Trading Settlements and the Materiality of Wine Consumption

Riva, Corinna. 2010 “Trading Settlements and the Materiality of Wine Consumption in the North Tyrrhenian Sea Region” In Material Connections in the Ancient Mediterranean: Mobility, Materiality, and Mediterranean Identities, edited by Peter Dommelen, René van Alexander, and Arthur Bernard Knapp, 1-28. London: Routledge Publishing.

Presented by Ross Adler


Vasiliki Barakos;
Loren Berry;
Clareese Chin;
Morgan Fitzgerald

10 thoughts on “Trading Settlements and the Materiality of Wine Consumption

  1. How did the wine trade demonstrate enable the economic growth of southern cities. In other words, how did wine influence the rise and fall of Etruria.

  2. On the one hand, wine influenced the rise of Etruria by becoming an extremely popular trade good. Riva mentions that the rise in amphora production in Etruria coincided with the French demand for wine, linking their wine trade to the large-scale development of wine production in Etruria (9). The production of a popular commodity let Etruria rise in the ranks and the development of various, new emporia attest to the importance of trading with the Etruscans. The wine trade also brought with it the opportunity to trade other associated commodities such as bucchero kantharoi and amphorae, awakening an increase in pottery production as well. Basically, wine boosted the Etruscan economy in many ways and attributed to the formation of foreign relations. Riva mentions the direct interaction between Etruscans and the inhabitants of southern France as a result of the wine trade, mentioning designated meeting spots where wine drinking played a large role in negotiations (14). Riva’s article seemed to be focused on wine production and its effects on trade, emporia, and the establishment of cultural boundaries so I am not entirely sure how the wine trade would have contributed to the “fall of Etruria,” although I could have missed a key point in the argument .The only instance I could think of in regards to this commodity contributing to an economic decline in Etruria is if the wine trade dissipated, however, I can’t recall Riva explaining anything along those lines within his argument.

    • Riva’s point here is incredibly obtuse. Where does she see a shift in the way that items such as wine cups were employed to create social bonds over time?

      • So as I understand it, Riva argues that wine-drinking became less of an aristocratic action and was popularized across the social classes; therefore, the demand for drinking vessels grew and personification dropped. She then relates this with the shift from aristocratic gift-giving as the main means of trading wine and vessels to emporia production and trade. Riva mentions that the trading of wine cups that were inscribed with either the name of the owner/giver of the cup or the recipient gave them a biographical quality and that it was “a mechanism to distribute individuals’ identities across the social network” (10). She then goes on to say that as the wine trade grew, this personification of the object stopped. Riva then goes on to briefly mention the interaction between foreign parties in which they would meet and engage in wine-drinking rituals as a facet of the trading experience. Is she trying to say that these interactions replaced the personification of drinking vessels? I’m not sure if this is right, this area of the argument was confusing to me.

        • I think the point she is trying to make is that trade and exchange caused luxury goods to become more readily available. No longer were goods simply exchanged among elites, the emporia allowed for wider distribution of elite goods. The decline of personification of objects can be attributed to items being produced for the purpose of trade rather than elite gift giving

          • With that in mind Rob I am wondering woulnd’t these one time elite goods suffer in quality as they became more widely obtained? So rather than as you say they “the emporia allowed for wider distribution of elite goods” would it really be that this elite good became a common household item? Therefore losing its sense of prestige in addition to likely being made with less precious and expensive goods.

    • Just in addition to the last point on this lack of sense of a “fall of Etruria” the ability of Etruria even with this decline in wine trade to still have a market for these wine affiliated and styled potted pieces should prove a strong market. This demand was not necessarily rooted for the same purpose (in partaking in wine) but rather the same style that could be transefered to other ceramic vessels and even wall or other art.

  3. The desire for wine contributed to the rise of Etruria in its key role as a flourishing trade between the Etruscans, Greeks, and other inhabitants surrounding the Tyrhennian Sea. Riva points to the presence of amphorae in Iron Age sites in Southern France including Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon as evidence of this. With wine being sought after as a commodity, trade not only for the wine itself increased, but demand for items used in the Symposium ceremony, including various kinds pottery, also increased.This increased demand for Etruscan goods let wealth flow into Etruria, aiding in their rate of development and further increasing their ability to trade with others for luxury goods. Other nations demand for wine, in essence, increased Etruria’s power and this good held a strong influence over their relation to other foreign powers.
    However, as Clareese commented, I see no point at which Riva’s article addresses the way(s) in which wine led to, or even influenced, the “fall of Etruria” as it were. I would imagine that if the demand for the trade declined around the time of Etruria as we think of it “fell” there would have to be some correlation between the two happenings.

  4. The chronology here is interesting. Much of Riva’s discussion hinges on the 5th century BC, a period when Etruria is supposed to be in crisis. What evidence does she adduce to argue against a 5th century crisis?

  5. Riva argues for a continued strength in Etruria economy going against the belief of a crisis in the 5th century due to the constant commerce between east Greek artisans and those in south Etruria specifically. This commerce originally was mostly related to wine wares and such so this supposed crisis would be thought to ruin said artisans sales but a shift in water vessels and Pontic vases as seen at Vulci kept sales going.

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