "difference". A

section on the geology and geography of the Iberian Peninsula will be followed by a

summary of the history of the Peninsula. Discussion will relate the physical setting and

history of the Peninsula to the themes of capitalist development, the "decline" of Spain, and

the Spanish "character". The result will form the background for more specific discussions

of amphora/olive jar economics in Chapter 3.

Geology and Geography The Uniqueness of Spain

Fundamental to any understanding of Iberian history is an appreciation of
the role played by geology and climate. (Lovett 1986:3)

Spain is haphazardly cut into regions as if the creative forces of nature had
gone berserk, blindly slashing the surface of the land. (Arango 1985:1)

A Peninsula separated from the continent of Europe by the mountain barrier
of the Pyrenees isolated and remote. A country divided within itself,
broken by a high central table-land that stretches from the Pyrenees to the
southern coast. No natural centre, no easy routes. Fragmented, disparate,
a complex of different races, languages, and civilizations this was, and is,
Spain. (Elliot 1963:13)

Much is made of the physical setting of the Iberian Peninsula it is an interface

between Europe and Africa, between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic it is

mountainous, arid, disconnected, compartmentalized there is marked cultural as well as

geographic regionalism. The topography of the Iberian peninsula is characterized by

rugged mountains and unconnected drainage systems which result in geographic

compartmentalization (Figure 4). The soils are generally good, but the dry climate makes

agriculture difficult in upland areas. In general, the volume of the rivers is small and

irregular, at times leading to massive flooding. The abruptness of many of the river banks

and irregular, often steep courses inhibit widescale irrigation and transportation (Vicens

Vives 1969:12-17; Tamanes 1986:1-3). Elliot's remark (cited above), along with the

statements "Europe begins at the Pyrenees" (Alexandre Dumas 1928; cited in Jordon

1988:14), and, Spain is "Outside the southern door of Europe (James A. Michener 1968;

cited in Jordon 1988:14) seems rather curious. At a glance, these statements appear to

be in some way geographically incorrect. The Iberian peninsula is certainly part of the

same continent as Europe, in a geological sense at least.

Cdd f Mdlaga (adapted from Arango 1985)

FIGURE 4. Map of the Iberian Peninsula showing major mountain ranges and drainages.

(adapted from Udfas 1985)

FIGURE 5. Tectonic map of the Mediterranean region.

The Iberian peninsula is part of the Euroasian plate and Africa is part of the African

plate (Figure 5). Europe and Africa have been on a geological collision course ever since

Pangaea began to split up roughly 173 million years ago and Spain appears to be a

terrestrial "pivot" point of this tectonic collision (Skinner and Porter 1989:375). The

convergence of the Eurasian and African plates has resulted in folding and buckling of the

Iberian landscape. The result is a series of plateaus formed by uplift, and a number of

roughly east-west oriented mountain ranges and basins which determine the location of the

major drainages of the peninsula (Figure 4, Anderson 1978:115-118,198-200). In time,

Europe and Africa will become one, the Mediterranean Sea will be closed, and geographers

will have to rethink this new united continent. But geologists estimate that we have some

30-40 million years before this occurs (Smith and Livermore 1985:84-96).

It seems that geography is not necessarily determined by geology. Some

geographers suggest "There is no rule that forbids a continent from abutting its neighbours

and by what other name could we describe so distinctive a unit as Europe?" (Mellor and

Smith 1979:1). Another geographer points out that Europe is not a continent afterall, and

the fact that it is called a continent is the result of the incorrect observation of the Greeks -

who thought the world was composed of three separate land masses Europe, Africa,

and Asia. Jordon (1988) writes that the Romans "were fighters, not mapmakers," and the

idea of three continents was passed on to the modem age:

Although Europe is not a continent and lacks physical geographical
individuality, the idea that Europe is a separate entity persists ... The
explanation for this lies deeper than the mere perpetuation of a classical
Greek misconception. In short, Europe is a human entity rather than a
physical one, and its distinctiveness is to be sought in the character of the
peoples who occupy it rather than in its physical environment. Europe is a
culture that occupies a culture area. (Jordon 1988:6)

The boundaries of culture areas change over time, and therefore, it is no surprise that the

boundaries of the culture area of Europe have also changed over time. "Europe" in 1000

BC was the eastern Mediterranean, at the birth of Christ it was the Roman Empire, and in

1000 AD only the northernmost region of the Iberian Peninsula was considered Europe.

From 1300-1600, Europe meant Christendom (Jordon 1988:8). But just as the Iberian

peninsula was to completely rejoin Europe in 1492 with the conquest of Granada, the

definition of Europe was to change religion, which had been a central defining

characteristic since Roman times, now was secondary to more secular concerns -

progress, freedom, and creativity (Jordon 1988:1-19).

Thus the cultural and geographic concept of Europe is fluid -the core has moved

- and in the 1990's, Spain is not considered to be at the core of Europe (Jordon 1988:14).

In fact, all of southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece) is considered periphery,

although Williams (1984:1) writes: "Before the 1950's it was appropriate to ask, 'why is

southern Europe underdeveloped?' But this has now been supplanted by the question,
'why has southern Europe developed so rapidly?'" Lewis (1987:112) entitles a chapter

"Iberia: Spain and Portugal Return to Europe". Part of this return has to with the

"defeating" of geography, that is, the building of an improved transportation network

connecting all parts of the peninsula. "Europe's most mountainous country after

Switzerland, Spain has always been dreadfully connected with its own capital and, cut off

by the Pyrenees, with the rest of the continent. This is changing" (The Economist 1992:7).

Invasion and Regionalism
According to Fuentes (1992), with the possible exception of Russia, the Iberian

peninsula has been the most invaded area of Europe (see Appendix 1). With its history

characterized by invasion and colonialism, and the associated multiculturalism, an

understanding of the economic system which prevailed in 16th-18th-century Spain requires

consideration of the contributions of the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans of the ancient

world, and the Visigoths and Muslims of the medieval period who all shaped, defined, and

became part of that cultural entity which has come to be known as "Spanish."

The regionalism of modem Spain is a reflection both of the variety of historical

"invaders" and also the topography of the peninsula. The eastern and southern coastal

areas were most accessible, and therefore these areas were influenced most by the invaders

from outside (Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans). The northwest and interior were more

isolated so they retained a more independent bearing. The origin of the native Iberians is

unknown. The Celts entered the peninsula sometime around 2000 BC and were followed

by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Alani, Suevi, Byzantines,

Visigoths, Moors, Franks. The Celts settled in the northwest, the Iberians were on the

eastern and southern coastal areas, and the interior was an interaction zone referred to as

"Celtiberian." The Phoenicians and Greeks had mainly commercial relations with the

native Celts and Iberians, (8th-6th-century B.C.), while the Carthaginians (5th-3rd century

B.C.) placed greater emphasis on colonization. They were replaced by the Romans (3rd

century B.C. to 5th-century A.D.), who followed the more extractive pattern of the

Phoenicians and Greeks. The Vandals, Alani, and Suevi were the first of the eastern

Germanic peoples who brought about the downfall of the Roman Empire to enter the

Iberian peninsula (5th-century A.D.), and were followed by the Byzantines and Visigoths.

In the early 8th-century A.D., Islamic peoples from North Africa conquered much of the

Iberian Peninsula and maintained a political presence until the late 15th-century (see Aubet

1993, Curchin 1991, Fletcher 1991, Harrison 1988, Keay 1988, Bendiner 1983,

Boardman 1980, Glick 1979, Thompson 1969, Altamira y Crevea 1964, Arribas 1964).

This diversity of population and region are reflected in the linguistic patterns of the

modern Iberian peninsula where five languages are spoken Portuguese, Castilian,

Galician, Basque, and Catalan. Castilian is the language of central and southern Spain,

while Galacian and Basque are spoken in the northeast and northwest regions, respectively.

Catalan is spoken in the eastern Iberian peninsula (Figure 6). Vicens Vives (1969)

discusses the regionalism of modem Spain by identifying four "nuclei" 1. Northern, 2.

Catalan, 3. Castilian, and 4. Andalusian.


FIGURE 6. Language Map of the Iberian Peninsula.

Northern. This region is comprised of modem day Galicia, Asturias, Navarre,

the Basque country, and Arag6n. The initial defeat of the Moors was in Asturias, located

in the northwest part of the Iberian peninsula, and it was here that the 800 year

reconquestt" of the peninsula began. But even in the early Middle Ages, the people of

these northern kingdoms regarded each other as foreigners. The reconquest was not a

group effort there was little cooperation among the Basques, Castile, and Arag6n (Salmon


Catalan. Catalonia and Valencia constitute this region where the Catalan language

has been spoken since the 8th-century. During the Middle Ages, Catalonia had more

relations with the Mediterranean than with the rest of the Peninsula. It was only after 1400,

when Catalonia was in decline, that relations with the peninsula dominated (Fontana 1991).

Unlike the mountainous Northern regions, Valencia possessed both a strong agrarian base

- especially along the coast and a manufacturing industry during the Middle Ages (Cuco

1991:252). After the Christian kingdoms occupied Valencia in 1238 AD, a substantial

number of Mudejares Muslims living in Christian-controlled territories remained,

later to become Moriscos Muslims who had converted to Christianity, in the 16th-


Castile. "The history and language of Castile are without any doubt the key factor

in the whole of Spanish history and culture; so much so that 'Castilian' has often been used

to mean the same as 'Spanish' (Garcia Sanz 1991). The name originated from

Moorish references to the "land of castles" which the king of Asturias built along the

southern frontier of that kingdom. Castile would grow as the Moors were pushed to the

south, and therefore its geographic designation would change over time to cover almost the

entire area of modern Spain and include "Castile and Le6n, Cantabria, La Rioja, Castilla,

La Mancha, Madrid and Estremadura" (Garcia Sanz 1991:247).

Andalusia. "The southernmost region of the Iberian peninsula has always had a

strongly individual character, which has enriched the whole of Spain. At the same time, it

has also been a link with the outside world, sometimes receiving influences from abroad,

sometimes becoming a source of influences radiating out on a global scale" (Dominguez

Ortiz 1991:254). Andalusia consists of three regions the Guadalquivir river valley, the

low-lying Sierra Morena mountains to the north, and the higher mountainous area of

Granada. Andalusia presents an antithesis to the warrior image of Castile "In

Andalusia, contrary to the custom in Castile, it is the warrior who has always been

despised, and the countryman, the rustic, the master of the farmhouse who has been

esteemed above all others.... As a consequence of this disdain for war, Andalusia has

played little part in the bloody history of the world.... Andalusia has fallen into the hands

of all the violent peoples of the Mediterranean, and always in twenty-four hours, so to

speak, without even offering resistance" (Ortega y Gasset 1937:94-95).

The Iberian Peninsula and the Ancient World: Political Economy

Spain has been called the "Mexico" of the ancient world (Elton 1882:9-10),

referring to the fact that its rich mineral resources (gold, silver, iron, copper, tin, lead,

mercury) and fertile river valleys in the south (producing grain, olive oil, and wine) were

all exploited to varying degrees by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans.

Curchin (1991:8) suggests that the terrain was a major obstacle to invaders, and further"..

the warlike background and tribal ethos of the indigenous peoples." In fact, the

Celtiberians and Iberians served as mercenaries for the Carthaginians, (possibly) Greeks,

and Romans (Curchin 1991:100).

Much of what is known about the Celts, Celtiberians, and Iberians in Spain is from
Greek and Roman writings. Largely pastoral peoples, the Iberians have been divided into

4 geographic divisions Catalonia, the Ebro Valley, the Spanish Levant (east coast area),

and Upper and Lower Andalusia. Arribas (1964:152) writes that aside from the alphabet,

there was no unifying factor among the four areas.

The Phoenicians are important in that they were the first to include the Iberian

Peninsula in the Eastern Mediterranean interaction sphere. The word "Phoenician" is what

the ancient Greeks called the people from Canaan, a land located in the area of modem day

Lebanon. The Phoenicians had established maritime relations in the eastern Mediterranean

during the second millennium BC, and due to a series of aggressive acts on the part of its

neighbors, the country of Canaan had lost much of its hinterland and been "reduced to a

narrow coastal territory" by 1100 BC (Aubet 1993:15). This lost hinterland had provided

much of the agricultural support for the more densely populated coastal areas, and so the

Phoenicians had to turn westward to find a way to feed their people. The Phoenicians had

for a long time been supplying interior peoples (especially the Assyrians) with metals -

copper, tin, iron, lead, silver, and gold, and the mineral wealth of southern Spain was

known to the Phoenicians. It was probably a search for new sources of metals which

prompted the Phoenician endeavor in the Iberian Peninsula. Silver had come to be the

metal standard of commercial activity in the eastern Mediterranean during the first

millennium BC, and by 720-650 BC the Phoenicians were extracting great quantities of

silver from southern Andalusia (Aubet 1993:15-64).

