Roman Amphorae: a digital resource

University of Southampton, 2005 (updated 2014)

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Late Roman Amphora 1



Late Roman Amphora 1

Courtesy of Prof. David Soren
Noele Soren

Distinctive Features

The form evolved considerably through the fourth to seventh centuries (Piéri, 2005; Reynolds, 2005). In fact precursors of LRA 1 can be traced back to the mid third century AD, and one can see that this in turn succeeded the Pompeii 5 type (Reynolds, 2005a; Arthur & Oren,1998).

Fourth century AD examples have a tall, narrow neck with a small folded band rim, and probably a small pear shaped body ending in a small nipple base (in fact a reduced size version of the mid third century AD base). Handles are wrapped to create a deep concave face, clearly derived from the handles of Pompeii 5 and its successors of the early-mid third century AD.

In the early to mid fifth century AD the LRA 1 was first exported en masse to western ports, to the troops on the Lower Danube and to Alexandria (Egloff 169). It now has a shorter, more tronconical neck, the same band rim, wider shoulder and corresponding right angled handle profile. The handles are now twisted and semi-closed. During the second half of the fifth century AD the neck becomes wider and more cylindrical, though the base of the neck is still tronco-conical. The rim now receives a wide concave face, formed by folding the neck over or by simply running the finger across to form the concave moulding. Another (Cilician) variant has a small triangular rim projection and plain upper neck. Handles are now closed and bear the characteristic double stepped concave moulding of the sixth century AD variants. Handles can be fairly narrow and delicate in this period. The base bears a small nipple-indent on the inside, as the fourth century AD variants. The late fifth century AD body is still pear-shaped.

Sixth century examples (Egoff 164) differ by having a more cylindrical body and a rounded, plain base. The neck is also cylindrical, ending with a marked concave band. Handles are large and thick. The walls are ‘turned’ to create stepped wide flat sections separated by a narrow ridge. This ridge is in fact a spiral from the base to the neck. The same ribbing is found on later fifth century AD examples, but is not stepped. Narrow convex ribbing is characteristic of shoulder and base sections of fifth century AD and some early sixth century AD examples. The rim tops of LRA 1 of the fifth to seventh AD centuries can be markedly uneven, despite the care with which the rest of the vessel is made. Cypriot examples are perhaps the most carelessly made in this respect. In the late sixth and seventh centuries AD there were several small modules of LRA 1, wide and narrow-necked variants being contemporary (as in the Beirut early seventh century AD deposit BEY 006.5503).

LRA 1 is often found bearing red dipinti in Greek, often Christian in theme (e.g. the Schola Praeconum II deposit: Whitehouse et alii, 1985; for discussion, see Piéri: 2005, 78-9). Some complete Beirut examples indicate that a full set comprise dipinti both sides of the neck, on the shoulder and (in tiny letters) behind one of the handles.
See characteristics

Date Range

Mid third to mid seventh centuries AD. However the ‘classic’ LRA 1/Egloff 169 dates from c. AD 400, and its immediate (narrow necked) predecessor is recognisable by the mid fourth century AD. First major exports of the more recognised type from the mid to late fourth century AD (narrow necked predecessors of Egloff 169; Egloff 169, c. AD 400; Egloff 164, c. AD 500.

The latest examples have been found in contexts of the second half of the seventh century AD (Cripta Balbi/Rome and Alexandria). It is notable that LRA 1 was replaced by the globular ‘Late Roman 13’ amphora at the Anemurium and Zygi Cypriot kiln sites. An almost complete ?Zygi LRA 13 occurred in a large Ummayad deposit in Beirut, with only one LRA 1 rim (Cypriot lime-rich buff fabric).
Search: [3rd century AD] [4th century AD] [5th century AD] [6th century AD] [7th century AD]

Origin

Produced in the Roman provinces of Cilicia and Cyprus. Definite kiln sites for Late Roman 1 are known at the coastal sites of Cilicia and Cyprus (Empereur & Picon, 1989: Ayaş, Soles, Karatas, Tarsus, Yumurtalik/Aegiae; Demesticha & Michaelides, 2001; Demesticha 2003: Anemurium (kiln site), Amathonte (wasters), ?Kourion, Zygi (kiln site). It may be no coincidence that all the true kiln sites for LRA 1 in Cyprus were for sixth or seventh century AD variants and not their predecessors. The proof that the Kourion examples (found in a store room: Williams, 1987) were local and not imported would be in contra.

