The City of Late Hellenistic Delos and the Integration of Economic Activities in the Domestic Sphere
|October 25, 2013||Posted by Mantha Zarmakoupi under Art/Archaeology, E-journal, Research Symposium|
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Zarmakoupi, Mantha. “The City of Late Hellenistic Delos and the Integration of Economic Activities in the Domestic Sphere.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 2 (2013). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:ZarmakoupiM.The_City_of_Late_Hellenistic_Delos.2013
§1 Delos, home of the sanctuary of Apollo since the archaic period, underwent a period of rapid economic development after 167 BCE, when the Romans put the island under Athenian dominion and turned it into a commercial base connecting the eastern and western Mediterranean. Due to its advantageous geographical position in the center of the Cyclades, Delos attracted traders from Greece, Macedonia, and the Hellenistic East as well as dealers from Rome. Between 167 BCE and the sacks of 88 and 69 BCE by the troops of Mithridates and the pirate Athenadoros, the island became an intermediary in Rome’s commercial relations with the Hellenistic East. The accelerated urbanization, attested by the formation of new neighborhoods, as well as the redevelopment of existing urban and harbor areas of the island through the construction of jetties, docksides, warehouses, and markets, were the result of this economic development and the unprecedented demographic growth and cultural diversity that it generated.
§2 My paper focuses on the residential neighborhoods that were developed in this period and analyzes the architecture of the houses to address the integration of commercial and manufacturing facilities into the domestic sphere. By analyzing the architectural design of the houses and examining the spaces that were gradually created in order to accommodate manufacturing and commercial activities as well as storage spaces, my goal is to contextualize the development of domestic architecture on Delos in the context of the broader economic changes that the island underwent in this period.
The Delian emporion
§3 The prosperity of the Delian commerce began with the decision of the Roman Senate to make it a “duty free” port in 167 BCE under Athenian dominion. The senate guaranteed duty-free status to the port of Delos (through a grant of ἀτέλεια) prohibiting the Athenians from levying import and export duties on any of the trade passing through the harbor. The growing commercial importance of the island of Delos was not only a consequence of the grant of ἀτέλεια in 167 BCE, but also of other equally important developments such as the Roman destruction of Carthage and Corinth, the rapid collapse of the Seleucid empire in the latter half of the century and the creation of the Roman province of Asia in 129 BCE.
§4 According to the literary sources, slaves and luxury goods—such as perfumes and glass—all originating in the Middle and Far East, as well as the highly prized Delian bronze statues were traded through Delos. Strabo described Delos as the location of a trans-Mediterranean slave trade to the agricultural estates, mines, shops and households of the Roman West (Strabo 14.5.2). However, no physical remains have ever been identified on the island to confirm the importance of the slave trade. Archaeological evidence points to the existence of the production of perfume, purple dye, glass jewelry, marble and bronze sculptures, and terracotta figurines on Delos.
§5 Although the literary sources stress the importance of the Delian emporion, the archaeological record has not provided evidence for the infrastructure, such as a large number of large-scale storerooms, that one might expect to serve a major commercial center. A few large-scale buildings that were used as warehouses and as places of transaction are located to the south of the main port. This has led to convoluted discussions on the archaeological evidence, the most well-known one being the controversy over the so-called Agora of the Italians and its alleged use as a slave market.
§6 The question is: have we been looking to find answers in the wrong place? Earlier studies on the economy of Delos have focused on the public spaces but I will argue that part of the answer lies in a place that nobody has looked until now: the private spaces. Instead of looking for large-scale facilities, the answer may be found in the small-scale commercial, manufacturing and storage facilities that were gradually created within the urban fabric of the city, and in particular in the private sphere. Similarly then, instead of a large-scale slave market the recent study of Jean-Charles Moretti, Myriam Fincker and Véronique Chankowski has shown that the place where slaves, together with other commodities, were sold was next to the port near the Agora of Theophrastos, which is now submerged in the sea. Merchandise was placed in the center of a circular structure, a kyklos, and interested individuals could place a bid. The slaves could have been brought ashore in small groups, sold in the kyklos or another similar structure, and then put back on board the ship.
