Monday, May 12, 2008

CAG 66: Les Pyrénées-Orientales

My copy of Carte Archéologique de la Gaule: Les Pyrénées-Orientales (66) edited by J. Kotarba, G. Castellvi and F. Maziere arrived recently from [worldcat]. The CAG series describes each volume as a "pré-inventaire archéologique" but there is some modesty in this. While it's true that most of the entries are brief, the introductory thematic overviews are usually first rate and the information in each volume is so up-to-date at the time of publication that they are essential research tools.

CAG Les Pyrénées-Orientales continues the trend of increasing use of color images and this is very welcome. Overall, the volume is excellent and there is something for everyone to enjoy. Do you like inscriptions? Check out the color image of a lead tablet discoverd in 2003 and inscribed with incompetent Greek (p. 250). Or the series of Roman-period inscribed pots, known since 1958, which may represent the trash from a tavern (p. 504). I particularly enjoyed the review of work at Ruscino near Perpignan. There is a Visigothic component here as well as an Islamic settlement dating to the 8th century, as indicated by the presence of lead seals with Arabic legends (p. 471-473). For its part, the overview of underwater discoveries pulls together information that is scattered in many publications (p. 622-641).

It takes patience to makes one's way through a CAG volume. The reward is finding something interesting that you might otherwise have missed, like the six nomismata Byzantine weight illustrated on p. 281. It comes from a site at which African Red-Slip was recorded, including the 5th to 6th century form Hayes 87.

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