RECYCLING AMPHORAE IN THE ROMAN CITY OF SANISERA

Student digging the fill inside the African amphora found in Street 1

Student digging the fill inside the African amphora found in Street 1

Kitchen structure with a platform and the amphora base, both features divided by a vertical stone slab

Kitchen structure with a platform and the amphora base, both features divided by a vertical stone slab

Close-up of the African amphora rim, neck and handle. See how it sits on the ground

Close-up of the African amphora rim, neck and handle. See how it sits on the ground

The main function of an amphora was that of storing and transporting different kinds of foodstuffs and liquids (olive oil, wine, grain, garum, etc) all throughout the Roman Empire. When amphorae reached a port, many of them were thrown away. However, others were recycled in order to be used for different purposes.

In the Roman city of Sanisera (Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain) several recycled amphorae have been found in specific parts of the area under investigation.

One of them was an amphora base found in a kitchen in 2010. It was located next to a combustion platform and was surrounded by mud bricks. This base would have been used to store a product, such as grain or water.

Another interesting case is the amphora found in Street 1 in 2013. An upper part of an African amphora (preserving the rim, neck and handles) was found lying upside down on a small pit in the middle of the street. Inside the amphora we found loads of fish bones in a rich-charcoal deposit. Presumably fish could have been cooked in this vessel!

These 2 examples show how amphorae could have secondary functions once they weren’t used as transport containers.

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