§7 The activity of the trading center should not be estimated on the basis of the scale of the physical infrastructure on the island itself. As Duchêne has pointed out, London is the most important oil-trading hub but we never see oil tankers on the Thames. Delos was an entrepôt, so presumably most goods were not unloaded and just the buying and selling took place on land, as was the case in pre-modern Hong Kong. We should not be surprised that there were not enough large scale warehouses on Delos, but rather examine the ways in which the city accommodated the small-scale economic activities as well as the large number of businesspeople that were coming through. This has been the research agenda of my study of the Delian houses, and this article presents part of my results. By analyzing the gradual incorporation of commercial, manufacturing and storage facilities in the houses of late Hellenistic Delos, my goal is to point to an early example of an urban economy where shops and workshops within domestic settings formed part of the larger commercial cityscape and complemented the public commercial infrastructures.
The study of the Delian houses
§8 The study of the Delian houses conducted during the past century provided some important conclusions, but it also showed the limitations of the employed typological analyses. The monumental work of Joseph Chamonard—published in the 1920s— conceptualized the Delian houses as well as the wider Hellenistic house tradition within which they operate. Primarily based on the houses of the Theater District (Quartier du Théâtre)—one of the old neighborhoods—, Chamonard singled out the importance of reception and representation rooms. He observed that the common arrangement was to have a large luxurious room with direct access from the peristyle—which he called oecus maior—that then provided access to one or two smaller rooms—the oeci minores. Although this arrangement can be noticed in the majority of the Delian houses, particularly the large houses, not all houses fit into this scheme—especially those in the newly built districts, where we notice a departure from the importance given to large reception rooms. Despite the new insights provided by the studies of Trümper, Tang and Nevett, who addressed modest housing units, stressed the importance of public and private realm within the domestic sphere, analyzed the visual strategies employed in the spatial arrangements of the house and examined the cultural influences on the architecture of the houses, the architectural development of the houses has not been fully examined in relation to the economic changes that Delos underwent in this period.
§9 I would like to note at this point that the study of Delian houses has been defined by the nature of the archaeological record. Excavated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and as in all early excavations, the stratigraphy of the Delian houses was not recorded and the objects were separated from their respective contexts. Exceptions are the houses of the North District (Quartier Nord or Quartier de Skardhana), which were excavated in the nineteen-sixties and seventies and provide an invaluable record for the use of domestic space in Hellenistic Delos. However, the archaeological record of the majority of these houses was published in 2001, and has not been fully considered in comprehensive treatments of Delian domestic architecture.
§10 By examining the well-preserved and well-documented houses of the North District and drawing comparisons with the houses of the other neighborhoods, I aim to associate the architectural development of the houses with the dynamic nature of the economy of late Hellenistic Delos. My identification of commercial, manufacturing and storages spaces in the houses is based on the information provided by the excavation notebooks of the houses, as well as an architectural analysis that enables me to single out certain choices and define an architectural typology that can be associated with commercial, manufacturing and storages activities in a domestic setting.
Commercial, manufacturing, and storage facilities in the domestic sphere
§11 The most famous case for the integration of commercial, manufacturing and storage facilities in the domestic sphere is the House of the Seals (Maison des Sceaux, GD 59 D) in the North District (fig. 1), which was destroyed by a fire in 69 BCE and therefore its archaeological remains have been well preserved. This house was originally organized according to the traditional scheme of oecus maior and oecus minor, and was remodeled in a subsequent phase. In the final phase of the house, the east side was reorganized and extended in order to accommodate a shop and a workshop for the production of grain, wine, and perhaps olive oil. This part of the house was at this phase almost independently accessible from the main entrance of the house. At the same time, the western part of the house was enlarged: the traditional oecus maior room (μ) was connected to the room (ι΄) of the adjacent house (House of the Sword [Maison de l’Epée], GD 59 E)—it may have also occupied the public space because the original extend of House of the Sword is not clear, as this area is not fully excavated. In this new organization, a group of rooms—rooms (μ), (ξ) and (ι΄)—was formed that was accessible from the court through pastas (θ). This group of rooms could have been rented out in order to run a business individually. The large number of ceramic sherds and twenty amphorae that were found in room (λ), to the east of pastas (θ), and the furniture placed along the east wall of room (κ) suggest that these two rooms were used for storage. This storage could have served the activities that took place in the group of adjoining rooms (μ-ξ-ι΄), the shop and workshop in the eastern part of the house (π-ρ-σ-τ-υ) or the residents of the upper floor of the house. The presence of a personal archive of 16,000 seals, which gave the house its name (128/7 BCE – 69 BCE), a large number of which bears names of well-known Italian families of Delos, and the larger than life “verist” busts (Inv. No. A7258, A7259), which also came from the upper floor, suggest that the owners were Italian bankers and merchants. The upper floor of the house was lavishly decorated with mosaics, wall paintings, and bronze decorative objects and furniture revetments.
