An Interesting 12-14thC Salvaged Shipwreck Pottery Amphora

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Origin: Unknown
Period: Medieval
Provenance: From an unidentified wreck in the South China Sea
Date: 13th – 14th Century
Height: 14 inches
Width: 6 inches (at maximum)

Recovered from an unidentified wreck in the South China Sea, fully enveloped with sea bed encrustations, the classically shaped slender two-handled amphora having a conical body and rounded shoulder merging with a narrow neck, survives from the thirteenth to fourteenth century.

There are lime deposits and root marks amongst the encrustations present on the amphora. Intact, this evocative piece of salvage is in as found, original condition. The seabed encrustations remain undisturbed and when in the sea, these encrustations protect treasures that are thousands of years old and the largest encrustation is to be found on its opening.

Roman amphorae were used for many purposes, particularly for storage purposes. They varied considerably in size from as small as this one to over a metre high. They would be sealed in various ways, with a stopper and cloth and sometimes the stopper would be sealed with the merchants or owners seal. In some periods the shape was also used for luxury pottery, which might be elaborately painted. Stoppers of perishable materials, which have rarely survived, were used to seal the contents. Most were produced with a pointed base, like this one, to allow upright storage by being partly embedded in sand or soft ground. This also facilitated transport by ship, whereby the amphorae were tightly packed together with ropes passed through their handles to prevent breaking or toppling during rough seas.

Utterly fascinating antiquarian salvage for those who like to fantasise about the mighty deep.

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