The evidence for production in Roman Syria is not conclusive. Reynolds (2005a) suggested production sites at Seleucia and Arsuz).
Search: [Cyprus] [Eastern Mediterranean] [Western Asia Minor]

Distribution

Early to mid third century predecessors of LRA 1 exported to Beirut and the Sinai; mid fourth century exports to Beirut and ?Cyprus (Kourion); late fourth century marks first wider marketing, to the Black Sea and lower Danube forts; first major exports to throughout the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea date from early fifth century. They reach the Atlantic and Britain in the late fifth to mid sixth centuries. Late Roman 1 is the most common eastern Mediterranean amphora import on most Mediterranean sites (e.g. Beirut, Carthage, Marseille and Tarragona) (see Reynolds 1995; 2005b). In the Aegean it is matched only by Late Roman Amphora 2 and in the west by Tunisian imports.

Examples therefore found in Beirut; the Sinai (Arthur & Oren 1998); mid fourth century AD examples: Beirut, Cyprus (Kourion earthquake, AD 365) and the Sinai; late fourth century AD: Beirut; Lower Danube?; early to mid fifth century AD: first major exports to the Black Sea and Lower Danube (Karagiorgou, 2000; Opaiţ, 1996), Istanbul, Butrint (southern Albania), Libya and to the west: Carthage, Spain (particularly the east coast), Italy, southern France (Piéri, 2005: 74, Figs 32-3). Late fifth to mid sixth century AD exports now include north-western Spain and south-western Britain. The most common amphora import on sites throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea in the sixth century AD. Early seventh century AD finds have come from: Istanbul, Alexandria, Beirut, Zeugma, Carthage, Marseille, Rome and Tarragona (rare).
Search: [Black Sea] [Cyprus] [Eastern Mediterranean] [Egypt] [France] [Great Britain] [Italy] [Lebanon] [Libya] [North Africa] [North West Europe] [Spain] [The Aegean] [The Balkans] [The Levant] [Tunisia] [Western Asia Minor] [Western Mediterranean]

Contents

Both wine and oil have been suggested. Piéri (2005) argues that wine was probably the principal content. Almost all the well preserved vessels from the port of Marseille were found with pitch on the inside. All the seventh century AD Yassi Adi wreck examples bore pitch, as did examples found in a well at Amathonte (Cyprus) (Bonifay & Piéri, 1995; Piéri, 2005: 83-4). The association of LRA 1 with the oil presses of the Syrian Limestone Massif is unlikely. We should perhaps look to the press sites of the Cilician/Turkish villages to identify possible links with LRA 1 and the product(s) it carried. Given that Salamis may be the source of some sixth and seventh century AD Cypriot examples, the presence of major oil presses within the town could indicate that Salamis LRA 1 contained oil (Argoud et alii, 1980).
Search: [Olive Oil] [Wine]

Comments

Principal contributor: Paul Reynolds

Classification

Ballana 6
Benghazi Late Roman Amphora 1
British B2
Carthage Late Roman Amphora 1
Keay 53
Kuzmanov 13
Peacock & Williams 44
Scorpan 8B

CEIPAC link

The following link will take you to the Centro para el Estudio de la Interdependencia Provincial en la Antiguedad Clásica CEIPAC database. In the CEIPAC system this amphora has the ID KE51+BYZ. Note: access to CEIPAC requires registration, which is possible via http://ceipac.ub.edu/corpus_reg.php?IDM=e