§12 The archaeological identification of a shop and workshop in the case of the House of the Seals indicates the type of information we lack in other houses of Delos. It is important to note that the house was originally designed with the organization of oecus maior and oecus minor, following the typological scheme I explained earlier, and was then modified and extended to host the shop and workshop, the group of rooms that operated independently as well as the storage spaces. At the same time the upper floor served as the luxurious house of the Italian bankers and merchants.
§13 Similar changes to the original organization of the scheme of oecus maior and oecus minor are noted in House ID in the Stadion District (Quartier du Stade) (figs. 2-3). The ground floor of the house featured two adjacent oeci maiores, which were divided into several smaller rooms in a second phase. In the new arrangement, two groups of rooms were formed that were accessible from the courtyard. We notice that in both houses changes conducted in subsequent phases created groups of rooms that could function independently. Similarly to the House of the Seals, in the case of House ID as well these groups of rooms could have accommodated commercial, manufacturing, and storage facilities, and possibly guest rooms that could have been rented out. The upper floor of House ID, which was accessible through a staircase in room (c), accommodated the more luxurious rooms of the house at this time. Its south and northeast parts were decorated with colored wall paintings and a herm of a Satyr came from its northeast part.
§14 A variation to the design decision noted in the House of the Seals and the House ID was to keep the original organization of oecus maior and oecus minor, and extend the house in order to add a group of rooms. The House H in Insula VI of the Theater District provides such an example (fig. 4). The original organization of oecus maior and oecus minor was kept at the north of the courtyard, and the southwest part of the house (rooms r and s) took over an area of the adjacent house (House of Dionysos [Maison du Dionysos], GD 120) to form a separate group of four rooms (p-q-r-s) that were accessible by a single entrance (room n). In the cases of the House of the Tritons (Maison des Tritons) and the House of the Actors (Maison des Comédiens, GD 59 B) in the North District (fig. 5), small rooms were subsequently added outside the original plan of the houses, taking over part of the street, in order to create spaces for service, storage as well as workshops (D and E to House of the Actors; AI-AI΄-AJ-AK-AK΄-AL-AM-AN to House of the Tritons). Another example is noted in the Stadion District, where the spaces of House η-θ-θ’ were enlarged and, consequently impinged on part of the street, in order to house two shops. Such extensions to the original design of the houses are easier to notice in the newly formed neighborhoods, the North and Stadion Districts, where contrary to the older neighborhoods predefined blocs were used to build the houses.
§15 In order to accommodate the growing need for commercial, manufacturing and storage facilities, another option was to preserve the internal organization of the houses and simply employ some of the spaces of the house for workshop and storage uses. For example, House III O in the Theater District retained its spatial organization and was transformed into an oil workshop; similarly, House VI B in the Theater District retained its spatial organization and was transformed into a workshop of a coroplast (fragments of statuettes, lumps of clay and color were found in room g); a marble workshop was installed in rooms 8 and 10 of the House of Kerdon (Maison de Kerdon, GD 83); and the House IB in the Stadion District was transformed into a perfume workshop. In these cases, the owners used the available space to accommodate their needs and there was no architectural reorganization. One can notice a tendency to use the space around the courtyard for the workshops and their associated storage. This is also the case in Athens, Olynthus, Pompeii (Casa dello Scultore, VIII.7.24), and Halieis.
