Tag Archives: amphorae

Ancient Greek ships shipped more than just wine

New data has shown that ancient Greek merchant ships transported a wide assortment of goods, not just wine.

What is interesting about this story is how it punctures a hole in an assumption too many archeologists have been making about the amphorae, the standard shipping container of the ancient Mediterranean:

Amphorae have been found in their thousands in wrecks all over the Mediterranean Sea. Some of them contain residues of food, such as olive pits and fish bones, but the vast majority of them are discovered empty and unmarked. Foley says historians tend to assume that these containers were used mainly to transport wine — in a survey of 27 peer-reviewed studies describing 5,860 amphorae, he found that 95% of the jars were described as having carried the beverage.

The new research found evidence for many things besides wine, illustrating again the dangers of assuming anything in science.