The Phoenicians are said to have introduced the grape and the olive into the Iberian

peninsula. Much Phoenician olive oil entered the southern peninsula which supports the

idea that the Tartesians (the Iberian group in southwestern part of the peninsula) received

oil and gewgaws (trinkets) in exchange for metals, as reported in Greek sources (Aubet

1993:243). "The heavy importation of wine and oil in the early period of colonization

gradually disappeared (except for high grade brands) as planting of vineyards and olive

groves developed around the outskirts of the colonies" (Vicens Vives 1969:52).

The Phoenicians left Spain at the beginning of the 6th-century BC. There does not

appear to have been any military conflict associated with this withdrawal and it is likely that

its cause might have been due to Babylonian invasions of Canaan in the 570's BC (Curchin


The Greeks made visits to the Iberian Peninsula early in the 6th-century BC, and

possibly earlier in the 7th-century BC (Arribas 1964:52). The Greek's main influence was

on the east coast, while Phoenicians were mostly in the south (Curchin 1991:20), and some

degree of interaction between the two is suggested by the recovery of Greek finewares and

amphoras in southern Spain (Harrison 1988:69,71). Greek organization came to

characterize both areas, and "Iberian towns in southern and eastern Spain were already on

the way to urbanism under Greek influence before the Romans arrived" (Curchin


The Carthaginians entered the peninsula in the 5th-century BC and "... inherited

the Phoenician trade network in southern Spain" (Curchin 1991:24). Like the Phoenicians

earlier, the Greeks and Carthaginians also encouraged the Iberians to grow grapes and

olives for wine and oil, which were exported, along with salt, dried fish, fish sauce, and

the metals copper, tin, iron, silver, gold, and lead (Vicens Vives 1969:45-52).

Carthaginian expansion resulted in the First Punic War (264-241 BC) between Carthage

and Rome. Twenty five years after the peace of the First Punic war, Rome allowed

Carthage to occupy large areas in Spain. It was a strategic move as the occupation was

permitted with the understanding that the Carthaginians would not unite with the Celts

(Herm 1976:20). The second Punic War began in 218 BC when Hannibal crossed the alps

with his elephants. By 206 BC. the Carthaginians had been expelled from the Iberian

peninsula by Rome, and the Roman occupation was limited to the eastern and southern

coastal areas. When it became clear that the Romans were not going to leave, the Iberians

started guerrilla activities (Herm 1976:165-166). The Roman conquest of the Iberian

peninsula took 200 years, in comparison to the conquest of Gaul, which took only 10

years. The Carthaginians were expelled from the Iberian peninsula in 206 BC, but from

218 BC to 16 BC the peninsula was a war zone.

The Romans were not present in great numbers in the Iberian peninsula, but they

organized the Iberians for export production. The central area of the peninsula, referred to

as the Meseta, was an important grain producer for the Romans. But even before the

interior was Romanized, much grain was being produced for export. In 203 BC "...

when the Romans [occupied] only a coastal strip of the Peninsula, imported Hispanic

cereals caused prices on the Roman market to be reduced" (Arribas 1964:119). Vicens

Vives (1969:63-81) writes that wine and olive oil were also major exports. Wines from the

Iberian peninsula flooded the Italian market and by AD 65 further planting of vineyards

was prohibited in Spain although enforcement was uneven, and in time, new varieties of

grape were introduced. In general, Iberian wines were much-enjoyed in Rome (Smith

1965:9-10). The export of olive oil was not restricted and Spain and North Africa became

the main olive oil producers of the Roman Empire. The Romans continued mining the

same metals as the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians. Other exports included

weapons of Bilbilis, cord and rope from the Levant, fish sauce from the coast; lesser

exports were linens from Saetabis and woolens from Baetica (southern peninsula).

The Romans built some 13,000 miles of roads, and initiated a ... policy of

almost total commercial freedom in contrast to the state of affairs which had prevailed in

Egypt and the Hellenistic world" (Vicens Vives 1969:71). "... the transition from

Republic to Principate involved the change from a feudal capitalism, developed by the great

Republican landowners, to an urban capitalism, Hellenic in origin, based on trade,

industry, and systematic agriculture (high point of grape and olive cultivation in Spain),

which got its start as a result of the decay of the aristocracy's great fortunes" (Vicens Vives

1969:60). Roman Spain was, nevertheless, basically agrarian and ". in regions of

advanced economic development, the rural population outnumbered the urban by a ratio of

at least ten to one" (Curchin 1991:126). The relationship between towns and rural areas is

described as symbiotic rather than exploitative. Much emphasis has been placed on the

large rural agricultural production units known as Roman villas. "However, it would be a

mistake to assume a complete transformation from subsistence economy to villa economy

in Roman Spain. Even in the rich agricultural zone of the lower Guadalquivir valley with

its proliferation of magnificent villas manufacturing their own shipping amphoras and

crushing their own olives, the intensive field surveys of Michel Ponsich have revealed a

large number of small farms ... rural settlement involved a hierarchy of sites rather than a

homogeneous 'villa culture' (Curchin 1991:126-127).

By A.D. 382 Rome had made peace with a number of Eastern Germanic groups

including the Greutungi, Ostrogoths, Terninigi, and Vesi (Heather 1991:310). Attacks on

these groups by the Huns in the late 3rd century caused the formation of two alliances in

A.D. 291 the Greutungi-Ostrogothic of the eastern Roman Empire and the Tervinigi-

Vesi group of the western Roman Empire. Later, a chronicler would refer to these alliances

as the Ostrogoths and "Visigoths" (Wolfram 1988:24). These two groups were given

political and military autonomy in AD 382, which reflected the growing inability of the

Roman empire to assimilate conquered peoples (Heather 1991:310).

The Iberian Peninsula and the Fall of the Roman Empire:
Political Economy

Roman Spain in the 3rd and 4th-centuries was in a state of anarchy. Demographic

decline, "peasant" revolts, and attacks and invasions by a number of Eastern Germanic

peoples (Vandals, Alani, Suevi) resulted in the Visigoths being called in to pacify warring

factions in 414 AD. "The Vandals overran the entire country but settled mostly in

southern Spain, hence the name Andalusia (Vandalusia, or land of the Vandals)" (Crow

1963:35; c.f. Glick 1979:). The Vandals were pushed out of Spain by the Visigoths, and

the Suevi and Alani formed a weak alliance and moved to the northwest. Eventually, the

Visigoths were to exert their own independence, sack Rome, and move into the Iberian

peninsula to stay. This may have been a reaction to the threat of invasion of the peninsula

from the Franks (Wolfram 1988:191), who in fact had invaded in the northeast 507-31 AD

(Collins 1983:32-36). The Visigoths took Sevilla from the Spanish Romans in 549 AD,

but the greater part of Baetica was Byzantine or Spanish Roman. The Byzantine presence

in Spain was more important for securing their holdings in North Africa than conquering

Spain (Collins 1983:38), and they were expelled by the Visigoths in AD 642. The

Visigoths made migrations into the Iberian peninsula and displaced Hispano-Roman power

during the late 5th-century AD. But while there was a replacement of political hegemony,

there was not a removal of people "Italy, Gaul and the Iberian peninsula were under

populated; these areas could therefore maintain a much higher population and it was

generally unnecessary for the Germanic settlers to confiscate the lands of the Romano-

provincial inhabitants" (Hodget 1972:5).

The Visigothic presence in Spain is described as a "displacement" in that it was

more intrusion than invasion because the Visigoths preserved much of the Hispano-Roman

traditions and after 587A.D., had assimilated into Romanized Spain, giving up both their

language and religion (Wolfram 1988:170-191; Salmon 1971:14; Vicens Vives 1969:83).

The Visigoth period in Spain is thus viewed more as an appendage to the Roman

Period than as a beginning of the Feudal Period. The Visigoths, numbering roughly

200,000, were initially located in only one region in the interior, that of Segovia, which

was part of old Castile. They were only a small percentage of the 6 million Hispano-

Roman occupants, and there were roughly 100,000 Suevi in northwest Spain. Except for

the introduction of artichokes and spinach, agricultural products of the Visigoth period

remained the same as in Roman Spain (Vicens Vives 1969:83-92).

The Visigothic economic pattern of stockbreeding, probably mining, and some

trade (metals, salt, wine, vinegar, olive oil, and honey), followed that of the Roman period

(Vicens Vives 1969:83-92). There seems to have been a great deal of movement between

southern and eastern Spain (e.g. Cartagena, Sevilla, Barcelona), and Constantinople.

There was much Byzantine influence in southern Spain during the period 552-624

(Thompson 1969:21-22, 152).

When the Visigothic prince of Baetica converted to Christianity, Sevilla revolted

against the Visigothic King and declared the converted Christian Prince their king in AD

579. The king attacked Sevilla and restored his power, but Christianity became the religion

of the Visigothic state in AD 589. Conversion was not total among the Visigoths the

conversion is seen as an attempt to bring conciliation between Visigoths and Spanish

Romans (Altamira y Crevea 1964:159-193). But this was widening the gap between Jews

and Visigoths. In 694 there was an accusation that the Jews were helping the Muslims to

invade Spain. A decree followed which stated that ". all the Jews in the Peninsula

should be reduced to slavery and their goods confiscated..." (Altamira y Crevea

1964:181). Muslims had obtained territory in North Africa in the 7th-century and launched

two unsuccessful invasions of the Iberian Peninsula in late 7th-century and early 8th-


The Iberian Peninsula and the Middle Ages: Political Economy

In AD 711, yet another invasion force of Arab and Berber Muslims from North

Africa, collectively referred to as Moors, landed on the southern shores of Andalusia.

Internal dissent in many cities resulted in little or no resistance, and sometimes

accommodation to the Moorish invaders. Bertrand and Petrie (1971:31) suggest that the

initial intent of these invaders was not so much to occupy the land, but rather to take booty

and slaves and return to North Africa a raid rather than a conquest. Raiding did become

an occupation, but the original inhabitants were allowed to continue practicing their

religion. Bendiner (1983:25) suggests that the Moors "... were so sure of their power

that they could enjoy the antics of Christians and Jews". After defeating the Visigoth King

Rodrigo, the Moorish leader Tariq occupied Toledo and moved north. After the defeat of

the Rodrigo, many cities capitulated, until the critical battle in Asturias. As military

encounters go, it was only a small affair, but it ensured that the northwest comer of the

peninsula would not fall to the Moors. Some point to the Asturuias battle as the beginning

of the reconquest a reconquest that took almost 800 years.

The Moorish conquest of the peninsula took only four years. Fletcher (1992:21-
24) attributes this ease of conquest, in part, to the what was basically the centralized

Roman organization of the Iberian Peninsula altered little by the Visigoths strike a blow

to the center and the rest will fall. It was the Umayyad dynasty, together with Berber

troops, which had initiated the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, but their presence in

Spain was brief. "After a period of civil war in Syria and Iraq, the Umayyad dynasty was

overthrown and the Caliphate replaced by a new dynasty the Abbasids. The centre of

power was shifted from Syria to Iraq. The symbol of this change was the foundation of

the imperial capital of Bagdad in 762." (Ahmed 1991:7).

The Moorish presence in Spain produced great cultural florescence, especially at the

city of C6rdova, which had a population of one million in AD 900. The prosperity of al-

Andalus under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties had allowed them to pay the Christian

kingdoms of the north not to attack, but there were other economic relations as well. The

chief market for al-Andalus exports of textiles, olive oil, and arms was north Africa, but

this demand came to be exceeded by Christian Spain. "It could well be said that for five

centuries northern Spain was a colony for the export of Moslem products" (Vicens Vives

1969:111-120). Wine was still important in al-Andalus and consumed by Muslims despite

prohibition from the Koran (Vicens Vives 1969:108). In the Christian kingdoms, there

was much demand for wine ". .. the Benedictine rule specified that monks should drink

approximately one litre of wine per day" (Glick 1979:94). During the 9th and 10th-

centuries Mozdrabes Christians living in Islamic-controlled lands, were forced to

emigrate north. "When the Mozarabes became established in the towns and cities of the

Christian Kingdoms, they introduced certain arts, trades, and an economic concept which

the Christians did not possess, or rather, one which they had neglected for a long time"

(Vicens Vives 1969:127).

The 8th-century invasion of the Moors added Arab and Berber elements to the

existing Jewish and Romano-Gothic-Celtic-Iberian ethnic influences. Jews were an

accepted part of Roman period Spain, but the Visigoths were less tolerant. A Jewish revolt

was planned in 694, but it was crushed before it began (Bendiner 1983:33). The early

centuries of Moorish occupation were times of religious tolerance toward Christians and

Jews. Christians viewed Jews and Muslims as deniers of the one true Christ, but Islam

views both Christianity and Judaism as "people of the Book" "whose incomplete

systems of belief nonetheless allowed them to know and venerate God, to understand and

obey His commandments, and to merit eternal salvation" (Cruz Hemrndez 1991:20).

"Judaism has never interrelated more closely or more fruitfully with another culture than it

did with the Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus" (Zafrani 1991:35).

