Roman Amphorae: a digital resource

University of Southampton, 2005 (updated 2014)

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Africana 3A

Distinctive Features

Classed as 'contenitori cilindrici della tarda età imperiale' (cylindrical containers of the late Imperial period: Manacorda, 1977a: 171ff.), these fall typologically between the amphorae of the Africana Grande series and the larger cylindrical African amphorae of the later fifth/sixth centuries. Keay distinguishes 30 variations (for full details see Keay, 1984: 184-212), but gathers together the most common ones (variants A-V) in three main sub-types.

The first sub-type is characterised by a band-shaped rim with a near vertical or gently everted (30°) external face, with the top always marked by a slight external step (the so-called 'orlo a becco'). The neck is cone-shaped and the handles, attached directly on the latter, have a tall 'ear-shaped' profile and elliptical section. The body is cylindrical and narrow, the lower section tapered to a tight base terminated by an elongated cylindrical spike with a central swelling.

Anepigraphic stamps are sometimes attested on the neck (circles, half circles, dotted circles). Epigraphic stamps are very rare : in some cases three incised letters (possible tria nomina ?) on the neck.
See characteristics

Date Range

Mainly fourth century AD. Early variants: possibly end of the third century AD
Search: [3rd century AD] [4th century AD]


Production is attested in many parts of Tunisia, mainly Zeugitana (el-Ariana near Carthage, Nabeul) (Panella, 1982; Ghalia et al., 2005) and in Byzacena (Leptiminus, Sullecthum, Thaenae, Oued El-Akarit) (Peacock et alii., 1989; Bonifay, 2004), but possibly in Algeria as well (Bonifay, 2004).
Search: [Libya] [North Africa] [Tunisia]


One of the most widely distributed African types in western Mediterranean (large quantity of Catalan and southern French material), very frequent at Ostia and Rome, and well attested in eastern Mediterranean (Beirut). Large collections at Carthage (Freed, 1995), Ostia (Manacorda, 1977) and in Catalunya (Keay 1984; Remolà 2000). Several south French wrecks contained Africana 3A/Keay 25.1 cargos : Pampelonne (Lequément, 1976), Héliopolis 1 (Joncheray, 1997), Pointe de la Luque B (Dovis-Vicente, 2001).
Search: [Eastern Mediterranean] [France] [Italy] [North Africa] [North West Europe] [Spain] [The Levant] [Tunisia] [Western Mediterranean]


Unknown. Surprisingly, olive oil seems to be excluded (these containers are in majority pitched). Perhaps wine, but fish sauce cannot be excluded (Bonifay, 2004).
Search: [Fish Sauce] [Wine]


Principal contributor: Michel Bonifay


Keay 25.1

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