The Cypriot Amphora: an overview of the archaeological evidence
PublisherΠανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή / University of Cyprus, Faculty of Letters
Place of publicationCyprus
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The Cypriot amphora, well-known in scholarship as basket handle amphora, was the characteristic maritime transport container of Cyprus and it was produced during the Archaic, Classical and Early Hellenistic periods. The vessel was also distributed during the same periods in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially the coasts of Egypt, the Levant and the south and southwestern coasts of Anatolia. This thesis aims to record all the published Cypriot amphorae that were excavated in Cyprus and to demonstrate the distribution of the vessel within the island based on various parameters which include chronology, typology and possible regional production centers. For this purpose, a catalogue of 257 entries (including complete and fragmented amphorae) has been formed in the framework of this thesis. Additionally, maps were created to visualize the distribution of the Cypriot amphora within the island, and multiple tables indicating the dissemination of the different typological variants of the amphora as well as the appearance of the vessel within shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean. This study has demonstrated that the Cypriot amphora circulated throughout the island, yet with the evident absent of published material coming from the north and northwest coast of Cyprus. Furthermore, two regional production centers can be securely identified up to date: Amathus, which is confirmed by stamps, and Salamis, according to petrographic analyses. Based on the results of scientific analyses on the contents of such vessels discovered in two Classical wrecks, the Ma‘agan Mikhael and the Yavneh-Yam, it was shown that these Cypriot amphorae were carrying wine. However, the discovery of such vessels in the context of an olive press at Nicosia-Agios Georgios Hill indicated that the vessel was also used for carrying olive oil. Finally, a thorough study of the characteristic Cypriot transport amphora is hindered by the lack of publications of the excavated material that could shed light on the dissemination of the different types of this vessel at a spatial and temporal level. At the same time scientific analyses are needed to help determine the regional production centers.