Roman Amphorae: a digital resource

University of Southampton, 2005 (updated 2014)

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University of Southampton (2014) Roman Amphorae: a digital resource [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Keay 39

Distinctive Features

It seems that these two types defined by Keay can be combined (Bonifay, 2004). The complete example discovered at Tarquinia suggests that it is a large amphora with a globular and cylindrical body terminating in a rounded base and a short cylindrical spike flattened at the bottom. The shoulder is rounded with a short cone-shaped neck. Handles are squared in profile and flattened in section. The rim can be rounded in section with an internal groove (type Keay 3B similis) or triangular in section (type Keay 39). Combed decoration is frequent on the neck and sometimes on the shoulder.
See characteristics

Date Range

Second half of the fourth to mid-fifth century AD
Search: [4th century AD] [5th century AD]


The fabric suggests a north African origin, but not necessarily a Tunisian one. The mainly western distribution and distinctive fabric rather point to the western part of Zeugitana, Numidia or Mauretania.
Search: [North Africa] [Tunisia]


Especially well attested in the north-western part of the Mediterranean. Numerous exemples are known from Catalunya (Keay, 1984; RemolĂ , 2000). The type is attested in the Port-Vendres wreck (Bonifay, 2004). A complete exemple is known from Tarquinia (Aoyagi, 1994).
Search: [France] [Italy] [North West Europe] [Spain] [Tunisia] [Western Mediterranean]


Since the examples from the Port-Vendres wreck were not lined with pitch, olive oil could be a strong possibility.
Search: [Olive Oil]


Principal contributor: Michel Bonifay


Keay 3B similis