Break Through with Basket Handled Amphora

In 2012, Scott Moore and I took on the task of attempting to understand the chronology of our basket-handled amphora. They look like this, and we found a ton of them during the survey and excavations at Pyla-Koutsopetria.

When we first encountered them, we thought that they were probably Iron Age, but as we excavated the site of Vigla we found more and more of them in what were clearly Hellenistic contexts. While pre-sorting the huge deposit of Hellenistic ceramics from the storage pit adjoining the Hellenistic fortification wall, we noticed more and more conical amphora toes in fabrics very similar to those in which the basket handles appeared. The toes had “shaved” sides where clay was removed to create the distinctive shapes and mostly appeared in buff fabrics.

As we began to encounter these handles and toes in a similar fabric, we noticed brief mentions and short articles in a range of publications on these amphora generally dating them to the Iron Age, but we had not found a comprehensive discussion or typology of these handles. This is beginning to change, however, and the very recent publication edited by Mark Lawal and John Lund titled The Transport Amphora and Trade of Cyprus offers some very useful contributions to our efforts to work out the date. In particular, contributions by K. Levent Zoroglu and Kristian Göransson demonstrate that basket-handled amphora were quite widespread in the Mediterranean basin and they might have a place of manufacture on Cyprus. Considering their common appearance on the eastern side of the island, it is tempting to look for a place of origin in the vicinity of Salamis. 

Basket1

Moreover, ours fit into the typology proposed by Zoroglu from his site of Kelenderis in Turkey. We have Type 3 amphora and they coincide with the dates provided through coins and other ceramics at our site.

Basket2

This is an import step in clarifying the chronology and function of our site.

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