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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Dressel 2-4 Italian

Distinctive Features

This type was based on prototypes from the Aegean island of Cos (Koan type). It has a simple ring-like rim with circular section, and a troncoconic neck that tapers gently inwards to a marked shoulder. The body tends to be cylindrical, with a solid cylindrical spike. The handles, which comprise two parallel clay shafts with a characteristic bifid section, are flexed and join the amphora immediately below the rim and on the shoulder close to its junction with the neck. Within this general type, there is some variation in shape. Those manufactured in the ager Falernus commonly appear taller and with a body that is more or less cylindrical (Panella & Fano, 1977: Groups 8 and 9; Panella, 2002). The distinctive feature of the Pompeii Dressel 2-4, however, is the somewhat squat shape of the cylindrical body, which tends to make them shorter than other types of Dressel 2-4 manufactured in Italy and the provinces (Panella & Fano, 1977: Groups 1-4; Panella, 2002).
See characteristics

Date Range

For the general class of Italian Dressel 2-4, from c. 70BC in both Pompeii and Brindisi to the early third century AD, though the main thrust of production (certainly as regarding export) appears to have been over by the end of the first century AD.

In general terms, production seems to have continued throughout the first century AD. More specifically, the Vesuvian eruption of AD 79 must have destroyed the Pompeian and Sorrentine vineyards, and possibly many in the ager Falernus, as well as disrupting the road system and port facilities in the region (Williams, 2004). In some parts of Italy, however, Dressel 2-4 were still being made at the beginning of the third century AD (Freed, 1989).
Search: [1st century BC] [1st century AD] [2nd century AD] [3rd century AD]


Campania was a key production area. Several kiln sites are known in the north, including Sinuessa/Mondragone (Peacock, 1977c), Falciano, Masseria Zannini, near Masseria Corbo, Masseria Pagliare, Santuario della Gran Celsa, Masseria Starza and Masseria Dragone (Arthur, 1983; 1991). Production is also attested at Minturno (Hesnard et al, 1989) and Fondi/Terracina (Hesnard, 1977; Hesnard & Lemoine, 1981). Although no kilns have yet been documented in the vicinity of Pompeii the frequent occurrence of the Dressel 2-4 "black sand" fabric at the town and the fact that a large number are stamped with the name of L. Eumachius, who is known to have been a prominent citizen of Pompeii, all suggest that they were produced in the vicinity (Panella & Fano, 1977; van der Werff, 1989). Jongman (1991), however, believes them to represent Sorrentine wine containers. Further north, in southern Etruria, production of the Dressel 2-4 has been noted on the Tyrrhenian coast at Gravisca and inland at the Mola di Monte Gelato. In northern Etruria kilns have been documented at the port of Cosa (Will, 1987a), and in the ager cosanus at Albinia (Peacock, 1977c), La Feniglia, as well as in the ager Pisanus and ager Volterranus and the Torrita di Siena. In northern Italy, Dressel 2-4 production is known at Brignano Frascata in Piedmont, Rimini/Ravenna and Modena in Emilia Romagna, as well as perhaps at Trieste (on the basis of stamps). In south-east Italy, they were produced at Apani, Felline, Gianicola and Taranto in Puglia, in southern Italy at the Torre de Palme in the Marche, Silvi Marina in the Abruzzo, and at Vibo Valentia and Capo Colonna in Calabria. They were also made at Naxos and at Lipari/Portinenti in Sicily.
Search: [Italy]


This type is the most important western Mediterranean wine amphora of the early Empire. The Italian varieties, particularly those from Campania, occur widely throughout the Roman empire, from Britain and the north-west provinces to Lusitania (FabiĆ£o, pers.comm.), north Africa, Egypt, the eastern Mediterranean, and even as far as the Red Sea area and India (Peacock, 1971; Panella, 1973; 1981; Rathbone, 1983; Tchernia, 1986; van der Werff, 1989; Martin-Kilcher, 1993; 1994; Lund, 2000b; Gupta et alii, 2001; Bezeczky, 2005; Williams, 2005).
Search: [Eastern Mediterranean] [India] [North Africa] [North West Europe] [Portugal] [Spain] [Western Mediterranean]


Tituli picti make it clear that the main content was wine (Zevi, 1966). The Falernian vintage, in particular, was highly praised by several classical authors (see Tchernia, 1986).
Search: [Wine]


Principal contributors: David Williams, Clementina Panella and Simon Keay


Augst 5
Callender 2
Camulodunum 182
Camulodunum 183
Koan Amphora
Ostia 51
Peacock & Williams 10


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

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