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Le ravitaillement en blé de Rome et des centres urbains des début de la République jusqu'au Haut Empire

La Sicile et la Sardaigne

The Granaries of Morgantina and the Lex Hieronica

Paul W. Deussen

Résumé

Recording the ancient fertility of the ager Morgantinus in wheat and barley and the importance of Morgantina as a grain trading center, particularly clear with the great granaries of the city’s lower agora, the A. suggests that to Morgantina Hieron gave the gift of the eastern granary.

Rappelant la fertilité ancienne de l’ager Morgantinus en céréales et l’importance de Morgantina comme centre de commerce du blé particulièrement visible à travers les grands greniers de l’agora inférieure, l’A. propose de voir dans le grenier oriental une construction offerte à la ville par Hiéron II.

Texte intégral

  • 1 For a recent survey, cf. Wilson 1990, chs. 1 and 6, passim.
  • 2 On Morgantine viticulture, cf. Cato, de agric., 6,4; Columella, de re rust., III, 2, 27.

1The extraordinary fertility and agricultural productiveness of ancient and medieval Sicily have long been recognized, and there is ample documentation in the literary and archaeological record1. From the very foundation of the settlement, the ager Murgantinus has shared in this good fortune; Cicero (2 Verr., III. 18; III, 43) alludes repeatedly to the success of the Morgantine farmers before the Verrine exploitation. The cultivation of grain, particularly wheat and barley, substained Morgantina’s economy. Olives and wine formed a lesser part, though not an inconsiderable one, in Morgantina’s agriculture; but grain production and grain trade dominated, from early on2.

  • 3 Interpreted by Kenan T. Erim (1989, 13), questionably, as a mint official’s mark.
  • 4 Treated most recently by Ingrid F. M. Edlund-Berry 1989-1990, 327 ff

2Morgantina’s 5th century silver coinage, significantly, displays an ear of wheat on its reverse (Morgantina Studies, II, 4 ff. and pl. 1, 1-6). A barley corn appears with Nike on the reverse type of a Timoleontic issue of 344-317 B. C.3. The wealth and importance of Morgantina as a grain trading center was immediately clear to any visitor of the city’s lower agora, where the great granaries define the space, together with shops and the venerable sanctuary of Gaia and herchthonic followers4. Demeter and Kore possessed other shrines in town (Edlund-Berry 1989-1990, 327, n. 3).

  • 5 A Syracusan AE coin. Persephone head/bull, ca. 310-290 B. C., from the floor packing. Inv. no. 80- (...)
  • 6 Eight coins from under the tile fall, the latest dating to 214-211 B. C.

3The western granary has been published by Prof. Bell (1988, 321 ff.). Its state of preservation leaves many questions unanswered. Indeed its full dimensions are unknown, because its south end was destroyed completely in the building of a 17th century farmhouse, still occupying the site in its ruined condition. It was a sizeable magazine, at least 32,90 m long and 7,50 m wide. There is numismatic evidence for its Agathoclean date of construction5 and also for its final collapse in 211 B. C.6 The building was empty when the roof fell in. Like its successor, the building used interior and exterior buttresses to add strength to its walls. But unlike the perfected plan of the eastern granary, with multiple entrances, it had a single door, approached by a ramp; on its short north end.

4The eastern granary is a remarkable building, of extraordinary capacity and dimensions. Itslength is 92,85 m, just short of a hemi-stadion, and its width only 7,60 m. Subdivided into six rooms, the building provided administrative offices at its north end, and vast storage facilities in its southern halls which measure ca. 20 and ca. 40 meters in length, respectively. It is of fine, sturdy construction, of local stone, well cut and set together without cement. The exterior makes a massive, fortified impression, as one expects from Hieronic architecture, and as one finds described by Livy (XXIV, 21, 11-12) the royal granaries on Ortygia: Locus saxo quadrato saeptus atque arcis in modum emunitus.

