|Testaccio: a Mount of used Amphorae|
Mount Testaccio is an artificial hill of a slightly triangular base, settled on the banks of the river Tiber, in the south-eastern area of Rome. Mount Testaccio is nearly 50m high and has a perimeter of 1490m, which makes a total area of 22000m2.
Mount Testaccio is a small hill, though in Roman times it was considered the largest of the seven artificial hills of Rome (the others were: August, Cenci, Citorio, Giordano, Savelli and Secco).
The present name comes from the Latin word testa which means pottery sherd: the popular name Mount dei Cocci comes from here. Mount Testaccio owes its name to the unloading of olive-oil amphoras carried there.
Air photograph of the Mount Testaccio.
Most containers came from the Baetican province, modern Andalusia, in southern Spain; the rest came from the North of Africa (chiefly from modern Tunis and Libya). Political union of the whole Mediterranean fostered the development of exchange circuits. Traffic of commodities and people increased due to private initiatives and public needs, making easy technological development in infrastructures and transports.
|The technological progress
is evident in navigation, the unrivalled mean of
transport in antiquity because of its lower cost in long
distance trade of bulky cargoes. Numerous shipwrecks
discovered along the trade routes between Rome and its
provinces have made possible to know the ship technical
features and the cargoes composition.
Navigation, essentially coastal navigation, took place from April to September. Tonnage and carrying capacity varied according to the kind of ship.
Dressel 20 amphorae from Cabrera III shipwreck.
|Cargo ship carrying Dresel 20 amphorae.|
Puteoli (Puzzuoli) was the first port of Rome, but it was soon substituted by new ports built by Claudius and Trajan at the mouth of the river Tiber. These new ports became the most important market for exchange of commodities and travellers.
Claudius and Trajan ports at the mouth of tevere.
Unloading of amphorae (mosaic from Piazzale della Corporazione di Ostia Antica, Statio nš23.
Warehouses located in the river port of Rome, on the skirt of Mount Aventin, were the final stage of many products, amphoras among them.
That is the way the Mount Testaccio was shaped, as a huge dumping place made of refused amphoras. It supplies an enormous amount of information about the economic history of the Roman Empire
Renmants of a ancient river dock of Rome in the "Marmorata".