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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Courtesy of Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Piedmont and Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
Elena Quiri

Distinctive Features

Large cylindrical amphora, classified by Raptopoulos (2005) as Melos 1a. Cipriano et al. (2005) denominated it as 'anfora ad impasto grezzo' (coarseware amphora) and subdivided it into three variants. The rim is wide and vertical with a deep engraved line in the middle which divides it into two parts. The lower part of variant 1 rim could be jutting and pointed compared to the higher one; variant 2 shows a hooked rim; variant 3 has a more moulded and internally concave rim. The curved handles are massive, oval in section, placed on a wide cylindrical neck. The shoulder is rounded and the body cylindrical with horizontal flutings, narrowing at the bottom. The spike has the shape of a truncate long cone. The neck is rarely stamped (variant 1 from Padua and variant 3 from Vercelli). Many variant 1 specimens from Padua have red coloured tituli picti, suggesting the content or onomastic indications (Pesavento Mattioli, 2005).There are no whole specimens of variants 2 and 3.
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Date Range

Between the end of the first century BC/first century AD up until at least the third century AD.
Search: [1st century BC] [1st century AD] [2nd century AD] [3rd century AD]


Melos, where 'waster' specimens from the local kilns have been discovered (Raptopoulos, 2005). An origin on Melos is also confirmed by archaeometric analyses (Picon, 2001).
Search: [The Aegean]


The distribution is rather patchy. Among the finds in the western Mediterranean are examples from Carthage and the lower Rhone Valley (Arles and Cavaillon: Borgard, 2005). To date, the majority of finds are in northern Italy: Padua, Oderzo, Iulia Concordia, Aquileia, Este, Cremona (Cipriano et al., 2005), Milan (Bruno & Bocchio, 1991), Torino, Novara, (Quiri & Spagnolo Garzoli, forthcoming), Chieri (variant 2: Riva, 1987), Vercelli (variant 3, Brecciaroli Taborelli, 1987).
Search: [Italy] [Western Mediterranean]


The very coarse fabric does not seem suitable for foodstuffs. It has been suggested that the content was alum (Borgard, 2005; Pesavento Mattioli, 2005), because the fabric has many similarities with the amphorae used for the transport of alum from Lipari (Richborough 527) and Melos has considerable alum deposits (Hall & Photos-Jones, 2005).
Search: [Alum]


Principal contributor: Elena Quiri.

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