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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Richborough 527

Distinctive Features

The most typical vessel comprises a large thick rounded rim with short, chunky semi-circular, ridged, handles and a small solid spike. There is shallow horizontal ribbing on the body, which often displays evidence of fettling, perhaps brushing or wiping with a rag, leaving light roughly horizontal striations. Richborough 527 has been divided into four subtypes: 1a, 1b, 2a and 2b (Borgard et alii, 1991; Borgard et al., 2003). Sub-types 1a and 1b (which are dated earlier) are longer and thinner than 2a and 2b. However, the increased diameter of type 2a and b almost doubles the capacity from 15-20 litres in type 1 to around 30 litres in type 2. Sub-type 2b is the shortest type, but it exhibits the greatest diameter, with more of a pear-shape rather than the cylindrical 2a. Two complete examples of sub-type 2a can be seen in the Aeolian Museum on Lipari. The Augst 43 type is very similar to sub-type 2b and Martin-Kilcher (1994: 434) regards it as one of the rarely-found late forms of Richborough 527. The example found at Augst is incomplete and found in late second or third century AD contexts.
See characteristics

Date Range

Excavations on Lipari show that the pottery workshop operated from the first century BC through to the second century AD (Cavalier 1994; Borgard et alii, 2003) and the deposit of amphorae there was found in these contexts. The earliest amphora form of type, 1a, has been found in late first century BC contexts in Spain and elsewhere (Borgard et alii, 2003, 197). The amphora from Rue de Dinan, Rennes, was found in contexts dating not later than first century AD , and those from Vannes were from an early first century AD level. The British evidence shows the form being current in the first century AD (Peacock, 1977d) and continuing into the early second century AD (Peacock & Williams, 1986).
Search: [1st century BC] [1st century AD] [2nd century AD]


It seems certain that Lipari in the Aeolian Islands was the origin for amphorae of this type. The petrographic characteristics of the fabric consistently exhibit the same distinctive volcanic appearance that match the volcanic geology of the island, and a large deposit (several thousand) of Richborough 527’s was found in a potters workshop at Hiera (modern Vulcano). A suggestion has been made that clay may have been imported from northern Sicily and mixed with some of the local volcanic material (Cavalier, 1994: 192-6; Borgard et al., 2003: 101). The petrology precludes any direct connection with Punic amphorae of broadly similar shape.
Search: [Italy] [North West Europe]


The largest deposit of this form is that found in the potters workshop on Lipari, where several thousand local examples have been discovered. Previously, it had mainly been recognised on southern British sites (Peacock, 1977d; Peacock & Williams, 1986) though fragments of this type have now been found in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Belgium and Malta (Borgard et alii, 2003, 101-2 for a summary of sites).
Search: [Belgium] [Central Europe] [Eastern Mediterranean] [France] [Germany] [Great Britain] [Italy] [North West Europe] [Portugal] [Spain] [The Balkans] [Western Mediterranean]


It has been suggested (Borgard et al. 2003) that amphorae of this type from Lipari were used to transport local volcanic products such as alum (double-hydrated aluminium and potassium sulphate) which was a specialist product used throughout the Roman empire.

Depending on type, the capacity was 15-20 to 30 litres.
Search: [Alum]


Principal contributor: David Williams


Augst 42
Lipari amphora
Peacock & Williams 13


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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