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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Samos Cistern Type

Variants of Samos Cistern Type:

[Agora M273]

Distinctive Features

This is a comparatively late amphora type with a wide mouth and plain rim. Its neck is short, broad and cylindrical and its handles are small and curved in profile with a clear central finger-groove. The roughly cylindrical body bulges towards the bottom before tapering into a solid spike. The relatively thin-walled body exhibits distinctive rilling from the neck down, though may present a smooth band about a third of the way down the body. The handles are often roughly applied, whilst distortions in the vessels are by no means uncommon, presumably indicating hasty or incautious manufacture. Arthur (1998) and others regard this type as the successor to the wider-bodied Agora form M273.
See characteristics

Date Range

Sixth to seventh centuries. The example from Argos is dated to AD 585 and the one from Drandra was found built into the dome of a church dating to around AD 580 (Aupert, 1980: 440-1; Sotelazvili & Yakobson, 1984: 194-5; cf. Arthur,1998: 167). At the Crypta Balbi in Rome the type would appear to continue down to at least the end of the seventh century.
Search: [6th century AD] [7th century AD]


Samos has been proposed as the principal origin of this type, based on the cache of examples found there (Arthur, 1998), though the Turkish coast around Halicarnassus, the lower Maeander valley area and the eastern Aegean generally have also been suggested (Panella, 1993; Saguì, 2001).
Similar amphorae, perhaps earlier imperial prototypes, were produced at kiln sites at the port of Elea, 60km north of Smyrna, on the western coast of Turkey (Empereur & Picon, 1986a, 143).
Search: [Greek Islands] [Western Asia Minor]


Most examples of this type came from the island of Samos (Isler, 1969); other examples have been found at Argos, Dranda (near Sukhami in Georgia) and various Byzantine sites in Italy, such as Carminiello al Mannesi, Naples (Arthur, 1998). Otherwise it has a fairly wide, though thin, distribution throughout the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Search: [Black Sea] [Eastern Mediterranean] [France] [Greece] [Italy] [Palestine] [The Levant] [Western Asia Minor] [Western Mediterranean]


Almost certainly wine, for which Samos is mentioned in the carmina of Theodore Prodromos, but there is no sure evidence.
Search: [Wine]


Principal contributor: Paul Arthur

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