The periods of AD 711-1086 in Andalusia and 1085-1370 in Christian era have

been described as golden ages" of social and cultural interaction and coexistence (Cruz

Hemrdndez 1991:20; see also Dodds 1992). The Moors in Spain are credited with

transferring Greek thought to Europe (Vernet 1991). Arabic words entered the Iberian

language in the Middle Ages in the areas of ". .. irrigation, fortification, civics, urban life,

commerce, botany, and food" (Arid 1991). "Craftsmen, shopkeepers, merchants and small

landowners of the Mozarabic and Jewish communities were able to maintain their

traditional way of life without much difficulty. Obviously, though, this process of

convergence broke down whenever religious disputes arose" (Cruz HemrnAndez 1991:22).

The aristocracy and merchants seemed to have no problem with co-existence but the "...

masses, on the other hand, found it hard to live alongside Mozarabs and Jews" (Cruz

Hernondez 1991:21). As the Reconquest progressed in the 11llth-13th-centuries, so did the

growth of religious intolerance. Increasing numbers of MozArabes (Christians living in

Moslem territories) and Jews migrated to the Christian kingdoms where they were well-

received. Moslems living in reconquered areas, referred to as Mudejares, were also

tolerated by the Christians. In general, the Jews were urban business people, while many

of the Mudejares were agricultural laborers. Another significant social group during the

11-13th-centuries were the foreigners from western Europe who were attracted by the
"crusading" character of the wars and economic opportunities (Chapman 1918:87). By the

13th-century there was a mosaic of ethnic and religious groups on the peninsula.

Some writers, while not denying the "incredible Moorish Legacy" in Spain, have

presented the coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the 12 and 13th-centuries as

more related to demographic/economic/political factors, and not so much the result of

social/ideological accord (Fletcher 1992:2,135), adding that the coexistence, while indeed

long-lasting, was not always harmonious. Fletcher (1991:144) goes on to explain that it

was a low population density and lack of colonists, rather than some enlightened social

ideological concern that resulted in the policy of allowing the conquered peoples to remain

in areas of Muslim or Christian control. The distribution of Mudejares varied as many

Muslims in reconquered territories exercised their option to leave (especially in Castile and

Portugal), while in other areas they generally chose to remain (i.e., Arag6n, Valencia, and


Internal unrest and attacks from the Christian kingdoms and the Berbers had begun

to gradually whittle away at the Muslim holdings by the 1 lth-century. The Almoravids, a

fundamentalist Islamic sect from North Africa who came initially as allies of the taifa rulers,

turned against them and took over all of Al-Andalus in the late 1 lth-century. The

Almoravids disapproved of allowing Christians and Jews to continue practicing their

religion. The payments paid to the northern Christian kingdoms by the Abbasid dynasty

stopped. The resulting internal strife and attacks from the Christian kingdoms weakened

the Almoravids, and the Almohads another fundamentalist sect from North Africa -

invaded and conquered al-Andalus in 1171-73. "By this time the three major Christian

powers Leon-Castile, Arag6n-Catalonia and the new kingdom of Portugal were

formidably strong." (Fletcher 1992:105). The first half of the 13th-century saw most of

al-Andalus fall to these three Christian kingdoms. C6rdoba was taken in 1236, Valencia in

1238, and Sevilla in 1248.

The Christian kingdom of Castile came to be a dominant force by the end of the
13th-century with the addition of C6rdoba, Valencia, and Sevilla. "Castile did not exist in

the year 800, by the year 1000 it was a modest county of the kingdom of Le6n, by 1300 it

was the largest state in Europe. "Al-Andalus" included nearly the whole of the peninsula in

the eighth-century, but by the late thirteenth it meant the tiny principality of Granada"

(Fletcher 1992:9-10).

Political economy in Muslim areas of the Iberian peninsula prior to 1212 was

characterized by laissezfaire economic policies, with general participation by the political

leadership, and few restrictions regarding exports or imports the Christian kingdom to the

north and countries in the Mediterranean. After the mid-13th-century, when much of the

peninsula was in under Christian rule, olive oil, spices, mercury, leather, furs, and

ceramics continued to be major exports. There was a decline in the export of silk products

and timber, and while the slave trade continued to the end of the 13th-century, it was

Muslim instead of Christian slaves who were the commodities. The export of wool greatly

increased after the mid- 13th-century, and there were also increases in the export of honey,

sugar, salt, grain, iron and alum, a product used in the leather and textile industries. Wine,

whose consumption was prohibited by Islam, became a major export for Christian Spain,

and there were restrictions on wine imports to promote the consumption of Spanish wine.

The Christian political leaders were less directly involved commercial activity than the

previous Muslim leadership, but the Christians imposed more regulations and restrictions,

including papal prohibitions on trading with Muslim countries, resulting in commercial

activity which was less capable of adjusting to market demand (Remie Constable 1994:209-


Demographic trends in the Iberian Peninsula followed the general trends in the rest

of Europe. There was population growth in the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries, but the

poor harvests and widespread famine in the early fourteenth-century created a weakened

populace which was devastated by "... the shattering visitation of the Black Death,

initially in the years 1346-50, then in recurrent later outbreaks" (Fletcher 1992:146).

The Jews fared no better than the Muslims in Christian Spain after the 13th-century,

as increasing restrictions were placed on them and large-scale massacres occurred in Sevilla

and Barcelona in 1391. The 14th and 15th-centuries were a time of economic decline

following the Black Death and the Jews became a target due, in part, to their industry and

wealth. Restrictions were also imposed on Mudejares, but enforcement was generally lax

until the reign of the Catholic monarchs. The union of Castile and Arag6n, and the fall of

Granada intensified the religious conviction that all of Spain be Christian. This culminated

in the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, and of the Moors in 1502. There were massive

conversions before the expulsions, but converted Jews (Marranos or Conversos- ) and

converted Moslems (Moriscos ) were identified as such throughout the 16th-century.

It is the opinion of some that the Inquisition was aimed primarily at the

Conversos- because of their wealth (Kamen 1975:18). The Inquisition was established

in Castile in 1478, but was most active during the last half of the 16th-century; its power

and influence subsided as the economy worsened at the end of the 16th-century. Ill-

treatment of Moriscos led to revolts in 1499 and 1568-70 in Granada. The latter resulted

in the dispersal of Moriscos to Castile. Between 1609 and 1614, almost 300,000

Moriscos were expelled from Spain. The expulsion of the Moriscos was deliberately

chosen to coincide with the 1609 truce with the Dutch so that "the humiliation of peace with

the Dutch would be overshadowed by the glory of removing the last trace of Moorish

dominance from Spain, and 1609 would be ever memorable as a year not of defeat but of

victory" (Elliot 1963:301). The peninsula was experiencing depopulation, and the

expulsion of 4% of the population simply exacerbated an existing trend (Phillips 1987).

The impact was felt most in areas with a substantially high Morisco population such as

Valencia and Arag6n where they comprised 30% and 20% respectively. (Kamen


The Muslim occupation of Spain resulted in a different social development

compared to western Europe, and the result was that Feudalism was only weakly

developed in Castile. Castile was most affected by the Moslem invasion and free peasants

were granted access to the sparsely populated zone between the Christian kingdoms and Al-

Andaluz (Vitale 1968:35). The 13th-century saw the advance of a middle class involved in

export commerce (primarily wool). Serfdom had ended by the late 13th-century in Castile,

and the lack of peasant revolts during the 14th and 15th-centuries ". is evidence of the

comparatively satisfactory condition of the rural classes (Chapman 1918:137). But outside

of Castile, serfdom and serf uprisings continued in the kingdoms of Arag6n and Catalonia

during the 14th and 15th-centuries. In parts of western Europe the nobility grew

progressively stronger in relation to royalty, but in Spain, the 700 year period of fighting

the Moors" ... impeded the consolidation of the nobles, [thereby] strengthening the

centralizing tendency of the kings" (Vitale 1968:35). The development of strong,

independent kings and subordinate nobility in medieval Spain resulted in kingdoms that

viewed each other as foreigners, even after the union of the Catholic monarchs. Castile

was clearly in charge in 16th-century Spain, but Arag6n maintained separate laws and

institutions. Early 16th-century Spain was united only by ". a common religion, a

common gold coinage, and two monarchs who regarded [each kingdom] as separate

compartments of family patrimonies" (McAlister 1984:61).

Castile in the 15th-17th-centuries: Political Economy

The 15th-century was a time of demographic recovery, and when the fall of

Granada in 1492 made the reconquest complete under the Catholic monarchs Isabela of

Castile and Ferdinand of Arag6n the peninsula was "unified" for the first time since the

Roman Empire. The Reconquest had not been a unified effort on the part of the Christian

kingdoms, and even though there was some political unity under the Catholic monarchs,

the peninsula was still very much a collection of separate kingdoms in the late 15th-century.

The 16th-century Spanish agrosystem, based on surpluses of grain, olive oil, wine,

and purebred stock or animal products (e.g. wool and hides) had its basis in the Hispano-

Roman agrosystem prior to AD 500. The Visigoth era saw mostly domestic production,

but there is evidence that Roman agricultural practices regarding plowing, fertilizing, and

fallow were still being practiced, as well as some intensive, commercial production of

wheat and olive oil. The Islamic invasion would have found the basics of the Romano-

Hispanic agrosystem in operation, and even though a number of new crops (sorghum, four

fruit trees, rice, sugar, and cotton) and improved technology (soil fertilization, tree

grafting, extensive irrigation networks) were introduced, this development is seen as

"evolutionary, rather than revolutionary" (Butzer 1988:101-102). By the late 15th

century, the quality of the natural resources of Iberian peninsula had been greatly reduced

compared to the time of the ancient world, and difficulties resulted from inadequate

irrigation, extreme climate variation, inequitable land distribution, and poor soil quality

(Kamen 1991:48). Kamen (1991:48) adds that Spain "... suffered primitive agrarian

methods, poor investment, and bad communications made worse by political and customs

barriers.... Spain's poverty did not make it easy to support an ambitious imperial policy,

and the enterprises of the Catholic Kings were carried out in conditions of constant debt."

Elliot (1963:55) nevertheless writes: "The discovery and conquest of the New

World was, in reality, very far from being a lucky accident for Spain. In many respects the

Iberian peninsula was the region of Europe best equipped for overseas expansion at the end

of the fifteenth-century." The Catalans and Aragonese had been involved in Mediterranean

commerce throughout the medieval period, the Basques were expert shipbuilders, and the

Castilians had been exporting wool to northern Europe since the 12th-century. The

vineyards and olive groves of Andalusia again assumed their Hispano-Roman role as

exports, this time to the colonial holdings of Spain. By 1611, 60% of Spanish shipping

was involved in Mediterranean (20%) and northern European commerce (40%), while 40%

of the ships left for the Americas (Usher 1932:210).

Ferdinand and Isabela had failed to produce a competent heir, and upon their

passing the peninsula was to be ruled by a foreigner. Juana, the daughter of the Catholic

monarchs, was adjudged incompetent to rule and so it was Charles, Juana's son from her

marriage to the Habsburg son of Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, who would be

king of Spain. Charles was raised in Flanders and spoke no Castilian when he took the

throne in 1516 as Charles I of Spain, and became Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire in

1519. Spain bore much of the burden of empire during the reign of Charles V, which

included financing five wars with the French, a continuous fight with the Turks from 1521

to 1556, and battles against the Protestants in the Netherlands (Salmon 1971:67). Charles

V abdicated the Spanish throne to his son Philip in 1556, who would reign until 1598. The

northern European and American trade was controlled by Castile and any discussion of the

Spanish economic decline will most likely focus on the two important commodities which

dominated these two commercial ventures Castilian wool and American treasure,


Earl Hamilton's (1932) classic work on the effects of American treasure on the

Spanish economy employs quantity theory to explain the dramatic rise in prices during the

16th-century. The quantity theory holds that when money is scarce, commodities are

worth less, and conversely, when money is abundant, the price for commodities will be

high. Hamilton demonstrated that the fourfold rise in prices during the 16th-century

coincided with comparable increases in imports of American bullion. Hamilton's (1932)

thesis has been criticized on two main points. First, it is widely known that contraband

trade in bullion was rampant, so it is unlikely that the official bullion figures are accurate.

And second, Hamilton's thesis asserts that American bullion was injected into the

Andalusian economy and created ". a widening circle of rising prices as the silver moved

outwards from Andalusia and spread through Spain and then through other parts of

Europe" (Elliot 1963:190). There is evidence to suggest that most of the manufactured

goods of the American trade were produced outside of Spain, therefore casting doubt on

the assertion that the bullion to pay for these goods would remain in Spain. The primary

cause of the price revolution is uncertain (Elliot 1963:191).

This leads to the question of why the development of manufactured goods

languished in 16th-century Spain. One possible answer lies in the strength of the Mesta -

the powerful organization which advocated advantages for wool producers in Castile. The

first known Mesta charters are from 1273 and some have suggested that the organization

rose to prominence as a result of the Black Death of 1348-50, when depopulation created

large expanses of unused land. The Mesta owned no sheep and was not directly involved

in the marketing of sheep products, but the organization fought for expanding pasturage

and maintaining migration routes, to the detriment of grain production. Wool became the

primary commodity of the mercantile program of the Catholic monarchs and enjoyed certain

privileges (tax and duty exemptions) which broke down the many local medieval

restrictions inhibiting other commodities (Klein 1920).

