Ancient Roman oil lamp brand 'from Modena'
Archaeologists have uncovered proof that the Roman Empire's most famous brand of oil lamps was made in Modena, the Emilia-Romagna archaeological superintendency said Thursday.
Fortis lamps, which enjoyed great popularity in the first and second centuries AD and which bear their brand name clearly stamped on their undersides, were long thought to have been produced in the northern Italian town, but archaeologists have now found proof in an ancient Roman rubbish tip.
Kilns and discarded pieces of ceramic products from the period have been uncovered just outside the ancient walls of the city, then called Mutina, and demonstrate the presence of Fortis workshops, they claim.
''It's an extraordinary discovery,'' the superintendency said.
Oil lamps are thought to be one of the first mass-produced goods in Roman times and were used throughout the empire.
Some experts believe the Fortis lamp brand may have had 'branches' outside Italy, although others say some lamps may be pirated versions of the Italian originals.
According to the archaeologists, the recent find shows that an entire quarter of Mutina was once occupied by various ceramic workshops and that everyone used to fire their products in kilns located outside the walls for safety reasons.
In addition to the kilns, the survey has also uncovered evidence that Mutina suffered heavy flooding during the Roman era.
At around six metres down, the archaeologists came across Roman flooring buried under a blanket of flood deposits.
They also found 14 lead acorn-shaped sling bolts for catapults, which may have been used in the Battle of Mutina in 43 BC, when Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, inflicted a defeat on Mark Antony.