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Glossary

amphora

a jar or vase with a large oval body, narrow cylindrical neck, and two handles

bitumen

a black, tarry substance that occurs as an abundant natural product in many places, such as on the shores of the Dead Sea and the Caspian Sea; used in cements, as in the construction of coffins

Hellenistic

the style of Greek art or architecture during the period beginning with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the accession of Caesar Augustus in 27 BC

hydria

a large round water jug with three handles; two handles on the sides for lifting and a third at the back for pouring

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Pottery Containers Used for Holding Liquids
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Pottery can be considered a means by which the history of humanity can be traced from the beginning of his existence on earth. The evolution of humans from the Old Stone Age to the New Stone Age is related to their knowledge of how to produce containers.

Containers developed throughout ancient Egyptians history, and they varied in the uses to which they were put. As well as being used to hold water or food, they were used to preserve the entrails of mummified bodies (Canopic jars), and to hold the offerings of food and drink that were needed by the deceased in the afterworld.


With the coming of the Greeks to Egypt, containers began to assume different forms and functions. The Greeks used them as urns to preserve the ashes of the cremated deceased. An important and useful form of container that was introduced by the Greeks was the amphora. It was principally used for transporting and storing three types of goods: wine, oil and olives; later, it was used to transport fruits and bitumen, in addition to preserving salted fish.

Amphorae were made of clay that was softened with water, shaped and then baked in a wood-fired kiln. Numerous amphorae bore inscriptions, written with graphite either by the maker or by the person, who was transporting the goods. The inscriptions gave either the name of the person transporting the container, or the type of the goods it contained.

There are several examples of amphorae that show how widespread they were in both the Hellenistic and the Roman worlds, for instance:
-The Corinthian amphora: used for the transport of oil.
-The Ionian amphora: for the transport of wine.
-The Etruscan amphora for the transport of wine; this type is distinguished by having no neck.
-The Italian amphora is characterized by its pointed base that resembles a pencil.

Alexandrian amphorae fulfilled all these functions. There were also jars known as the "hydria of Alexandria."

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Amphora with Long Neck
Amphora with Long Neck

Long Necked Amphora
Long Necked Amphora

Short Necked Amphora
Short Necked Amphora

White Amphora
White Amphora

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