5The plan of Morgantina’s agora (fig. 1) illustrates the site at the end of the third century, omitting all buildings added after the Roman conquest in 211 B. C. The orthogonal street plan was devised in the 5th century; some of the structures belong into the 5th and 4th centuries; but the most impressive edifices and the ambitious, and never completed, building programme are of Hieronic date between 260 and 215 B. C. At this time, Morgantina became a polis axiologos, as Diodorus (II, 78) calls her.

6The agora, the heart of the city, was developed into the commercial, cultural, religious and political center, as a Greek city demands. To this end, stoas and magazines were built, the theatre enlarged, the sanctuaries remodeled, and the great stairs constructed. The visitor entering the agora through its southern gate and traversing its great extent partook of a noteworthy architectural experience. The drama of Hellenistic planning is evident: there are exciting visual axes, a crescendo of spaces, endless rows of whitened timber columns, fountains, public monuments. Grandiose is the partial hexagon of the central 14 stairs, dividing the lower from the upper agora. Elegant are the proportions of the eastern stoa with its 43 Doric columns. Spacious is the overall construct, built by local masons but undoubtedly directed by metropolitan, Syracusan architects and probably favored by royal patronage.

7Into this setting belongs the new, eastern granary. A unit of the measurement, perhaps arbitrarily invented but consistently applied throughout the building, of 19,4 cm, defines its spaces. A system of Pythagorean triangles using integral multiples of this unit provides exact measurements for its bays and buttresses, both interior and exterior. We are reminded of the Hieronic fascination with numbers and geometric principles, and of the academicism of mechanical calculations so dear to Archimedes. The granary also responds to the prescripts of the 3rd century engineer and theoretician Philo of Byzantium whose writings on military defense installations were demonstrably influential in the building of the Euryalus fortifications. There is a definite linkage with Syracusan architecture.

Fig. 1-Morgantina. Plan of the agora, III century B. C.

8As has been pointed out by Prof. Bell (1984-1985, 501 ff., esp. 507-509), the practicality of the Morgantine granaries was recognized by the Roman conquerors, and the format was adopted for Roman military horrea. The earliest examples are those built by Scipio Aemilianus at Numantia in 134 B. C. (Schulten 1927, 207 ff.). They are followed by numerous Imperial horrea in Britain and Germany and elsewhere (Rickman 1971, ch. 7).

9Morgantina minted no coins in the third century. Ninety percent of the coins of this period found in Morgantina are Syracusan issues. This must be interpreted to mean that Morgantina was not autonomous, and that the city belonged into the kingdom of Hieron II.

10Morgantina was therefore subject to the Lex Hieronica.

  • 7 Cf. Columella, de re rust., I, 1, 8; Plinius, hist, nut., XVIII, 22. Also Plutarchus, Marcellus, 1 (...)

11We learn from Varro (I, 1, 8) that Hieron had a serious interest in agriculture about which he wrote a book. He was of course eager to increase his revenues, and this was accomplished through his tithe legislation. It is likely that Hieron harbored scientific interests in addition7.

12The king’s generosity was legendary. The gift of the Syrakosia, loaded with grain, to Ptolemy Philopator was but one exemple among many. To the Rhodians he gave an immense amount of wheat, also ballistae, after the devastating earthquake of 244 B. C., reports Polybius (V, 80).

13Also to the Romans, to whom he was faithful, Hieron gave periodic gifts of grain. This was undoubtedly a calculated political decision.

14To the Syracusans, naturally, he made generous presents: a huge altar, a temple, repairs to the theatre, to name a few. Indeed he was the first Syracusan ruler since the 5th century who supported a major building program. To the youths of Notum he gave a new gymnasium.

15I suggest that to Morgantina Hieron gave the gift of a granary, to set an exemplum for the enactment of the Lex Hieronica and the collection practice of the tithe.

