The amphora is one of the most versatile and long-lived pot shapes. A two-handled jar (amphi-phoreus, ‘carried on both sides’), it can vary enormously in size, detail of shape, and manner of decoration. Broad-mouthed jars, plain or decorated, were generally known as kadoi or stamnoi in antiquity. Plain or part-decorated jars, more often termed amphoreus, were used widely for storage and transport; we see them often in vase scenes, and literary and epigraphic texts fill out the picture. The average capacity of Classical and Hellenistic jars is 20–25 lt. (4½–5½ gal.); earlier types are regularly larger (up to 95 lt. (21 gal.)), betraying their derivation from the static storage pithos. Early transport amphorae (late 8th cent., esp. Attic and Corinthian) probably contained oil; later, wine becomes the major commodity; jars supplement, then supplant skins. Other commodities which we know to have been transported in amphorae include pitch and dried fish. Stoppers were of various material, though few survive; clay is best attested, both as basic material and sealer, though resin was also used for the latter purpose.Less
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