A superb shipwrecked Roman Pottery Transport Amphora, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE


$12,000 USD

This huge amphora was originally used to carry wine overseas.  It was shipwrecked before arriving at its final destination and was eventually pulled from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.  These transport amphoras, as they were known, were used extensively for the transport and storage of wine, olive oil, marine products, preserved fruits and other commodities throughout the ancient Mediterranean.  While other amphorae are often highly decorated, transport amphorae are undecorated and unglazed, and were specifically designed for marine transport, each holding up to under half a ton.  This example shares common features that enabled both pouring and efficient stacking in ships, it has two vertical double-thick handles; ovoid form with thick walls for strength; wide conical neck for easy pouring and a tapering base with a short peg that allowed the amphorae to be stacked safely one upon the other. 

Background:  This amphora can be classified as a “Dressel 2-4,” or a “Koan” Amphora, based upon Amphora Types According to Dressel. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology describes Koan amphorae as having appeared towards the end of the first century B.C. Further, these amphorae were copies of the Greek prototypes from the island of Cos in the Aegean. The evident change in this amphora form was probably due to changes in drinking habits. According to Plinius, these were medicinal wines mixed with seawater, and therefore many Italians did not prefer the wine from that area. The Dressel 2-4 (Koan) amphorae were also manufactured outside Italy and Catalonia at Velax. A discerning trait of this type is the double-shafted handle on either side. 

Dimensions:   Height:  39" (99 cm) with custom stand 46" (117 cm).

Condition:   Thick marine encrustation to one side from long-term underwater exposure,  while the underside was most likely submerged in sand and therefore protected, amphora is intact and in excellent condition overall.   A huge and superb example.

Provenance:  Private Virginia collection, recovered in the Mediterranean from a dive boat in the early 1960's, and then by descent.

Please note:  given the size of this vessel there will be a small surcharge shipping cost.  Please contact us for a quote before purchase. 

Category: Ceramic, Over $10000, Terracotta

Type: Roman