Discussion

16M. BELL: Accennando ad edifici portuali nell’Asia minore evidentemente destinati al deposito del grano, il prof. Nicolet ha suggerito in effetti l’esistenza di una “dimensione architettonica” delle leggi frumentariee di tutto il commercio di grano. Si potrebbe pensare anche alla transportatioadaquam in Sicilia tardo-repubblicana, a città come Catania ο ad altre sulla costa nord, dove l’arrivo del grano per esportazione avrebbe richiesto strutture per proteggerlo prima dell’imbarco. L’identificazione molto interessante di Zevi della contemporanea Porticus Aemilia a Roma quale granaio suggerisce un modello per tali complessi ipotetici in Sicilia. Allo stesso tempo troverei difficile vedere fuori dell’Italia centrale l’uso così precoce dell’opus caementicium, come lo conosciamo nella Porticus Aemilia. Il collega Deussen ha parlato dei granai di Morgantina del III sec., che si rivelano edifici lunghie stretti, costruiti con materiali tradizionali, con tetti di legno adoppio spiovente, ecc. Si può presumere che il grano delle decime restava qui prima di essere trasportatoadaquam. Credo che edifici di questo disegno siano tipici dell’architettura del primo ellenismo, pensando ai cosiddetti arsenali di Pergamo, che il Boeringer in un primo momento ha considerato granai, ο ai granai di Ortigia accennati da Livioe ora ricordati da Deussen. Li immagino simili a quelli di Morgantina. Un grande complesso del tipo romano, realizzato con un modo di costruzione ben diverso, potrebb’essere tipico di un’epoca più tarda; ma nello stato attuale della nostra conoscenza delle città portuali esportatrici, un complesso del genere mi sembra senza modelli convincenti.

Bibliographie

Bibliographical references

Bell 1984-1985: BELL (M.), Recenti scavi nell’agora di Morgantina. Kokalos, XXX-XXXI, II, 1, 1984-1985, 501-520.

Bell 1988: BELL (M.), Excavations at Morgantina, 1980-1985. Preliminary Report, XII. AM, 92, 1988, 313-342.

Edlund-Berry 1989-1990: EDLUND-BERRY (I. E. M.), The Central Sanctuary at Morgantina (Sicily): Problems of Interpretation and Chronology. Scienze dell’Antichità, 3-4, 1989-1990.

Erim 1989: ERIM (K. T.). The mint of Morgantina. In : Morgantina Studies, II, 1-68.

Morgantina Studies II: BUTTREY (T V.), ERIM (K. J.), GROVES (T. D.), HOLLOWAY (R. R.), The coins. Princeton, 1989 (Morgantina Studies II).

Rickman 1971: RICKMAN (G.), Roman Granaries and Store Buildings. Cambridge, 1971.

Schulten 1927: SCHULTEN (Α.), Numantia. Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrahungen, 1905-1912. III : Die Lager des Scipio. Miinchen, 1927.

Wilson 1990: WILSON (R. J. A.), Sicily under the Roman Empire. Warminster, 1990.

Notes

1 For a recent survey, cf. Wilson 1990, chs. 1 and 6, passim.

2 On Morgantine viticulture, cf. Cato, de agric., 6,4; Columella, de re rust., III, 2, 27.

3 Interpreted by Kenan T. Erim (1989, 13), questionably, as a mint official’s mark.

4 Treated most recently by Ingrid F. M. Edlund-Berry 1989-1990, 327 ff

5 A Syracusan AE coin. Persephone head/bull, ca. 310-290 B. C., from the floor packing. Inv. no. 80-281.

6 Eight coins from under the tile fall, the latest dating to 214-211 B. C.

7 Cf. Columella, de re rust., I, 1, 8; Plinius, hist, nut., XVIII, 22. Also Plutarchus, Marcellus, 14.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1-Morgantina. Plan of the agora, III century B. C.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pcjb/docannexe/image/766/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 217k

Auteur

Michigan State University, East Lansing

© Publications du Centre Jean Bérard, 1994

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