Utilitarian re-use does not keep the original function of objects. Fragments are selected : Parts of the belly (of amphorae) were used for pipework or underfloor space, handles for pestles, and the feet were cut into rounds and served as stoppers. Such an attitude is not exclusive to antiquity. It has existed all over the world from time immemorial. The photographic work of Franck Dujoux and Olivier Foulon draws our attention to this phenomenon, observable today in the Burgundy countryside
A fibula – whose latest avatar is a safety pin – is a device for fastening clothing. It appeared around 1000BC. Mass production was evidenced by the discovery of moulds for casting clusters of fibulae. In the first century, fibulae from Nauheim (Moselle) were popular from the Mediterranean to the Rhine Valley. They were common also on the west coast and in England. Conversely, some fibulae were manufactured in a specific workshop with a limited local selling area. They bear witness to a regional culture.
Oil lamps, originally coming from Italy or from Africa, with or without decoration, appealed to Gallic people. They were readily copied in the workshops of Narbonne, Rhone valley and Allier valley. Lamps were made with a two-part mould, each one originating either from an archetype or from an existing lamp, the holes of which had been previously blocked (over moulding). Moulding and over moulding made it possible to reproduce models and makers' marks of Mediterranean workshops ; we do not know if such copies were sold as imitations or counterfeits.
Terra-cotta/ceramic figurines used to be placed on family altars, at home. They would also accompany a deceased in his grave. Many deities were represented : Venus and mother goddesses were the most popular; Risus (a laughing person), busts of children or animals could be found as well. Mass production by moulding from a model, called archetype, made it possible to disseminate such items on a large scale. Such standardized terra-cotta/ceramic figurines were easy to identify and cheaper than bronze statuettes. They bear testimony to the religion practised by the people.
Antique amphorae were obtained by mass production on a large scale. They could be identified by their shapes. At a glance, a local shopkeeper of the Lingon people (area of Châtillon sur Seine) would have said what they contained and where they came from: Italian wine, Gallic wine, oil, Spanish fish sauce.
Terra sigillata/ decorated clay ware was first produced at Arezzo (Etruria) in the first century BC. Later it was made available in the whole Roman Empire. Standardized pieces of tableware of a nice glossy red, sometimes decorated with stylus drawn motives, were manufactured by moulding or at the potter’s wheel on a very large scale. Archaeologists use the term “industry” to designate this mass production. In Gaul, over the first three centuries AD, the main workshops moved to the centre and later to the east of the country.
Mass production is not contemporary. As far back as antiquity, workshops and artisans organized their production to meet the demand of customers regarding some very popular items. Successful items showed a match between their shape and their purpose. Signatures or maker’s marks, which can be compared to the present trademarks and brand names, began to appear.
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