The Olynthus mill in the Alps: New hypotheses from two unidentified millstones discovered in Veneto region (Italy)
The archaeological collection at the Museum of Feltre (province of Belluno, Veneto region, Italy) includes fragments of two ancient millstones of type known as “Olynthus mill” or “hopper rubber”. The first one (from San Donato, in the municipality of Lamón) is mentioned in a number of published and unpublished works; the other (generally from Feltre) is new to archaeological literature. Until now, they had never been identified as specimens of the Olynthus mill.
Following a brief introduction on this type of device (its technical features, origin and geographic distribution) and the main hypotheses concerning its diffusion in the Alps, the first part of this paper describes the two stones from Feltre: their dimensions, morphological features, raw material, etc. Consequently, this article will focus on the topographical areas where the stones were found and on their importance for understanding the diffusion of the Olynthus mill model in the Alpine region characterised by Raetic culture, which is still an unresolved problem. The sites of discovery of the two Olynthus mills (along with the places of origin of the other hopper rubbers found in Veneto region and in the western part of the province of Trento) could suggest new working hypotheses about the provenance of this type of millstone and its introduction into the Raetic territory between 5th and 4th cent. B.C. More specifically, the Olynthus mill model might have been introduced into the Alps through the Piave and Brenta valleys and not the Adige valley as previously thought; the Olynthian-type mills from Veneto region could therefore mark the stages of this south-north path rather than being mere outlying specimens of the Raetic area, or items exported from there.
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