Between domestic and port economy
§16 As these examples show, the architecture of the Hellenistic houses on Delos cannot be understood solely by the typological scheme of oecus maior and oecus minor, the analysis of public versus private space in the domestic sphere, or the distinction between modest and luxurious houses. My observations highlight the fact that parts of the house serve commercial and manufacturing activities, and that parts of the house are reserved for storage—either domestic or commercial. This analysis is consistent with recent studies of the economy of the Greek house and city—for example in Halieis, Athens and Olynthos—, which have pointed out that no uniform rules can be deduced for the provision of commercial and storage facilities within domestic contexts. Each case is different and it seems that the available space was shaped in order to serve the individual needs of the owners.
§17 In the case of Delos, it seems that there were two solutions. The first one was to keep the original architectural organization of the houses on the ground floor, and use part or all of the available spaces for commercial, manufacturing, and storage uses: it is the case of House IB in the Stadion District, House I in the Insula of the Bronzes (Insula des Bronzes), and House VI B in the Theater District. The second solution was to modify the original organization of the ground floor of the houses in order to accommodate shops, workshops, and storage spaces, and create luxurious rooms on the upper floor. In this case, the larger rooms of the ground floor, the typical oeci maiores and oeci minores were broken down to form smaller rooms, and sometimes extra small rooms were subsequently added to the houses, which sometimes occupied parts of the street (e.g. the House of the Tritons, House of the Actors in the North District). In the second case, we notice that remote, not-well lit and/or ventilated areas of the houses were grouped probably in order to serve for such functions (e.g. House IC in the Stadion District). By transforming the original organization of the houses, owners aimed to create new spatial arrangements that could operate as storage or workshop rooms—and could have also been rented out—in order to generate profit through the dynamic economy of the island in this period.
§18 It is possible that some of the storage spaces within the houses did not only serve the needs of the household, but also complemented the storage needs of the commerce of Delos. The recent study of the shops in the Theater District by Pavlos Karvonis and Jean-Jacques Malmary has shown how the interior shapes of the shops that were located in close proximity to the port were in subsequent phases furnished with shelves and mezzanines in order to accommodate the need for more storage. The houses presented here were also in close proximity to the nearest port areas. Similarly then, the changes in the spatial arrangements that I have discussed could have been conducted in order to complement the needs for more storage of the burgeoning Delian commerce.
§19 We should not, however, over-interpret the scale of the economic activities and storage spaces in the domestic sphere. The fact that individuals found a financial interest in integrating economic activities and store their products in their oikos is—of course—a secondary consequence of the operation of the trading center of Delos, and not an instrumental part of it. It is in fact the operation of the port, its markets and its warehouses nearby that enabled individuals to develop and host economic activities in the domestic sphere. The shops and workshops that were integrated in the Delian houses provide evidence for a small-scale economy that operated alongside the trading center of Delos and grew because of its operation.
§20 The case of the House of the Seals provides a concrete example for the integration of commercial activities within the domestic sphere, to which the House of the Tritons and the House of the Actors provide further parallels. The typological similarity of Houses IC and ID in the Stadion District to the houses of the North District suggests, that in the case of the houses of the Stadion District as well owners created new spatial arrangements in order to make profit in the dynamic economic microclimate of late Hellenistic Delos.
§21 In conclusion, the urban and economic expansion that Delos underwent in this period was unpredictable for the inhabitants of Delos. Even the new neighborhoods were not sufficient to accommodate the growing population and small-scale economic activities on the island that grew because of the operation of the trading center. The North District was built around 130 BCE and the Stadion District towards the end of the first century BCE, and—contrary to the older neighborhoods—they were planned in advance—as the orthogonal grid and canonical allotment of the insulae indicates. The sack of the island by Athenadoros in 69 BCE provides a final date for the use of both neighborhoods. This is attested by the fire of the House of the Seals, the destruction and abandonment evident in the surrounding houses, as well as the scarce ceramic and coin finds after this date for the North District, and by the exclusion of the Stadion District from the fortification of Triarius, built at this time in order to protect the city from Athenadoros. The numerous changes in the organization of the interiors of the houses, conducted within the course of 60 years in the case of the North District and 40 years in the case of the Stadion District, show the constant effort to make the best of the available spaces near the port. These changes were implemented reactively in order to fit the needs of the inhabitants and their commercial activities, the scale of which was not foreseen.
