ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 155-184
Amphora Production in the Roman World
A View from the Papyri
Scott Gallimore SUNY at Buffalo
Survey of the papyrological evidence for the various stages of the
pottery production process in Graeco-Roman Egypt with a focus on
wine amphorae. Where possible, evidence from excavations and ethnographical data are integrated into the discussion.
Pottery is the most common artifact recovered through excavation and
survey of Roman sites. To analyze the immense ceramic record, archaeologists employ functional categories, identify the variety of wares, specify the
individual forms present for each ware, quantify the entire assemblage and
its subsets, and often sample part of it for archaeometric testing.1 In short,
whatever can be done to analyze pottery often is.
The dominant role of pottery in the archaeological record contrasts with
its modest presence in the textual sources. Ancient writers did not consider
pottery a significant component of the economy. No treatise on pottery production survives from antiquity, and literary and epigraphical sources preserve
few mentions of potters, several of which are moreover ambiguous. The inscriptions from Korykos in Cilicia provide an example. While analyzing Late
Antique epitaphs from Korykos to record attested occupations, Hopkins noted
that approximately ten percent of the 328 epitaphs which mention the occupation of the deceased refer to the pottery trade.2 This suggests something about
the importance of the pottery industry in the Roman world. However, claiming
1 I would like to thank Peter van Minnen, Melinda Dewey-Gallimore, and two anonymous readers for reading drafts of this paper and providing numerous helpful suggestions. They have saved me from making several careless mistakes and any errors
that remain are my own.
2 K. Hopkins, "Economic Growth and Towns in Classical Antiquity," in Towns in
Societies, ed. P. Abrams and E. Wrigley (Cambridge 1978) 71-72. E. Patlagean, Pauvrete
iconomique etpauvrete sociale d Byzance, 4e-7e siecles (Paris 1977) 158-169 and passim,
also discusses these inscriptions.