The power of the Mesta in the first half of the 16th-century was such that some

have suggested that the agricultural expansion required to feed a growing population was

thwarted. "It has long been accepted as an obvious fact that Castilian agriculture was

destroyed by the Mesta... Yet the decline of agriculture was largely due to the tradition the

country, which despised tilling of the land as a menial occupation fit only for serfs and

Moriscos (Davies 1965:20). The high food prices which resulted inhibited the

development of local industry due to the lack of a home market; food prices were too high

to allow the wage-earner to buy "... anything more than the bare minimum required for

their housing, fuel, and clothing" (Elliot 1961:62). The Castilian government tended to

favor luxury industries (e.g. silverworking, luxury clothing and leather goods) and it is

likely that the money-making potential in the northern European wool trade, and the

colonial oil and wine market led to the conversion of farmland to pasturage, vineyards and

olive groves. By the end of the 16th-century Castile was dependent on foreign producers
for its grain supply and many manufactured goods (Elliot 1961:65).

Kamen (1991:52-53) presents an alternative view. He documents renewed interest
in agricultural development during the mid-15th-century to early 16th-century and argues

that Spain simply could not grow enough grain. Certain areas did unusually well the

southern meseta and Andalusia, but production was less constant in Galicia, Asturias, the

Basque country, and Arag6n. Unfortunately, surpluses in one area could not always be

sent to other needy areas, owing to export restrictions and customs barriers. But the

Catholic Monarchs were aware of the problems and took steps to correct them. The

Catholic Monarchs decreed that peasants could change allegiance to their lords and the

export restrictions were reduced in 1500, with the payment of a tax. Wheat was a major

export crop for Andalusia, but Valencia and Castile had to import wheat from outside the

Iberian peninsula on several occasions during the late 15th/early 16th-centuries (Kamen

1991:53). Given the generally poor agricultural productive capabilities of the 16th and

17th-century in the peninsula, it is remarkable that Castile was able to dominate at all.

By 1540 the emperor turned to Castile for support, and was able to levy taxes with

less resistance than in the Netherlands, and was also able to tap the income generated by the

trade with the Indies (Kamen 1991:86). But the emperor had embarked on deficit

spending by 1534 the revenues for the next 6 years had mostly been spent. In all,

Charles left the Spanish monarchy a debt which they would never re-pay (Kamen 1991:89-

90). Charles resigned from the Netherlands in 1555, and from Castile in 1556, and his

son, Philip 1, would continue to fight his father's "enemies" the Protestants in the

Netherlands and the Turks in the Mediterranean. Philip fought the Turks until 1580, then

turned attention to the British Isles and the Netherlands.

The organization of armadas in 1588, 1596, 1597 resulted in failed invasions of the

British Isles (Kamen 1991:134). These invasions were related to the Protestant war in the

Netherlands. As losses mounted, public opinion grew increasingly hostile to involvement

in Flanders. In 1624 an official of the council of the Indies wrote:

"if the Dutch wish to remain in unbelief, why should we have to pursue
such a harmful and ruinous war that has lasted for sixty-six years? Christ
never ordered conversions by force of gun, pike or musket. Nobody
doubts, summed up the distinguished bishop Juan de Palafox in 1650,
"that the wars in Flanders have been the ruin of this monarchy." (Kamen

Was Spain really in control in the Indies? Kamen argues that this control was more

apparent than real. The long distance which orders travelled resulted in colonial officials

assuming more autonomy. The principle 'I obey but do not comply' (Obedezco pero no

cwnplo) was often evoked by colonial officials when mandates from the crown were

thought to be inappropriate or misinformed. The Spanish military presence in the colonies

was not adequate to defend its interests, and foreigners were trading at will with the

Spanish colonies (Kamen 1991:161).

Under Charles V, Spanish involvement in military investment as measured by

troop numbers was never great, but this was to change under Philip. Philip increased

troops to 67,000 in 1572, from 43,000 troops in 1570. Between 1567-1574, 43,000

troops fought in Italy and in 1587, it is estimated that Philip had over 100,000 troops under

his command (although not all were from the Iberian peninsula). "Military expenditure

rose accordingly: The money spent on Spain's internal forces tripled between 1578 and

1594, armament spending tripled between 1581 and 1595" (Kamen 1991:162). Prior to

1528, the peninsula had no real naval force, but between 1560-1574 about 300 galleys

were built. After 1580, Philip started work on an Atlantic navy and by 1587 there were

104 ships in the Atlantic (Kamen 1991:160-163).

Someone had to pay for all of this and between 1559 and 1598, taxes increased by

430 percent but wages increased only 80 percent. Castile declared bankruptcy in 1557,

1560, 1576, and 1596 (Kamen 1991:167). In 1566, foreign financiers were granted

permission to export bullion from the Indies trade as their was little incentive to invest in

Castile with its record of bad credit. The Castilian debt and lack of foreign investment in

Castile during the latter 16th century resulted in a situation where Castile was not in control

of its own future (Kamen 1991:171). Castile had become "... a nation whose economic

fate was dictated by international capitalism. The most glaring example of foreign

control was the commerce of Sevilla" (Kamen 1991:171).

Philip III became king at 28 years of age and ruled from 1598-1621. In 1604,

peace with the English was gained with peace treaty of London, and in 1609 a twelve year

truce was signed with Flanders, but by 1618 hostilities had renewed (Kamen 1991:205-

210). Philip III died in 1621. His successor, Philip IV, became king at age 16 and reigned

from 1621-1665 the period of Spain's greatest crisis. In 1635 France declared war on

Spain, and in 1640, there were revolts in Catalonia and Portugal. The Thirty Years War

ended in 1648, and in 1659 the war with France ended with the Treaty of the Pyrenees.

This marked the end of Spanish hegemony in Europe, which lasted from 1560 to 1660.

"Spain's financial situation was exceptionally bad as a result of the unprecedented effort by

Philip II to make the country into a great power..." (Kamen 1991:214). When Philip IV

died in 1665, the treasury was empty, and the Portuguese rebellion remained unsubdued.

During the 17th century, much of western Europe was experiencing an economic

depression, characterized by frequent epidemics, harvest failures and wars, with a

consequent impact on demography, while population decline in its turn affected production

and the economy" (Kamen 1991:223). Throughout the 16th-century Spain had a hard time

feeding its growing population. Much of the land was either too high or too arid, and

climatic variation made even the more productive areas of the north as well as the eastern

and southern coastal areas, undependable for feeding the rest of the country (Kamen

1991:225). The Spanish economy was in serious decline by the beginning of the 17th-

century, and the political economists of the time recognized the problems and offered

solutions: "The tax system must be overhauled, special concessions be made to agricultural

labourers, rivers must be made navigable, and dry lands irrigated" (Elliot 1963:65). The

opportunity to employ these ideas came in 1609 with the truce with the Dutch, but the years

of peace were passed in ". senseless gaiety ..." due to ". .a whole social system and a

psychological attitude which... blocked the way to radical reform" (Elliot 1963:65-66). It

was also at this time that one of the more unfortunate events of Spanish history took place

- the expulsion of the Moriscos .

Intolerance of Ethnic Diversity and the "Decline" of Spain

The expulsion of the Jews, Moors, and Moriscos, and the persecution of

Conversos are often included into explanations for the decline of 17th-century Spain. The

expulsion of the Jews in 1492 did cause several decades of irregularity in the financial

management of internal and external commerce, but more importantly, many of the Jews

were replaced by Flemings, Germans, and Genoese who would facilitate the flow of

wealth to destinations outside of the peninsula (Elliot 1963:108). The Indies was not

completely in the hands of foreigners as there is evidence of Sevillian merchants and

financiers, and the merchants in one large 16th-century Castilian city (Burgos) were all

native Spaniards. In addition, many of the Genoese and other foreign merchants in Sevilla

were permanent residents with Spanish citizenship (Phillips 1987:536; Pike 1972,1966;

Reitzer 1960:213,216). Most of the large-scale merchants in Sevilla, however, were

indeed foreigners (Kamen 1991).

Likewise, the expulsion of the Moriscos (who were rural and urban laborers and

artisans) is traditionally viewed as contributing to the decline of Spain by depriving areas

(especially Valencia) of a significant portion of its labor force. Phillips (1979,1987)

advocates a Malthusian interpretation of the 16th and 17th-century Spanish economic

situation in that periods of decline were caused by overpopulation. The expulsion of the

Moriscos is viewed as part of a demographic adjustment to a declining resource base faced

with population growth. Failure to intensify agricultural production (e.g. improve

irrigation systems), and unusually dry years are cited as reasons for the decline in the

resource base. Recent demographic studies indicate that Spain experienced strong

population growth beginning about 1450 to the late 16th-century. The epidemics of 1597-

1602 can be attributed to the inability of the economy to either increase agricultural output

or buy enough food. The result was an enfeebled population susceptible to disease

(Phillips 1979, 1987).

While the decline in the Spanish merchant class in the late 16th-century is viewed

by some (Phillips 1987:544) as the result of astute business people cutting their losses and

pursuing other alternatives (such as finance, landownership, officeholding, or other

business ventures) the traditional explanation is that Castilians lacked the "capitalist spirit."

(Elliot 1961:66). They strove, instead, to attain titles of nobility if not from military

success (which was preferred, but increasingly rare as the 16th-century progressed), then

by purchasing it. Positions in the Church were also prestigious and therefore desirable

callings. Servile occupations (which included manual labor and commercial pursuits) were

not seen as proper callings for individuals with aspirations of attaining nobility or entering

the clergy, and the role of this ideology in the Spanish decline should be considered.

Ideology and the "Decline" of Spain:
Santiago, El Cid, and the Spanish "Character"

In 1898, the last remnants of the Spanish "empire" had been lost as Cuba and the

Phillippines became possessions of the United States following the Spanish American War.

The 19th-century had been characterized by political instability and the early 20th-century

was no different for Spain. It was during this time that Spanish intellectuals focused on the

Spanish "character" to account for the predicament which faced the Spanish people. Some

modem historians dismiss this emphasis on "character" as being inappropriate for historical

explanation (e.g. Fletcher 1989), but the attribution of the so-called "decline" of Spain to a

lack of the capitalist "spirit," among other things, and the fact that the Spanish themselves

considered "character" to be associated with their future as a nation, suggests that

considerations of writings concerning the Spanish "character' and/or "spirit" are indeed

appropriate to gain an understanding of Spain.

In AD 845 a church was built on the site of the discovery of the remains of the

Apostle St. James in what is now the province of Galicia. "In 844 a fierce battle took place

at Clafijo in the Ebro valley. According to legend victory was achieved for the Christians

by the miraculous intervention of St. James, mounted on a white charger and putting to the

sword all the Moors in his path. He was then hailed as 'Santiago Matamoros' (the Moor-

slayer) and was recognized throughout the country as the patron saint of Spain" (Marshall-

Cornwall 1981:46-47). Over 700 years after his death, St. James was reinvented and

became a symbol for Christian identity in the Iberian Peninsula of the Middle Ages.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the Catholic Monarchs would again sieze on this

militaristic religious theme as incentive/justification for invading Granada, the last tiny

remnant of Muslim political control. Initially, the conquest of Granada appeared to follow

the earlier medieval pattern of coexistence, but this changed as conversion to Christianity

became a requirement of continued residence in Granada, and a 1499 revolt was the result.

Unlike her medieval predecessors, Isabela supported forced conversions which resulted in

another revolt in 1500 (Kamen 1991:36). The Reconquest was not an example of great

military prowess (after all, it took over 700 years), and the economic gains were not

overwhelming, so perhaps it is not surprising that the Catholic monarchs emphasized the

religious more than the military aspect of the invasion of Granada. This was a defining

moment as it wasn't until the late 15th-century, at the strong persuading of the Catholic

Monarchs, that Christians in Spain ". acquired for the first time the conscious zeal for

the faith which became the distinguishing characteristic of the Spaniard ..." (Salmon

1971:37). This new-found religious zeal formed the rationale for the Inquisition, the

expulsion of the Jews and later, the Moriscos. Ideology had transformed what originally

was a nationalistic conflict between Christian and Muslim states, into an ethnic conflict

between Spanish citizens.

St. James became transformed into Santiago matamoros during the 8th-century

some 700 years after his death, and in the late 19th-century, another long-since-dead

Christian, Rodrigo Dfaz de Vivar (?1043-1099), was re-introduced to the Spanish as "El

Cid" and portrayed as representing the ideal Spaniard. "El Cid", or "leader", as he may

have been called, played a key role in expelling the Moors from Valencia (although only for

a short time). Roughly 800 years after the death of El Cid, Spain was on the brink of civil

war and a Spanish historian would point to El Cid as an example of a true Castilian -

concerned with the unity of the Peninsula in the face of an invading force. El Cid was

presented in order to remind the Spanish people that as "ideal" or "true" Spaniards, like El

Cid, their response to the growing unrest of the time should be unity in the face of

adversity. The fact that Rodrigo Dfaz de Vivar, as a true mercenary, fought for both

Christian and Muslim alike, was not emphasized.

