Making dolia and dolium makers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dolia were the largest type of pottery in the ancient world, capable of holding hundreds to as much as three thousand liters. Their shape and size facilitated wine fermentation, and also made them the most expensive and difficult type of pottery to produce. This paper discusses the production of dolia to explore the specialized skills, which consisted of both free and enslaved labor, necessary for the craft. Dolia were also produced alongside brick and tile products in workshops that supplied the building industry of Rome. Craftsmen trained to make dolia acquired considerable skills and usually advanced in the workshop. As a result, a type of professional identity developed, one that both reified and defied conventions since some workers were enslaved and/or manumitted. Finally, this paper briefly discusses the enslaved potter David Drake from nineteenth-century South Carolina to consider the limits of our knowledge about skilled and enslaved craftsmen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWorld Archaeology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • ceramics
  • craft
  • Dolia
  • pottery
  • professional identity
  • skilled labor


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