§22 Nothing could indeed have predicted this enormous urban and economic expansion of Delos in this period—neither the fame of the sanctuary, nor the quality of the port, nor the commercial activity on the island during the period of Independence, nor the geographical position of Delos. Delos does not occupy a better or more central position in relation to the neighboring islands of the Cyclades. The decision of Rome to grant the island the status of a free port combined with the destruction of Corinth, a powerful rival, in 146 BCE, as well as the intensification of the relation of Rome and Pergamon for which Delos played an intermediary role, led to the commercial and urban development of Delos.
§23 The Delian commerce remains to be understood in its entirety but the re-examination of the archaeological evidence provides a different picture than previously envisaged. Delos was a trading point and as such did not have large-scale infrastructure for its economic activities. The transformation of the internal organization of the Delian houses in order to host commercial, manufacturing and storage facilities that I discussed in this paper complements the evidence for economic activities taking place on Delos and together with other studies on the markets, shops as well as coins of late Hellenistic Delos—currently underway—will contribute to our understanding of the Delian commerce.
§24 The case of Delos provides an early example for the systematic creation of shops and workshops within a domestic setting that formed part of the commercial cityscape. While fourth century BCE Olynthos portrays the integrated self-sufficient economy of the household in the Classical period and first century CE Pompeii and Herculaneum represent the diversity of the specialized economy of the Roman city, Delos provides a step in between. Recent studies have suggested that the architecture of commercial buildings on Delos corresponds to the developments taking place in Republican Italy. For example, shops and workshops were walled off from private houses, and their upper floor was accessible through a separate entrance from the street and could be let separately. My analysis shows that analogous developments can be noted in private architecture. The layout of the ground floor of the houses was altered and groups of rooms were created to accommodate shops and workshops that could be let separately. The development of Delian domestic architecture provides a parallel for the systematic creation of shops and workshops within domestic settings that we know so well from the well-studied examples of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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* I am grateful to Panagiotis Hatzidakis for granting permission to conduct my study on Delos. I would also like to thank the French School in Athens for facilitating my research on the site. I am indebted to Véronique Chankowski for inviting me to participate in her research project on storage facilities on Delos (funded by the Agence National de la Recherche [ANR]) and for her continuous support. I must also thank Jean-Charles Moretti, the director of the French excavations on Delos, for sharing his knowledge about the architecture of Delos. Finally, I am grateful to Bert Smith for inviting me to present an earlier version of this paper at the Classical Archaeology Seminar at Oxford in February 2013 as well as for his perceptive comments.
 On urban growth of the island during this period see: Bruneau 1968 and Papageorgiou-Venetas 1981. On the port and dockside structures see also: Duchêne and Fraisse 2001.The comprehensive study on the urban growth of the island by Papageorgiou-Venetas (1981) has been rightly criticized for misapplying modern urban planning principles and quantitative methods: Scranton 1982; Bruneau 1984; Kreeb 1984.
 For a summary of the events see McGing 2003:83–84. Strabo says that the merchants changed their place of business from Corinth to Delos following the destruction of the former in 146 BCE for two reasons: they were attracted first by τῆς ἀτελείας τοῦ ἱεροῦ and second by the good location of the harbor, “as it is on the sea-route from Italy and Greece to Asia” (Strabo 10.5.4). To quote Hatzfeld, “because Delos was a shrine, it had become an international town; because it was an international town, it became a place of commerce.” Hatzfeld 1919:34, 36.