At the end of the 15th-century, it was the monarchy who influenced the religious

fervor which was to characterize the Spanish presence in the Americas, but at the end of the

19th-century, it was the intellectual community who looked to the past to find remedies for

problems in the present. The "present" of Spanish intellectuals at the end of the 19th-

century was one of failed empire (made even worse by the military loss to the U.S. in

1898), and increasing political unrest which would lead to three years of civil war and the

success of a dictator. Writers such as Unanamo, Ram6n Men6ndez Piddl, and Jos6 Ortega

y Gasset chose to focus on the Spanish character in their attempts to understand their

situation. Unanamo, considered the leader of this group which is referred to as the

generation of '98, felt that the Spanish character was best represented by the Christian

kingdoms of the Middle Ages -

... Unanamo all his life was obsessed by the Spain of the Middle Ages. 'I
feel that my soul is mediaeval,' he cries, 'and that the soul of my country is
mediaeval: I feel that it has passed perforce through the Renaissance, the
Reformation, the Revolution, learning from them but never letting its soul
be touched; and Spanish Quixotism is nothing but the despairing struggle of
the Middle Ages against the Renaissance' ["El Sentimiento Trigico de la
Vida," Madrid, 1913]. (Men6ndez Piddl 1950:13)

Ram6n Men6ndez Pidil would glorify a figure from the Middle Ages (El Cid) as the model

Castilian, but he looked further back to define the Spanish character "The greater

localism of Spain does not depend upon a multitude of ethnic-geographic reasons, but on

the contrary, on a uniform psychological condition; it depends upon the original exclusive

character of the Iberians, already noted by the authors of antiquity ..." (Men6ndez Pidal

1950:179). Men6ndez Piddl called it "sober austerity," for Unanamo it was a "... harsh,

dry spirit... with its lack of the sense of compromise" (Men6ndez Pidil 1950:119). But

for Jos6 Ortega y Gasset, the Spanish character was exemplified by pride endless pride

- pride which prevented the acceptance of anything different, regardless of the beneficial


[Spaniards]... are such haters of novelty and innovation. To accept
anything new from the outside would humiliate us, because it would be
equivalent to recognizing that we were not previously perfect, that something
good could be discovered outside ourselves. To the true Spaniard, all
innovation seems frankly a personal offence. (Ortega y Gasset 1937:153)

The Spanish character, as described even by the Spanish economic historian, Jaime

Vicens Vives, was not well-suited for commercial enterprise, as he asserts that "Spain's

genius is anti-economic ..." (Vicens Vives 1969:28-29). Almost a century earlier,

the German historian Wilhelm Roscher (1885:2) elaborated on this theme:

The character of the Spanish people has, from the beginning, been prone to
indolence and pride. All thrifty activity was regarded as despicable. Every
tradesman and manufacturer sought only to make enough money to enable
him to live on the interest of it or to establish a trust fund for his family. If
he was successful he either entered a cloister or went to another province in
order to pass for a noble.

Roscher's statement is reflected in the traditional discussions of the decline of Spain, which

assert that the desire for titles of nobility (i.e., the aversion for manual labor) and positions

in the Church created increased numbers of non-producers (the nobility) and decreased

fertility due to the abstinence vow of the Church. As a broader picture of 17th-century

western Europe is attained through additional historical investigations, it has been

demonstrated that the general economic decline was not isolated to Spain; and further, that

"idleness" or underemployment a symptom of economic backwardness, was common in

the rest of 17th Europe (Elliot 1963:55). Further, there were few hidalgos, or nobles in

Andalusia; most were in central and northern Castile (Defourneaux 1979:82). Phillips

(1987) maintains that increased numbers of clergymen had little effect on the population.

The rising population and failure of the provisioning resource base to keep pace left few

employment opportunities (there was always the Church); decreased reproduction might be

viewed as a logical response for a population which had outgrown its food supply (e.g.

Phillips 1987).


Changing social and political climates lead to new interpretations of historical

processes and events, but more importantly, the continual searching and re-searching of the

mountains of historical documents allows historians to learn more and re-interpret what is

already known even after many histories are written. This is particularly apparent in regard

to interpretations related to the "decline" of Spain. In the first half of the 17th-century, it

was fashionable for the elites of European countries to take the "Spanish Tour"

(Defoumeaux 1979:6). Travelers observed an economy in ruins and a dispirited people, so

it is no wonder that ideas such as the "lack of a capitalistic spirit" took hold in narrative

histories. If the Spanish Tour had begun a century earlier, a much different view of Spain

may have resulted. The work of historians has shown that the early 16th-century Iberian

economy was growing and there were numerous commercial entrepreneurs. The

capitalistic spirit did, in fact, exist in 16th-century Spain, and after a general economic

decline hit Europe, these entrepreneurs weathered the storm in safer, less conspicuous

ventures [(as suggested by Phillips (1987)].

The work of such modem historians as Henry Kamen (1978,1988,1991) and J.H.

Elliot (1961,1963,1991) provide convincing arguments that the problems of 17th-century

Spain were not caused by any attitude which the Spanish had toward commercial activity.

Instead, it seems that the causes of Castile's economic decline lie in a series of internal and

external political and economic factors. The weakness of Visigothic feudalism, coupled

with a strong maritime and military tradition, created a situation whereby a king who was

unable to speak Castilian could drag Castile into a military/commercial role for which it was

ill-prepared. This precarious political formation would operate on an ultimately unreliable

resource base defined largely by Castilian wool production and extraction of American


It appears that the image of mid-seventeenth-century Spain as a failed attempt at

empire can be replaced with that of a once-rich peninsula whose resources had been

continually extracted by a series of invaders since ancient times the most recent

"invaders" being the Holy Roman Empire and its obsession with stamping out disbelievers.

There was no decline of Spain, only a general economic recession experienced by all of

Europe after fighting with itself for over one hundred years. This conflict would continue

for the next three and a half centuries, although it would not be for religious reasons; Spain

would be involved, but only as a minor player.

Castile appears to be an early example of economic dependency in the post-1500

world, and in effect functioned as a "colony" of the Holy Roman Empire. Its domestic

economy was organized to support the commercial and military activities of the Holy

Roman and Habsburg Empires under Charles V, and even though Philip H was politically

no longer a part of either empire, he continued to fight the Protestants in Flanders to the

detriment of Castile. Foreign merchants and financiers had gained a foothold in Castile

during the time of Charles V and continued during the time of Philip II. This involvement

of foreign commercial and financial interests meant that the wealth of the Indies was not re-

invested in Castile to develop its own manufacturing sector, but rather funneled to the rest

of Europe. As a result, Castile became dependent on the rest of Europe for many of its

manufactured goods.

Dependency of a different sort has even been reflected in the writing of Spanish

history. Julian Marfas (1990:xi), for example, writes:

One of the greatest difficulties is that the history of Spain has usually been
written and, to be sure, by Spaniards themselves from the viewpoint of
other European countries, from an angle that might be adequate for
understanding them .. .. but which is not adequate for understanding the
Spanish reality. A good part of the impression of 'strangeness' that Spain
has aroused comes from this, as when it is discovered that a certain fish is
most peculiar until we realize that it is not a fish at all, but a bird.

Marfas suggests that the perception of the "strangeness" presented by foreign historians is

due, in part, to the fact that the Spanish have had a long tradition of interaction with the

"other" the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors all

came to the Iberian Peninsula and contributed to the cultural traditions manifested in

sixteenth and seventeenth-century Castile.

The "others" came to the Iberian peninsula to extract wealth in one form or another.

The Phoenicians introduced commodity production in support of extractive industries to the

Iberian peninsula with production of pottery containers for the maritime transport of wine

and olive oil. The Greeks, Romans, and Moors would continue the extractive tradition in

the Iberian peninsula, and in the 16th- 18th-century, it was the Spanish who brought this

extractive tradition to the New World. The Iberian peninsula is therefore an ideal test case

for the investigation of the development of support commodity production in the post-1500

world. Chapter 4 will focus on one such example of support commodity production the

production of pottery containers in the Iberian Peninsula for the maritime transport of wine

and olive oil.




The study of amphoras/olive jars has had an uneven development, but within the

last 20 years, advances in both recovery techniques and methodological approach have

allowed a more complete picture of one of the longest pottery traditions known to

archaeologists. The development of more advanced underwater investigative capabilities

during World War II (i.e., the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) led to the

increased underwater exploration of shipwrecks after the 1960s. The integration of

shipwreck archaeology and historical documents with terrestrial archaeology, as well as

with natural science techniques for determining provenience, function, and method of

manufacture, has created a research strategy capable of generating data beyond chronology

which can address research questions related to political-economic-social concerns.

Prior to the development of underwater archaeology, archaeologists had to rely on

the oftentimes fragmentary remains of amphora/olive jars recovered from land sites, but

exemplary work was nonetheless produced. The pioneering work of the German scholar

Heinrich Dressel in the late nineteenth-century resulting in a typological system for Roman

amphoras which is still incorporated into the most recent works on amphora typology (e.g.

Peacock and Williams 1986; Sciallano and Sibella 1994). The distinctive amphora shapes

produced by the various Greek city states allowed Greek amphoras to be used as a

chronological tool, but this has been more closely linked to classical than to economic

studies. Most notable is the summary work by Virginia Grace first published in 1961,


which is still cited by studies of Greek amphoras today. John Goggin's classic

"introductory" work on Spanish olive jars published in 1960 used what little shipwreck

material available at the time, but relied primarily on excavated material from land sites.

The result is still the most comprehensive study of olive jars which has received only minor

revisions in thirty years.

A review of amphora studies of antiquity illustrates the fruitful results that are

obtainable when more than one data base is used. Studies of Greek and Roman amphoras

integrate the data bases from archaeology (both terrestrial and underwater) with historical

documents, writings of the classical authors, and technological studies of composition

petrologyy), method of manufacture, and function. These data are then used to answer

economic questions of production, distribution and consumption. Most of the work has

been related to distribution, but newer studies are using shipwreck data to investigate

production, for example, in Roman Spain (Curchin 1991:130). Most notable is the work

by K. Greene (1986) summarizing 78 Roman Spanish shipwrecks during the first two

centuries A.D (Curchin 1991:130). Vessel contents are associated with specific forms,

and production levels of wine, olive oil, and salted marine products can be inferred from

the proportions of the specific amphora on the shipwrecks. After the 7th-century AD,

amphoras were not widely used. There appears to have been a general decline in

commercial activity in the western Mediterranean, and it is also suggested that there was a

shift to use of barrels (Unger 1980:51-52). The amphora tradition is documented in the

eastern Mediterranean during this time period and there is evidence for recycling of

Byzantine amphoras on two wrecks one from the 7th-century and the other from the 11 th-

century (van Doomick 1989:256). Byzantine amphoras continue to be used in small

numbers in the Eastern Mediterranean until the 14th-century, when they finally disappear

(Bakirtzis 1989).

This chapter briefly reviews the work on amphoras to form the context for

understanding olive jar production in 16th-l8th-century Castile. The direct lineage of the

Spanish olive jar cannot be determined in an unbroken sequence from Late Roman amphora

to olive jar, but it is clear that the second half of the 16th, as well as 17th and 18th-centuries

saw a marked increased in the use of olive jars as indicated by the large quantities recovered

by archaeologists in both Northern Europe and the Americas.

The Canaanite Jar (1800 B.C. 1200 B.C.)

The first pottery maritime transport container to be used on a large scale in the

Mediterranean was the Canaanite jar. The Canaanite jar was present in the Middle Bronze

age at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. in the north Lebanese-Syrian coastal

area. The pointed or rounded base is considered to represent a "technological revolution"

as mechanical stresses from impact are dissipated more effectively with a rounded as

opposed to flat base (Parr 1973). It is suggested that the occurrence of this shape

represents a transport container which would be subjected to more bumps than a domestic

storage container. The earlier Canaanite Jar forms are oval shaped with short necks,

thickened rims, and small loop handles just below the shoulder. Later forms have a much

more angular shoulder and conical body shape (Grace 1956; Amiran 1970). The jars

described in detail by Virginia Grace (1956:101-109) are unglazed, apparently coil-built

rather than fast wheel thrown, and range in capacity from 22,575 cm3 to 6,495 cm3

(volume determined with wheat). There is no mention of slip or other interior lining.

Documentary evidence indicates that incense, sefet oil, and olive oil were most commonly

transported in the jars; "honeyed wine" was less commonly transported (Grace 1956:98).

Stamps and incised marks are found on the handles and shoulders of the jars. Canaanite

jars are found in the areas of Bronze Age Egyptian and Greek empires where they were


A late Bronze Age shipwreck located near Ulu Burun, Turkey, dating to the 14th-

century B.C., carried a cargo of close to 150 Canaanite jars filled with pitch, in addition to

copper, tin and glass ingots. The jars come three sizes ranging from 59 cm to 50 cm in

height, and 24 cm to 39.5 cm in diameter. There is evidence that potsherds were used as

stoppers. Organic material such as small bones and snail shells suggests that the jars had

carried other commodities before being reused as pitch containers (Pulak 1988).

