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An Island Economy

Hellenistic and Roman Pottery from Hierapytna, Crete


Scott Gallimore

This book offers the first presentation of Hellenistic and Roman period ceramic assemblages from the city of Hierapytna, located on the southeast coast of Crete. Recovered from three rescue excavations in the heart of the ancient city, this pottery records a diachronic history of Hierapytna from the third century B.C. to the seventh century A.D. Through meticulous analysis of these assemblages, including a detailed catalogue of all of the major ceramic categories encountered on Greco-Roman sites and an exhaustive economic synthesis that places Hierapytna in regional and international contexts, Scott Gallimore documents the growth and decline of this ancient city. An evolving role in numerous exchange networks enabled Hierapytna to grow from a promising Hellenistic center into a major Roman metropolis before it succumbed to pressures that led to a steady decline throughout the Late Roman period. An Island Economy outlines the historical trajectory of an eastern polis and demonstrates that its rise and fall are connected to pan-Mediterranean exchange networks, a subject that will be of great interest to archaeologists, ceramicists, economic historians, and students of the Greco-Roman world.
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Chapter Ten: Hierapytna in the Early Roman Period


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Hierapytna in the Early Roman Period

Hierapytna reached the apex of its prosperity during the period from the first through third century A.D. The city’s ceramic record attests numerous economic connections and archaeological evidence points to an expansion of the harbor and the site in general. This was in spite of Hierapytna’s role in the resistance against Rome’s invasion of the island from 69–67 B.C. Dio Cassius (36.18) records that the city may have been the site of several different battles. Following the loss of Chania (ancient Kydonia), the Cretan general Aristion retreated to Hierapytna, but was resisted there by a certain Lucius Bassus, a Roman seemingly in control of the city. Aristion was soon joined by Octavius, the legate of Pompey who had been dispatched to oppose Metellus so that the Cretans could surrender to Pompey. Hierapytna served as an effective stronghold for a short period, but the approach of Metellus with the main component of his army caused the commanders to abandon the town. Soon after sailing out of the city, a storm arose, causing the ships to be driven ashore. Dio goes on to report that Metellus conquered the entire island soon after this and one could presume that this involved some sort of siege, or at least punishment, of Hierapytna for its role in opposing his forces. The Yiomelaki Plot produced several destruction deposits, including roof collapses and burned patches, datable to the mid-first...

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