For over 300 years, Roman Xanten was supplied with precious goods from the Mediterranean region by a continuous stream of trade. Everything was packed in amphorae. These findings are now being analysed in a Spanish-German research project.
The Spanish amphorae specialists led by Prof. Remesal Rodrìguez (far left).
Their field of research is particularly informative, for amphorae can often be dated without difficulty and have various inscriptions revealing their origin, route and former content. When all these particulars are put together, the seemingly unobtrusive fragments simultaneously shed light on typical Roman eating and drinking customs, as well as on economic relations with other provinces.
In this way, it is now known that wine was preferably imported from Italy in the early first century AD, until more was imported from Gaul and later, from the second century onwards, also from the Middle Rhine area. Fish goods and olive oil also initially came to the Lower Rhine from what is now Andalusia. They too were later increasingly supplemented by Gallic imports, but never disappeared from the market in Xanten.