Nicolas Monteix (2011), Panificio VII 1, 25.46-47
The main objective of the “Pistrina – ricerca sui panifici dell’Italia romana” project is to define, on the basis of the archaeological evidence, the chronology of the transition from domestic to commercial baking, following the technical developments, in particular those of the oven and the organisation of the productive spaces.
During this campaign the investigation of the abandoned bakery in the domus Sirici (VII, 25.46-47) began, in particular the part which originally housed the millstones. In fact, at the time of the eruption the bakery of this large house had been dismantled and was partially occupied by a large room opening onto the main atrium of the house. The paving of basoli and the oven, which in 79 A.D. was probably no longer in use, are preserved.
The investigations concentrated on the interior of two negative impressions left in the basoli by the millstones and in front of the oven itself with the aim of defining the dating for the dismantling of the bakery.
The most significant results emerged from the excavation in the negative of the eastern millstone. In fact, as well as revealing the construction sequence for the installation of the millstone itself and of the basalt floor, the geological stratigraphy was reached at about 27 m a.s.l. where an opus signinum structure on a mortar make up (visible thickness about 0.80 m, length about 1.50 m) appeared. It was built directly on natural and, despite its irregular profile, traced a north-south line forming a corner of about 34° with the room’s south wall. The creation of the bakery had substantially cut into this structure which, on the basis of its construction characteristics, is interpreted as a foundation. Its alignment suggests that the area’s spatial organisation was very different from that surviving today. The small surface area of the trench cannot, for the moment, provide further data for a correct interpretation which it is hoped to clarify in future campaigns.
A second trench was put into the negative of the western millstone. At this point the situation was compromised by two interventions. In fact, the construction of the north-eastern corner of the large room opening onto the atrium of the domus Sirici stood in this position. It was built following the earthquake of 62 A.D. and thus provides a useful terminus ante quem for the bakery’s abandonment. At the same point the excavation revealed evidence of work undertaken at a time post-dating the building of this room, connected with the laying of a lead fistula for the provision of water to a basin situated slightly to the north.
This further intervention thus provides data regarding at least two phases of the post-earthquake period of the domus and the bakery.
Lastly, in front of the oven, the excavation was limited, for the moment to the removal of ash residue and lapilli from the 79 A.D. eruption not cut by the modern excavation. Whilst awaiting the precise chronology with dating from the pottery evidence it can be stated that various phases, both earlier and later than the installation of the bakery, were observed.