 Strabo, Pliny, Pausanias and Lucilius. Pausanias (3.23.3–6) described Delos at this time as the trading station of all Greece. Pliny (Naturalis Historia34.9) reported that the mercatus in Delo was concelebrante toto orbe, more specifically after the development of the Roman shipping lane to Asia (so after 133 BCE). The contemporary poet Lucilius referred to the mighty port of Puteoli as “a lesser Delos” (Paulus, ex Festo 88.4: ‘Minorem Delum’ Puteolos esse dixerunt…unde Lucilius– inde Dicarchitum populos Delumque minorem [=Lucilius 118]). On the Delian bronzes: Pliny Naturalis Historia 34.9; Cicero Pro Sexto Roscio Amerino 133. Other luxury items: spices, unguents, incense, gems, statues, metals, dyes, tapestries, textiles and linens.
 Cocco (1970) and Coarelli (1982 and 2005) believe that the slave market may have been located in the Agora of the Italians. See extensive criticisms of this position in: Bruneau 1975, 1985 and 1987:331–339. Rauh (1992; 1993:81–83, 289–338) argued that it was an arena for sport events. For counter-arguments against Rauh’s position see: Boussac and Moretti 1995. Recent review of all the arguments in Mastino 2008 and Tümper 2009. Trümper (2008:3–9, 93–98, with review of previous scholarship; 2009:34–49) argues that the Agora of the Italians was not a slave market but rather a luxurious park-like building with a propylon, garden, double-storied porticoes, statue niches, and a lavish bath suite. For a comprehensive discussion of the evidence related to slaves on Delos see: Bruneau 1989.
 Purple-dye production: GD 79.1, GD 80.1 and at the bay of Fourni: Bruneau 1969, and 1978:110–114; Lytle 2007. Perfumeries: GD 79, GD 66, GD 50, GD 120, GD 118: Brun 1999 and 2000. (GD plus a number indicates the numbering of the monuments in the Guide de Délos [Bruneau and Ducat 2005]). Sculpture ateliers: shops 103 and 106 at southwest corner of the Agora of the Italians (GD 52). See Barr-Sharrar 1998. Bronzes: Bruneau 1976 (texts on Delian bronze); Siebert 1969:1042–1044; 1975:721; 1976:813–814 (House of the Seals [Maison des Sceaux], GD 59 D); 1973; 1979 (furniture appliqués). Glass production: shops to the west of the House of the Stuccoes (Maison des Stucs, GD 87), south of the Samothrakeion (GD 93) and in the area of the Aphrodision (GD 88): Nenna 1999; Durvye 2009. Fabrication of auloi: a boutique at the Granite Monument (Monument du granit, GD 54). Bélis 1998. Coroplastic workshops: shop at the south side of Agora of the Italians (GD 52), Theater District (Quartier du Théâtre), Insula VI, House B. Laumonier 1956. In general see: Brunet 1998; Karvonis 2008.
 Ardaillon 1896:439–444; Jardé 1905:16–40; Jardé 1906; Paris 1916:56–61; Duchêne and Fraisse 2001:95–118 (ch. 3, “Du port sacré à la pointe des pilasters,” and ch. 4, “Le littoral sud”). Pavlos Karvonis and Jean-Jacques Malmary prepare a publication of these buildings in the series Exploration Archéologique de Délos. Some preliminary results of their study is published in: Karvonis and Malmary 2009:218–226; eid. 2012.
 My study has been developed within the framework of the research project of Véronique Chankowski on storage facilities on Delos (funded by the Agence National de la Recherche [ANR]). See preliminary report on the results of this project in Chankowski et al. 2010.
 Siebert 2001:93; id., 1976:801, 803, figs. 6–8. At the last phase of the house, the opening between courtyard (θ) and room (ι) was closed. Room (ι΄), however, retained its communication with room (μ). Siebert proposes that during the period that room (ι) communicated with the courtyard of the House of the Seals, room (ι) was its oecus maior: Siebert 2001:94.
 On ξενία see Husson 1983:178–180. On the leasing of the houses that belonged to the Sanctuary of Apollo on Delos: Molinier 1914. For a discussion of literary sources on leases and subleases of rooms within a house in early imperial Rome: Frier 1977 and 1980. For rented accommodation in Pompeii see Pirson 1997 and 1999. For rented units in Ostia see Heinzelmann 2005.