Overview

amphora


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

[Ar]

A large two‐handled ceramic jar with narrow neck and pointed or rounded base. Used for the storage and transportation of liquid commodities such as wine, olive oil, and fish sauce around the ancient world. One of the most abundant forms of finds in Roman and later sites. The earliest amphorae, known as Canaanite jars, originated on the Lebanese–Syrian coast in the 15th century bc. The latest amphorae date to the 7th century ad, by which time wooden and skin containers seem to have taken over the traditional roles. The study of amphorae is facilitated by the distinctive typological form of vessels from different areas and of different dates. Petrological work also helps with the definition of sources for vessels found at the end of their journey as containers. Stamps and painted inscriptions (tituli picti) assist in the recognition of the original contents.

Several classificatory schemes have been proposed for amphorae, most notably in 1899 by Henri Dressel who illustrated 45 main forms (D1–D45). Pélichet (1946) and Almagro (1955) added further forms to the list, while Schumacher (1936), Callender (1965), and Lamboglia (1955) have attempted to group the basic types into broad groups. Most recently, David Peacock and David Williams have provided a new classification based on form and origin (based on petrological work) with 66 classes. The more common classes can be summarized as follows (with Dressel numbers in brackets): 1. brindisc amphorae from Apani, Italy— olive oil; 2. Graeco‐Italic amphorae from a range of sources in Sicily, Corsica, Spain, and the Aegean—probably wine; 3. (D1A) from Campania, Latium, and Etruria in Italy—wine and occasionally shells, resin, and hazel nuts; 5. (D1C) from Campania and Etruria—wines and olives; 6. (D1) from Catalan coast of Spain and ?Aspiran, France—wine; 7. (D21–22) possibly from Campania and Lazio, Italy—fruit; 8. (D6) from Apulia and the Istrian peninsula of Croatia—mainly olive oil; 9. Rhodian amphorae from Rhodes—wine and sometimes figs; 10. Graeco‐Roman amphorae (D2–4) from a range of sources in Campania, Latium, and Etruria, Italy, Catalonia and Baetica in Spain, southern and central France, and perhaps Brockley Hill in England—mainly wine, sometimes figs and fish sauce; 14. (D12) southern Spain and used for fish‐based products; 16. (D7–11) from southern Spain—fish sauce; 24. (D25) southern Spain, possibly olive oil; 25. (D20) globular amphorae, Baetica, southern Spain—olive oil; 26. (D23) southern Spain—olive‐oil‐based products; 26. (D23) southern Spain—olive‐based products; 32. Neo‐Punic amphorae, Morocco and Tunisia—?olive oil; 43. (British Bi) Aegean or Black Sea region, content unknown, possibly resin; 44. (British Bii) Northern Syria or Cyprus—?oil; 45. (British Biv) eastern Mediterranean—content not known; 49. (Almagro 54), Gaza, Palestine—?wine.

1. brindisc amphorae from Apani, Italy— olive oil; 2. Graeco‐Italic amphorae from a range of sources in Sicily, Corsica, Spain, and the Aegean—probably wine; 3. (D1A) from Campania, Latium, and Etruria in Italy—wine and occasionally shells, resin, and hazel nuts; 5. (D1C) from Campania and Etruria—wines and olives; 6. (D1) from Catalan coast of Spain and ?Aspiran, France—wine; 7. (D21–22) possibly from Campania and Lazio, Italy—fruit; 8. (D6) from Apulia and the Istrian peninsula of Croatia—mainly olive oil; 9. Rhodian amphorae from Rhodes—wine and sometimes figs; 10. Graeco‐Roman amphorae (D2–4) from a range of sources in Campania, Latium, and Etruria, Italy, Catalonia and Baetica in Spain, southern and central France, and perhaps Brockley Hill in England—mainly wine, sometimes figs and fish sauce; 14. (D12) southern Spain and used for fish‐based products; 16. (D7–11) from southern Spain—fish sauce; 24. (D25) southern Spain, possibly olive oil; 25. (D20) globular amphorae, Baetica, southern Spain—olive oil; 26. (D23) southern Spain—olive‐oil‐based products; 26. (D23) southern Spain—olive‐based products; 32. Neo‐Punic amphorae, Morocco and Tunisia—?olive oil; 43. (British Bi) Aegean or Black Sea region, content unknown, possibly resin; 44. (British Bii) Northern Syria or Cyprus—?oil; 45. (British Biv) eastern Mediterranean—content not known; 49. (Almagro 54), Gaza, Palestine—?wine.

[...]

Subjects: Archaeology.


Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »


Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.