Name for a vessel made of clay, stoneware, bronze and more rarely also made Glass, The Greek name "Amphora" is derived from the fact that one could carry the vessel to "two handles" ("amphi" = "carry two handles" and "phéro" = "carry"). This was done with larger volumes or weight by two people. It was probably by the Canaanites, the ancestors of the Phoenicians invented and 1500 BC After Egypt brought. The amphorae developed into the most popular vessel in the antiquity, which was used for liquids of all kinds, especially for oil or wine. From the Greeks it was later until after China brought.
The classic wine amphora was a bulbous clay pot with two handles on a narrow neck and pointed lower part. Amphorae usually had no foot, so they could not be put without mostly three-legged pedestal, but were also stored lying or hung on the handles. They were also often used for marine transport, for which purpose they stuck in a thick layer of sand for fixation with the pointed lower part. There were various forms, including the Attic Pelike (also Stamnos) with a fixed base and short neck, which was mainly used for wine and oil, but also as an urn for the storage of ashes in tombs.
The size was very different. Greek amphorae were about 40 liters; In the Romans "Amphora" was also used as a unit of measurement for 26 liters (see below congius the ancient Roman cavities). The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (90-21 BC) writes that in trade between Romans and Celts (in the 5th century BC) the equivalent for just one amphora of wine was a slave, but that was certainly not the true equivalent. Often the amphorae were made in with wax or resin poured out. In Greece, it was customary to cover the surface of the wine with a layer of resin and oil before sealing, in order to increase the shelf life. In this way is the traditional resin wine Retsina emerged.
Closed amphorae with terracotta (burnt earth) plugs, which were attached with string and then sealed with paint, clay or pitch. As a result, the vessel was airtight and the wine contained therein could be stored for a long time. The famous called "Opimianer" Falernian was kept in amphorae for 100 years or more. Also one labeling was already common among the Romans. Since the vintage was the only way to distinguish wines until the emergence of renowned growing areas, the amphorae were labeled accordingly. Such labels were written either on the belly or neck of the amphorae with ink, Mennige (lead oxide) or white color. In the form of tablets, they hung on the neck.
The two most important labels were the age and the variety. Sometimes even bearing data or the date of tapping was given, the color only if a growing area produced both white and red wine. Occasionally, quality attributes such as "bonum" or "excellens" were also found on the tablets. But even then there was already one misnomer, like for example Falernian, The amphorae were similar pottery Dolium (Roman Empire) and pithos (Greece), as well as those still in use today Kvevri (Georgia) and tinaja (Spain) However, these were or are considerably larger with volumes of up to several thousand liters. Today, amphorae are becoming increasingly popular again fermentation and / or maturation of wines produced by ancient methods. See under Cachetic method and Orange wine,