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Storage Jar

Storage Jar

Probably North Africa, 1st century B.C.E.-2nd century C.E.
  • Clay: hand-coiled, slipped, and fired
  • Height: 41 1/8 in. (104.5 cm) Diameter: 11 5/8 in. (29.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Betty and Max Ratner Collection, 1982-27
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Storage Jar

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This large transport amphora from the Roman Period is more than three feet tall. Many jars like this—with pointed bottoms and originating from around the Mediterranean region—have been found in Israel. They offer evidence of an extensive shipping trade under the Roman Empire, reaching ports from Spain to Syria and beyond.

These vessels probably contained wine imported from foreign vineyards. Their shape was ideal for withstanding the pressure of the fermented liquid and for packing and transport. Such jars did not necessarily stand upright during shipping; they were sealed and packed tightly into the angled corners of a ship's hull. For storage, they may have been placed upright in clay or wooden stands, set in holes in the ground, or laid on their sides. Products from Israel were exported as well.