Phoenician and Punic Amphoras (1200 B.C. 200 B.C.)

After the beginning of the Iron Age in Canaan (ca. 1200 B.C.), the people of that

region are referred to as "Phoenicians". Even though there were no qualitative changes in

the make-up of the Canaanite people, the Canaanites became Phoenicians in the eyes of

scholars after 1200 B.C., in part because it creates a division (albeit an arbitrary one)

between the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in Canaan, and also because there was a

shrinking of territory of the Canaanite territory as described in Chapter 2. When the

Phoenicians in Spain moved east out of the peninsula some time in the beginning of the

6th-century B.C., and Carthage established dominance, the Phoenicians who settled and

lived in Carthage are referred to as Punic or Carthaginian. But this Carthaginian hegemony

did not occur until the end of the sixth-century B.C., and so the Phoenicians in Spain from

the period between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C. are referred to as Phoenician (Aubet 1993:5-

12). In sum, terminology for the Near Eastern line of pottery maritime transport container

(amphora) is as follows:

from 1800 B.C. to 1200 B.C. Canaanite Jar;

from 1200 B.C. to 600 B.C. (in the west) Phoenician amphora;

from 600 B.C. to 333 B.C. (in the west) Punic or Carthaginian


Phoenician amphora in Spain and Morocco during the 8th-century B.C. are more

bulbous than the sharp-shouldered, conical Canaanite jars of the Late Bronze Age, and the

8th-century Phoenician amphora in Carthage and Malta resemble the oval-shaped 15th-

century B.C. Canaanite Jars (Bartolini 1988b). Bartolini (1988b:499) states that the pattern

of amphora development in the west is the exact opposite in the east. Both the oval and

conical forms were introduced in the west, but in the east the conical sharp-shouldered

form came to predominate, while in the west the oval form was much more common.

Vessel capacity ranges from 20 to 25 liters (5.3 to 6.6 gallons) very similar to the

Canaanite Jar. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Phoenician amphora carried

"grain, fish and bits of meat preserved wine" (Bartolini 1988a:84). The transport of wine

and olive oil is presumed, although there is no direct evidence for it. Ribera Lacomba

(1982) describes Iberian imitations of Phoenician amphoras in the region of present day

Valencia. Recycling of Phoenician wine amphoras is found in Herodotus amphoras

exported from Syria to Egypt were emptied of their contents (wine) and filled with water

for use on the desert road to Syria (Grace 1961:4; Mallowan 1939:87). The large elongate

Punic amphora were used as ossuariess and sepulchral urns for children" (Bartolini


"It is significant that in western Andalusia the 8th and 7th-centuries B.C. witnessed

a spread of the use of iron, and of the potter's wheel" (Aubet Semmler 1988:228). Aubet

Semmler (1988:232) describes "industrial districts" in eastern Phoenician Spain dedicated

to metal working and pottery production at the end of the 8th-century B.C. In one city,

Toscanos (in eastern Andalusia), the remains of a large warehouse have been investigated.

Amphoras and jars for the transport of wine, oil and wheat were found inside. Greek

amphoras from the city states of Attica, Rhodes, and Corinth have been found in 7th-

century B.C. contexts at Toscanos. In Spain "During the entire 7th-century B.C. goods

were delivered to Phoenician ports from the East, from Cyprus, eastern Greece,

Pithekoussa and even Etruria, probably in exchange for wheat, oil, and wine" (Aubet

Semmler 1988:236). The Phoenicians left Spain during the 6th-century B.C., and Greek

influences have been identified in formerly Phoenician areas of western Andalusia.

The beginning of the Punic period in Spain is marked by the arrival of the

Carthaginians during the 6th-century B.C. "The Punic period reflected a new socio-

economic situation in which the old Phoenician mercantile ports were replaced by urban

centres ..." (Aubet Semmler 1988:237). There is also more indication of rural

settlements in the interior areas of eastern Spain where there was commodity production of

wine, and oil in contrast to the primarily coastal agricultural pattern of the Phoenicians.

The beginning of the 6th-century B.C. starts a trend toward larger, more elongate

amphoras in Carthage. "Production seems to have taken place at several centres. A kiln is

known at Knouass in Morocco (Ponsich 1967), while production is well documented on

Ibiza (Ram6n 1981) and has been postulated for the Carthage region and Tripolitania (van

der Werff 1978)" (Peacock and Williams 1986:22).

Greek Amphoras (700 B.C. 86 B.C.)

Virginia Grace (1961) suggests that the development of the Greek amphora, which

first appeared during the 7th-century B.C., was inspired by the Canaanite Jar. The Greek

city states manufactured amphora in distinct forms so it is readily apparent if an amphora

was manufactured in Rhodes, Corinth, Knidos, Thasos, Chios, etc. (Peacock and

Williams1986:22). Petrological work has shown that the fabrics of the various city states

might be distinguished petrographically (Whitbread 1986). Classical documents indicate

that amphoras had standardized sizes within the Greek city states (Wallace 1986:87),

although these standards varied between the different states and also through time (Grace

1961:11). Archaeological work on both landsites and Greek shipwrecks has generally

verified this standardization (Grace 1961; Koehler and Wallace 1987).

The stamps on Greek amphora handles may indicate the origin of the amphora

either by mentioning the specific state or leader; sometimes the month is given. On the

island of Thasos in the late 5th-century B.C. a decree stated "... if someone buys wine in

wine jars, the purchase shall be valid if (the seller) has stamped a seal on the jars" (Meijer

and van Mijf 1992:111). Grace (1961:11) states "... the chief purpose may have been to

fix more closely the responsibility for their being containers of standard capacity, while one

effect must have been to date the contents, identifying for instance the age or special vintage

of the finer kinds of wine, and the freshness of the cheaper which were not worth drinking

after a year." The name of the potter and dating official occur on one type of Greek

amphora. Counting of the stamps has been used to investigate change of production

locales and levels through time, but such studies have received criticism as not all handles

were stamped while sometimes one handle was stamped and sometimes both were stamped

(Garlan 1983; Peacock and Williams 1986:22-23).

Grace (1961:1) suggests that wine was the commodity most often transported in

Greek amphora, while olive oil, preserved fish, and pitch were common, but secondary to

wine. The Greek wine amphoras, like the Phoenician wine amphoras, were also recycled

by the Egyptians for use as water containers along the desert road to Syria. Documentary

evidence indicates that the amphoras from the various city states were referred to by using

their name of origination, for example, so many "Knidians" or "Rhodians" of wine. There

is also documentary evidence that Greek amphoras were used as weapons. A defending

Greek force is said to have dug a large hole, filled it with amphoras, and covered it with

dirt and grass to simulate natural ground cover. When the advancing army came upon the

trap, the weight of the horses broke the amphoras, causing the horses to fall and break their

legs (Grace 1961:5).

One good example of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Greek amphoras

is the work of Pamela Vandiver and Carolyn Koehler (1986) on Corinthian amphoras.

Koehler's (1978, 1979) descriptive work on Corinthian amphoras investigated the

distribution patterns of Corinthian amphora in the Mediterranean world. From 700 B.C. to

150 B.C. there exist two types of Corinthian amphora Type A and Type B. Type A had a

globular body with elongate neck, thick rim and stirrup handles, while Type B has a more

conical base and thinner rim. The stamps that sometimes occur on the handles are not

precisely understood they may represent makers' marks, or perhaps verification of vessel

capacity. Resinous lining found on some Type B amphoras suggests that this type might

have held wine. The stamps alone were not sufficient to determine vessel contents. But

with the addition of technological studies, Vandiver and Koehler (1986) present evidence

that Type A carried olive oil and Type B carried wine.

Type A amphoras were handbuilt, had coarse temper, and were fired to higher

temperatures than Type B amphoras. These higher temperatures, along with the addition of

potash flux and a redox firing schedule (part oxidizing, part reducing firing atmosphere)

resulted in the formation of a glassy phase on the surfaces and thus rendered the Type A

vessels impermeable. Type B amphoras were fast wheel thrown, had smaller aplastic

inclusions, and were permeable. It is suggested that the higher firing temperature required

coarse temper in order to maintain vessel shape during firing. The coarse temper

necessitated handbuilding as the larger temper particles would make fast-wheel throwing a

painful experience for the potters. Both Types were manufactured in stages, with the major

part of the body being made upside down.

After 300 B.C., Type Al replaces Type A. Type Al is fast-wheel thrown, fired at

lower temperatures than Type A, and permeable. Several interpretations are suggested.

Type Al may represent a cost-cutting move in manufacture. Handbuilding requires more

time than fast-wheel throwing, and the higher firing temperatures requires both a longer

firing schedule and more fuel. The change may also indicate changes in vessel contents.

One possible interpretation not mentioned is the fact that reuse was no longer a concern.

The Type A impermeable amphora could be reused for olive oil transport. It is possible

that the Shift to Type A 1 represents the production of a one-way only olive oil container.

Circumstantial evidence for workshop production is offered. Even though the

forms are not particularly uniform, there is evidence that many amphoras were made at one

time. Little effort was expended in smoothing production marks, and corrective measures

indicative of rapid drying are observed. Whatever the case, the addition of technological

studies to Greek amphora has allowed archaeologists to obtain more information of the


A Hellenistic shipwreck at Serge Limani, Turkey dating between 280-275 B.C.

(based on the amphora stamps) contained a cargo of over 600 amphoras. With few

exceptions, the amphora have been tentatively identified as Knidian (Pulak and Townsend

1987). Resinous linings and grape seeds found in some of the jars suggest that they

contained wine. No evidence of stoppers was recovered. Two sizes were identified and

the volume of 89 large amphoras and 24 small amphoras was measured. The large jars

have an average capacity of 38.0 liters (range 34.6 to 42 liters) and the small jars average

10.87 liters (range 9.3 11.3 liters) (Koehler and Wallace 1987). These measurements

cannot be taken as representing the amount of product transported. Wine is generally given

"head space" to allow space for expansion. U.S. standards require 5-8% "head space"

(Mair 1983:102). The variation within the two general sizes might be explained by the

differing amounts of resin lining remaining in each amphora. But since amphora are not

mold-made, some degree of variation is to be expected even with a potter's best efforts at

standardization. The important thing is the ratio of the large to small capacities. The

Knidian standard measure is not known and it is hoped that continued capacity studies

might lead to determining the size of the standard measures of Kouass.

Roman Amphoras (130 B.C. A.D. 395)

Greek influences in Italy during the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. led to the

development of Greco-Roman amphoras, the forerunners of the Roman amphora which

developed sometime around 130 B.C. (Peacock and Williams 1986:23-24). D.P.S.

Peacock has made significant contributions in the area of using a multi-disciplinary

approach to the study of Roman amphora production as his work integrates petrographic

analysis, social factors, and economic models to understand production and distribution

patterns in the Roman world. Much of the following discussion of Roman amphoras will

draw on Peacock's work (Peacock 1977,1982; Peacock and Williams 1986).

In amphora studies or "amphorology" the Roman amphora were the first to receive

comprehensive treatment. The work of Heinrich Dressel on the stamps and forms in the

late nineteenth-century is still referred to today. Recent compilations of amphora forms and

distributions (e.g. Peacock and Williams 1986; Sciallano and Sibella 1994) still use many

of Dressel's identifications.

The uses of Roman amphoras are numerous:

Callender (1965) lists the following functions for Roman amphorae: their
use as hearths, paving, water butts, flower pots, money chests, acoustic
pots, store cupboards, war weapons, boundary marks, burials, sanitary
vessels; and as containers for chalk, lime, olives, fish sauce, salted fish,
fruits, dried fruits, nuts, pepper, beans, lentils, honey, grain, flour,
unguents, hair remover, milk, water, vinegar, urine, medicines and potters
clay! Sir Mortimer Wheeler (in a lecture) quoted a site in Romania where
amphorae had been found with nails inside. (Rahtz 1974:100)

1,350,000 Roman amphoras containing finely washed potters clay were found at Turin

(White 1975:123). But wine and olive oil were the principle commodities transported in

Roman amphoras (Sealy 1985:9). Wine was carried in the large, cylindrical Roman

amphora, while olive oil was carried in the globular amphora. A third size, the "carrot"

shape, probably carried honey, valued fruit, or unguents and perfume. White (1975:124)

notes references in the classical texts to fiber-covered amphora for both wine and oil, and

suggests that this covering is for protection during use on the farm. Others have suggested

that such coverings possibly esparto weaves were also for the protection of amphora

during transport.

