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Wine Transport Amphoras

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Wine Transport Amphoras

This Wine Transport Amphora was found in a Mediterranean shipwreck by the underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. Cousteau recovered some 1,200 amphoras from the Grand Congloué island near Marseille, off the southern coast of France. Most of the ship’s wine cargo had been stored in amphoras produced by the wealthy Sestius family from Cosa, a port of Rome. This identification could be made because of the markings on the amphoras. Most of the amphora handles were stamped with “SES” from this specific shipwreck discovery. These stamps were pressed into the clay handles before firing and identified the amphoras’ place of origin. These Amphora examples were designed for marine transport, and most of the Amphoras were covered with traces of incrustation after nearly 2,000 years under the sea.

Amphoras

An amphora describes a container originating from the early Neolithic Period, used in vast numbers in the Ancient Greek and Roman eras for the transport and storage of various products, but mostly for wine. They are most often ceramic, but examples in metals and other materials have been found. Amphora was also made for more than just for storage and transport purposes. The Ancient Greeks also produced high-quality painted amphorae for a variety of social and ceremonial purposes. Their design differed significantly from transport amphoras, as typified by amphoras with wide mouths, ring bases, and decorated glazed surfaces.

The loutrophoros amphora was used principally for funeral rites and as grave markers. Their large size characterized them, and they became a motif for Greek tombstones, while some amphorae types were used as containers for the ashes of the dead. However, by the Roman period, only utilitarian amphorae were usually produced.

Wine Transport Amphoras

  • Title:               Wine Transport Amphoras
  • Culture:          Graeco-Roman
  • Provenience: France’ Grand Conlogue, Shipwreck of a Rome Gallery
  • Date Made:    110-80 BC
  • Materials:       Ceramic
  • Dimensions:   Length: 104cm
  • Museum:        Penn Museum

Exploring Penn Museum Artifacts

Reflections

  • What images do shipwrecked Amphora evoke for you?
  • Does any other artifact scream, ancient Greco-Roman, more than an Amphora?

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“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
– Marcus Aurelius

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Photo Credit: GM

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