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According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Amphora is an ancient Greek jar or vase with a large oval body, narrow cylindrical neck and two handles that rise almost to the level of the mouth.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, Amphora is a long, narrow clay container with two handles, wider at the top than at the base, that was used in ancient times especially for storing oil or wine.

The term Amphora is derived from the Greek word amphi- phoreus which means ‘carried on both sides’.

It is a kind of container having characteristic shapes and sizes. They could be plain or decorated with beautiful designs. They belong to the Neolithic period.

It has a super-pointed bottom and a narrow neck. They were made up of baked clay or terracotta.

Two main types are-

  • Neck amphora- here, the body and neck meet at a sharp angle.
Image source- Catawiki
  • Belly amphora (or simply amphora)- here, the body and neck form a continuous curve upward.
Image source- Phoenix Ancient Art


It was a vessel used for storage purposes and as a transport vessel for olives, cereal, oil, perfumes, foodstuff and other commodities but mostly for wine. One of the purposes of constructing an amphora was transportation which is why it is found throughout the ancient world. It was a kind of wine bottle.

It is also used in burial practices as a container for the ashes of the dead.

Importance of Amphora

It is of great importance in archaeology because its presence helps in providing data on the sites, trade relations and everyday diet. It tells us about the way ancient people lived, their customs and rituals.

Also read:


World History Encyclopedia




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