Like Greek amphoras, Roman amphoras were marked. These marks included

stamps on the handles, spike or body, incised writing on the shoulder, and painted writing

- titula picta on the shoulder. The meaning of the stamps is not precisely known, they

might represent potter's marks, place of manufacture, or the name of the owner of the

operation. Although the painted inscriptions are fairly rare, they are very valuable as they

can provide information about the date, in addition to the origin and description of the

contents. The painted inscriptions have indicated that wine was transported in a cylindrical

amphora (specifically Dressell 2-4), and olive oil was transported in the globular forms

(specifically Dressel 20) (Peacock and Williams 1986:2, 9-16). Titula picta on Haltem 70

amphora recovered from a shipwreck indicated that the contents were defrutum a sweet,

non-alcoholic viscous substance ". obtained by boiling must (grape juice) ... used to

conserve fruit, to improve the taste of bitter or unpleasant wine, to make up a drink for

slaves, to feed bees, and for various medical and other purposes" (Parker and Price


The technique of Roman amphora manufacture appears to have involved a stepped

process of fast-wheel throwing, and paddle and anvil. Josine Schuring (1984) suggests

that the cylindrical amphora were thrown in sections four cylinders thrown separately

were joined together to form the body. Drops of clay on the interior of the shoulder

indicate that the base was closed while the vessel was upside down. Peacock and Williams

(1986:46) relate that the manufacture technique might incorporate stages of wheel throwing

and coil building at spaced intervals to allow the body to stiffen and thereby provide a solid

base to add additional coils, which then would be wheel smoothed. Sciallano and Siballa

(1994:12) present a technically less precise scenario, but one that is possibly more accurate

in terms of what can be interpreted from visual examination. Upside down

throwing/handbuilding for both the cylindrical and globular forms was quite likely.

Schuring (1984:61) states that the joins between cylinders which form the body are not

visible and infers that they have been smoothed away. White (1975:123) writes:

Some amphorae were made entirely on the wheel, as may be proved by the
typical 'rills' made in the process of building up. Others were hand-
thrown, perhaps around a rope core, Many extant specimens show
evidence of having been made in two sections, an upper and a lower, which
were afterwards joined together. Callender (p. 42) cites evidence of visible
finger-marks made by the potter kneading in the joints.

Whatever the manufacture process, there can be little doubt that the most expedient

technique was preferred given the large quantities of amphora that were produced.

Preparation of the amphora paste is not well known, and given the presence of

aplastic particles it is unclear if these aplastics were added intentionally or if clay sources

with such inclusions were selected for use. Studies of Catalan wine amphora (Dressel 2-4)

indicate that there was a minimum of clay processing as clay sources with coarse aplastic

inclusions occur naturally. Such inclusions are required for structural reasons during the

forming, drying, and firing of large pottery vessels. The presence of these coarse

inclusions make amphora sherds well suited for petrographic analysis of thin sections taken

from amphora fragments. Peacock was able to make major contributions by applying

petrology to amphora studies (Sealy 1985:4). The Catalan Dressel 2-4 and other amphora

forms have an external white-colored surface which resembles a slip but is actually the

result of a bleaching action by soluble salts during firing (Peacock and Williams 1986:44-

45). Peacock and Williams (1986:45) have reproduced the effect experimentally by adding

salt to the fabric. It is unknown if the effect was intentional or if there was naturally

occurring salt in the water used for clay preparation.

The location of numerous amphora kiln sites is known, but few have received

intensive archaeological treatment. The amphora kilns that have been investigated do not

appear to be standardized beyond being large, updraught and generally round, ranging

from 3.5 to 5.5 meters in diameter (Peacock and Williams 1986:47). Peacock and

Williams (1986:67-77) list the known probable amphora kiln sites; the breakdown is as


Britain 1 So. France 40 Italy 14 Lybia 3

Portugal 2 Spain 30+ Yugoslavia 1

Many of these sites are amphora waster dumps the presence of a nearby kiln is inferred,

but has not been field verified. In Spain and France, as can be expected, the great majority

of the amphora production areas are associated with the areas of agriculture, arboriculture,

and fisheries along the coast line and in the major river valleys. One exception is located

in France well away from the Mediterranean. In some areas amphora production is

associated with brick manufacture and coarse earthenwares associated with handling

liquids, but not with the production of fine wares.

Condamin et al. (1976) were able to determine if an amphora sherd held olive oil by

directly analyzing the fabric of the amphora through the technique of gas chromatography.

The lack of resinous sealant on the interior of olive oil amphora is verified in the classical

documents: "... Columella ( Re Rustica 12.49.11) warns not to line vessels with pitch

if they were destined to store olives preserved in their oil" (Heron and Pollard 1982).

Roman olive oil amphora which carried oil from Spain to Rome were permeable and

unlined. The oil soaked into the fabric of the amphora and rendered the vessels unusable

after they had transported their contents. A huge mound (50 meters high) of broken

amphora was the result (Will 1977; Keay 108:103). The resinous interior sealing observed

on some amphoras has been identified as pine resin (Heron and Pollard 1988; Beck et al.

1989). The presence of resin on the interior has generally been interpreted as the sealant

associated exclusively with wine transport, but contents other than wine have been found in

such amphora (Heron and Pollard 1988:430). Heron and Pollard used gas chromatology-

mass spectrometry in their analysis of Roman amphora, and as did Beck et al. (1989), who

also used IR spectroscopy, and thin layer chromatography in their analysis of a collection

of amphora sherds recovered from the harbor of Carthage. The collection analyzed by

Beck et al. (1989) included Punic, Greek, Greco-Italian, Roman, and Byzantine (4-7th-

century) amphora sherds. The collection consisted of thousands of sherds, but only small

percentages from each period had evidence of a sealant.

Amphora studies have done much to clarify the Roman Spanish economy and its

relationship to the rest of the Roman world. Sealy (1985) reports that at Colcester

Sheepen, amphora-borne imports during the first century A.D. Roman era were

predominantly from Spain. Imports of olive oil, salted fish products, and defrutum came

exclusively from Spain, and of all Spanish imports in amphoras, olive oil was the most

dominant more so than wine. Williams (1981) reports high densities of Spanish-

produced amphoras in some Late Iron Age, pre-conquest sites in southern Britain. Italian

amphoras are also recovered from these sites. Williams suggests that this area of Britain

may not have been "anti-Roman" in the immediate pre-conquest period. Riley (1981)

emphasizes that Roman pottery production is characterized by three organizational

processes: 1. agricultural-related production (i.e., amphora, bulk containers, storage jars),

2. commercial-related production (i.e., fine pottery), and 3. utilitarian wares (coarse,

undecorated functional wares). He also mentions brick and tile production as related to the

building industry. Riley (1981) notes that amphora and fine pottery production rarely

coincide and therefore the traditional focus on fine pottery neglects certain portions of the

overall organizational character of pottery production.

In the ancient world, transport by water was by far the most cost efficient mode of

transport one researcher suggests that the cost ratios for sea transport, inland waterway

transport, and land transport was 1:4.9:28-56 for the Roman period. The archaeological

distribution of amphoras bears this out as amphora fragments are overwhelmingly found in

close proximity to coastal areas. The manufacture locale must also be thought of in terms

of transportation costs. Peacock and Williams (1986:39) begin this discussion with the

presumption that it would be most efficient to package the wine or olive oil in amphoras at

the site where the commodities were produced and thus hypothesizes estate production of

amphoras. Estate amphora production appears to occur in North Africa as neutron

activation analysis of amphora sherds indicates a large number of "small clusters of

amphorae with similar chemical composition which is exactly the pattern one might expect

from relatively small-scale production on scattered estates" (Peacock and Williams

1986:41-42). Peacock and Williams (1986:42) also find evidence for estate production of

amphoras in Gaul and around Barcelona. But the pattern in the Guadalquivir River valley

is different in that production appears to be centralized. Amphora kiln sites with up to 25

stamps at a single kiln site indicate that one kiln might produce amphora for a number of

estates. The location of the kilns along a water transportation feature further suggest that

the high cost of transporting the bulky (and heavy) amphoras by land might be reduced by

manufacturing and filling the amphoras next to a river. A clearer case of specialization in

amphora production is seen in the production of garum or fish sauce in the CAdiz area

where "huge waste heaps ... composed almost exclusively of amphorae" have been

located (Peacock and Williams 1986:43). The organization of amphora production appears

to vary, perhaps as the scale of production varies. The large scale production of olive oil

and garum in Baetica may have required the services of potters devoted solely to the

production of amphoras, while the amphora needs of smaller estates could be met by on-

site amphora production.

Shipwreck archaeology has also contributed much to the understanding of the

Roman Iberian economy. Leonard Curchin (1991) summarizes both terrestrial and

underwater archaeology during the Roman period in Spain. The nature of Spanish

production is reflected in the amphora of Roman shipwrecks of Spanish origin. From 78

such shipwrecks dating from 50 B.C. to A.D. 250, "... the cargoes consisted of 66

percent garum (fish paste), 16.5 percent olive oil, and 7.5 percent metals; however in the

last century of this period, oil amphoras outnumbered those containing garum" (Curchin

1991:130-131). At a Roman seaport in Italy Ostia the pattern of imports from Roman

colonies can be compared by comparing the origins of the various amphora. Spain clearly

dominated in the first century A.D., and was co-leader with Gaul in the second century, but

in the 3rd and 4th-centuries, North Africa was dominant and Spain and Gaul were much

reduced (Curchin 1991:131). Curchin (1991:152) suggests that the predominance of North

Africa in the 3rd and 4th-centuries might be related to the type of amphora. Dressel 20,

which held just 77 liters, was the standard olive oil container for Baetica. "African oil

producers developed a cylindrical amphora which was lighter and more closely packable

that the clumsy globulars. By the mid-third century Africa had supplanted Baetica as the

main supplier of oil to Rome, and by the late third, she had also become the main supplier

of Hispania... Baetican production never stopped, but exports were reduced to a trickle"

(Curchin 1991:152-153). Olive oil was Spain's main export mainly from Guadalquivir

River Valley, wine was produced for export along the eastern coast. The coastal area

around CAdiz was a major production area for salted fish products. Sciallano and Sibella's

(1994) distribution map for Dressel 20 (the olive oil amphora), Dressel 2-4 (the wine

amphora), and Haltem 70 (salted fish products) demonstrate this regional differentiation in

oil versus wine production, and salted fish product production. Figure 7 shows various

amphora forms and their respective contents.

Archaeological field surveys have found a complete absence of Dressel 20 amphora

east of C6rdoba an important olive oil production region. Curchin (1991:135) suggests

that since the Guadalquivir is not navigable east of C6rdoba, and the Dressel 20 amphoras

were too bulky to transport long distances by land, oil from upstream of C6rdoba was

transported in skins (wood for barrels was scarce). These skins of wine may have been

transported by either carts or mules. It is estimated from medieval records that ". a cart

could cover, at most, 25 miles a day in central Spain." (Curchin 1991:135). One mule

could carry a 300 lb. load. Roman merchant ships ranged from 100 to 500 tons and "one

well-preserved vessel discovered off the south coast of France could have held between

5,800 and 7,800 amphora, arranged in three or four layers" (Curchin 1991:135-136).

Wooden barrels (said to be of Gallic origin) came into use at the end of the Early Roman

Empire (Roug6 1981:71). It has been suggested that 500 ton ships and elaborate port

facilities were rare, and that 100 ton ships, and beaching and offloading into smaller boats

were more common, respectively (Houston 1988).


!0 1|


(adapted from Sciallano and Sibella 1994:115-116)


FIGURE 7. Roman Amphoras and their contents.

Byzantine Amphoras (A.D. 395-1453)

The Byzantine or Eastern Roman empire was formed with the collapse of the

western Roman empire in the late 4th-century A.D. Much less work has focused on the

Byzantine amphora, but the last ten years has seen an increase in Byzantine amphora

studies. Byzantine amphoras are widely distributed from the 5th through 7th-century as

Byzantines controlled much of the coastal area of the Mediterranean, including southern

Spain. Amphora production seems to have been principally in the eastern Mediterranean.

There was an apparent decline in amphora production after the 7th-century, but production

continued at a smaller scale until into the 12th-century. No Byzantine amphora kiln sites

which date after the 7th-century have been identified. This may indicate a shift in container

preference as one port city known for amphora production in Roman times, Campania,

became a prolific producer of wooden barrels in the later middle ages (Arthur 1989:88).

The increasing use of barrels seen by the 7th-century is described as a" revolutionary

change in shipping" (Unger 1980:51; Lewis 1978:3). Barrels can be stowed more

efficiently than amphoras, and further, the barrel comprises 10% of the cargo while an

amphora makes up 40% of the cargo. Therefore a smaller ship can transport the same

amount of cargo in barrels as a ship 30% bigger transporting cargo in amphora (Unger

1980:52). But wine transported in a sealed amphora will keep much better than wine in a

barrel, which is not air tight, and the wines shipped in barrels during the later middle ages

had to be consumed shortly after arriving at their destinations (Unwin 1991:165).

Regarding amphora production locale, ". aside from a limited number of major

production centres, amphorae were produced in small quantities literally over most of the

Mediterranean wherever surpluses of agricultural products were available for re-distribution

(Arthur 1986, 1989).

Although three major amphora forms appear to have continued, the "transition"

from late Roman to Byzantine amphorae is characterized by the loss of the long spike on

elongate forms. By the 9th-century there was an elongate form, a globular form, and a

small "carrot"-shaped form (Bakirtzis 1989). The elongate and globular forms have been

identified as early as the 7th-century (Bass and van Doominck 1982). In some areas these

forms continue into the 12th-century (Bjelajac 1989), while in other areas these Roman-like

forms were abandoned after the 10th-century and replaced by "butterfly" handles and more

variation in shape. Stamp impressions no longer occur after the 11th-century. Byzantine

amphora production seems to have ceased some time in the 14th-century (Bakirtzis 1989).

Archaeological excavations at two Byzantine shipwrecks dating to the 7th and 11th-

century have provided large assemblages of amphoras (Bass and van Doominck

1978,1982; van Doominck 1989). The cargo from the 7th-century wreck located near

Yassi Ada is estimated to have included between 850-900 amphoras. Both the elongate and

globular types are represented, and four subtypes of the globular type were described. Of

the 822 vessels examined, 162 are the elongate variety, 641 are large globular and 78 are

small globular (Bass 1982).

Earlier work on measuring the capacity of Byzantine amphoras had concluded that

standardization did not exist (Wallace 1986), but later analysis determined that 80% of the

globular forms could be divided into four sub types, and it was found that standardized

forms did in fact exist within the various subtypes. The remaining 20% of the globular

amphora were categorized into some 40 distinct subtypes on the basis of handle

morphology decoration. Regarding paste, all of the four main subtypes have the same

paste, and roughly half of the other 40 subtypes also share this same fabric. Incised

marking is rare on both the elongate and the four main subtypes of globular amphora, but

very common on the 40 subtypes of globular forms. Only one stamped amphora was

recovered and it was interpreted as an earlier form, along with most of the 40 subtypes of

globular amphora (van Doorninck 1989). Grape seeds and olive pits were recovered from

the amphora and it is concluded that all the amphoras contained wine (olives were

sometimes shipped in wine).

The 1 lth-century shipwreck at Serge Liman, Turkey also contained amphoras, as

well as broken Islamic glass pieces and Islamic glass scraps or cullet (Bass and van

Doominck 1978). Eighty-nine piriform amphoras were recovered, and although their

contents are not certain, wine is suggested. One subtype represented by 50 amphora could

be divided into three distinct sizes with capacities ranging from 9-14 liters, 12-15 liters, and

17-19 liters, respectively. Another subtype is represented by 22 small piriform amphora,

and the remaining 27 amphora represent another 6 subtypes. There is a high percentage of

incised markings on all the amphorae of this wreck, and some vessels have up to six

different marks. This is interpreted as reuse (van Doomick 1989:256). Other evidence for

reuse is rim damage from removing the stopper. This ship was headed back to Greece

from Syria. van Doominck (1989:256) surmises that the amphora were being recycled and

attributes this to a probable decrease in the availability of new amphora as popularity of

wooden transport containers increased. It appears that skins were the preferred transport

container in Fatimid maritime commercial activity.

Medieval Amphoras in Spain

The amphora tradition in the eastern Mediterranean survived into the 13th-century in

the Byzantine empire, but the sequence is not as clear in the west. Lister and Lister

(1987:25) suggest that the Roman amphora tradition was continued for local use in rural

areas during the Visigothic times and also for export during the Islamic period, even though

"... neither local factories nor foreign deposits of discarded Spanish Muslim amphorae are

known, as they are in the Roman horizon" (Lister and Lister 1987:25; cf. Bazzana and

Montmessin 1985:31). Unger (1980:52) writes "In general, Arab policy was to leave the

indigenous political and economic arrangements intact." If this applies to choice of

transport containers as well, then it is likely that the Roman amphora tradition may have

been allowed to continue in Islamic Spain even though the Islamic pattern of maritime

transport does not appear to include the manufacture of pottery transport containers.

Amphora production was not identified in a study of an early Islamic (800-1100 A.D.)

pottery production site at Al-Basra, Morocco (Benco 1987), or at a late 13th through mid

15th Islamic pottery production site at Qsar es-Seghir on the Moroccan coast (Meyers

1984). Meyers (1984:198) states that ceramic containers were not used in maritime

transport in Islamic North Africa: "The preferred containers were, in declining order of

popularity, leather bottles, cloth sacks, and glass containers protected by basketry (Goiten

1967:109)". Goiten's (1967) observations are the result of documentary investigations on

what are referred to as the Geniza documents paper scraps (commercial notes, letters,

contracts) which accumulated in a trash heap from the 10th through 13th-century in a

synagogue in Cairo (Meyers 1984:177-178).

The medieval Spanish amphora forms which are illustrated in medieval Islamic

contexts and 15th-century Christian contexts by Lister and Lister (1987:26,100) are

virtually the same, and both bear strong resemblance to the Type A olive jar of the 16th-

century (Figure 8). The documents indicate that olive oil was again being produced for

export in the Sevilla region by the 1 lth-century and it is hypothesized that pottery

containers were used as transport vessels (Lister and Lister 1987:38,56). A late 13th -

early 14th-century elongate amphora from Spain recovered in Great Britain is similar to the

16th-century Type A olive jar in body, but is distinguished by its two shoulder handles and

longer neck, both of which bear some resemblance to the piriform 1 Ith-century Byzantine

amphora. Early 15th-century amphoras recovered from architectural contexts on the Island

of Mallorca have two general shapes elongate and roughly spherical (Gonzales Gonzalo

1987). The stamps, painted markings, and inscriptions indicate a Catalan origin and

probably represent the strong Catalonian commercial presence in the Mediterranean during

the later middle ages. These Catalan amphoras are flat bottomed, thin-rimmed, and appear

to have been thrown upright. They are distinct from the "piriform" amphoras which were

thrown upside down, with rilling all the way to the center of the base. These Catalan

amphoras do, however, resemble some of the elongate Late Style olive jars illustrated in

Christian Spain


. .- '

oi ." *

Muslim Spain

Spanish exports,
recovered in
Great Britain

(compiled from Lister and Lister 1987:26,79,100)

FIGURE 8. Medieval amphoras and cantimploras from the Iberian Peninsula.



S -.

>i ,v

Goggin (1964). It is possible that these elongate Late Style olive jars might represent

Catalonian wine allowed to be traded to the Americas during the 18th-century.

In sum, the evidence for amphora production during the medieval period in Spain is

sketchy as best. Late medieval period sites in northern Europe have yielded both finewares

and coarse earthenwares from Spain (e.g. Platt and Coleman-Smith 1975:28-29,171-179;

Hurst 1981; Hurst and Neal 1982; Hurst et al. 1986). Liquid containers referred to as

costrels (the same as cantimplora or Early Style olive jar) appear to outnumber amphoras.

It is possible that the costrels are themselves a commodity rather than a container. Three

types of costrel are described standing, globular hanging, barrel hanging (Beckman

1974). The costrel appears to be a general western European form. The globular costrel is

most similar to the Early Style olive jar and at least two different manufacturing techniques

have been described for these costrels. One technique is similar to the two-part body

construction suggested by Goggin for the Early Style olive jar (Pryor and Blockly

1978:49), but another suggests a one piece construction of the body. In this second

technique, the body of the hanging globular costrel is formed by throwing a roughly

spherical closed form and placing this form on its side so that the bottom of the thrown

body becomes one of the sides (Freke 1979:101). The body of another non-Spanish

postmedieval form the flask was thrown in the same manner as for the globular hanging

costrel (Mynard 1969:36-37).

Even though the direct archaeological connection between the Roman amphora and

the Spanish olive jar has not been identified in the ground, such a connection is undeniable.

A major unanswered question is why pottery maritime transport containers, which

appeared to have been displaced by wooden barrels during the "container revolution" of the

early medieval period, would again be used in great quantities for maritime transport

toward the end of the Middle Ages. A general shortage of timber in the Mediterranean and

particularly in Spain is commonly offered as explanation, (e.g. Fairbanks 1972), but even

Fairbanks (1972:143) states "I have no good explanation for the Spanish cultural bent for

shipping and storing a wide variety of materials in these small mouthed jars". The choice

of container may reflect a trade-off between cost efficiency in bulk transport and

maintaining the quality of the product. An olive jar might have a longer "shelf life", but a

barrel of wine is less expensive to transport. Barrels appear to have been a valued

commodity When Drake was raiding Cidiz in 1589 he took barrels of wine, and upon

finding no wine to loot in Portugal, he took barrel staves (Francis 1972:45). Regarding

function, the post-medieval olive jar pattern appears to mirror the Roman pattern. As with

the Roman amphoras, a laundry list of commodities were shipped in olive jars but the

primary contents were wine and olive oil. Olive jar shapes were also associated with

contents elongate for wine, globular for olive oil.

Pottery was the material of choice for the packaging of wine, olive oil, and a

number of lesser exports transported on the Mediterranean Sea from the 2nd millennium

B.C. to the 6th-century A.D. During the period of most intense commercial activity it was

not unusual for a merchant ship to be carrying upwards of 1,000 amphoras, and sometimes

more. Wooden barrels were more cost efficient and generally replaced pottery containers

after the 7th-century A.D. It is possible that this shift in container choice also reflected a

shift in wine consumption, from high quality (aged) wine consumption by the elites to the

lesser quality, but more large-scale wine consumption by commoners. The use of pottery

maritime transport containers is associated with the increased maritime commercial activity

of the Iberian peninsula during the 15th -18th-centuries. In fact, during the early phase of

transatlantic commercial activity, empty olive jars were often shipped with large barrels of

wine. Further documentary work is needed to determine more precisely the container

pattern for Spanish colonial shipping, and this is considered in the next chapter.

The general association of form with contents is remarkably similar throughout the

amphora tradition, and other external markings (i.e., stamps; painted and incised marks)

are also common, but vary through time. It appears that the amphora as a package not only

contained and transported the specific commodity, but also informed the merchant or

consumer of the origin, identity, and in some instances quality of the commodity. In all,

the attributes required for consumer choice could be viewed by the potential wine buyer -

origin, date of vintage. Did the same pattern hold for olive jars? How large a role did
"consumer choice" play in the olive jar packaging of wine, olive oil, and other commodities

shipped to the colonies?

Regarding production, how similar is the Roman model of amphora production in

Baetica to the Castillian model of olive jar production in the lower Guadalquivir River

Valley? In the former, an imperialist entity Rome promoted the production of an

export commodity (olive oil,wine) which could be consumed in Rome and elsewhere in the

Roman empire (e.g. Britain). In the latter, an imperialist entity the Hapsburg Empire -

promoted the production of export commodities (wine and olive oil) which could be used to

provision the transatlantic fleets and to provision the colonies in the Americas. The

working hypothesis which will be presented in the next chapter is that both situations

represent a situation similar to "banana" production in the so-called "Banana Republics" of

the late nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Bananas or melons, grapefruit, etc. do

not need pottery containers for their transport, but if they did, there would most probably

be a specialized group of producers organized to fit the needs of "banana" transport. This

would not be pottery for domestic or household use, and therefore the organizational

strategy for production would be geared for the needs of the "banana plantation" and not

the needs of the household. Amphora were used for the long distance transport of export

commodities and as such, the organization of amphora production is related more to

external demand than local consumption. The working hypothesis is that the same holds

for olive jar production. Bonnie McEwan's (1989) work on domestic assemblages in 16th-

century Sevilla clearly demonstrates that olive jars were not part of a household

assemblage, unless they were part of the house. Roman influence has been demonstrated


in the organization of Spanish colonies (e.g. city planning) (Crouch 1991), and therefore it

appears that Roman models of amphora productions might also be suitable for

understanding olive jar production.

To summarize, amphora studies have demonstrated that a multidisciplinary

approach integrating archaeological, documentary, and technological methods has allowed

researchers to address questions beyond chronology. It is concluded that such an approach

is indeed appropriate for understanding Spanish olive jar production in the 16-18th-

centuries, and the strategy for implementing a multidisciplinary approach will be discussed

in the next chapter.



The Spanish Olive Jar Terminology

Archaeologists use a variety of terms to refer to olive jars (Figure 9). The first

column shows labels used by archaeologists and the second presents a sample of olive jar

terms found in Spanish shipping records. Goggin writes that it was William Henry

Holmes who was the first to use the term "olive jar" in print; this was a 1903 Bureau of

American Ethnology publication entitled "Aboriginal Pottery of Eastern North America."

In this publication, Holmes (1903:129-130) writes only two pages about olive jars and

does not explain the origin of the term other than to say that olives were carried in the jars.

Studies of Spanish shipping documents have revealed that olives were indeed transported

in olive jars, and they were also used to carry wine, olive oil, vinegar, water, honey,

beans, chick peas, capers, almonds, dates, pitch, and gun powder. Goggin recognized that

olive jars carried more than just olives, and when he chose the term "olive jar" he

emphasized that the term should be considered a type name, and not a functional or

ethnographic label.

In summary, it appears almost impossible to discover any Spanish term that
will adequately and precisely refer to the type of vessel under consideration
and to no other. For this reason it seems best to use the term olive jar as the
equivalent to a "type name" with no local ethnographic or linguistic
significance. This can be translated into jarra de aceite when needed.
(Goggin 1964:255)

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