The Transport Amphorae from Euesperides : The Maritime Trade of a Cyrenaican City 400–250 BC

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The present thesis is a study of Mediterranean trade 400-250 BC through an examination of transport amphorae from the ancient Cyrenaican city of Euesperides (Benghazi), Libya. The material comes from excavations conducted from 1999-2006 by the Society for Libyan Studies. Amphorae were used for the transportation of commodities such as wine and olive oil. Found in great numbers at the site they testify to the city's trading contacts in the ancient Mediterranean After an introduction to the subject of amphora studies (Chapter 1) and an historical and archaeological background (Chapter 2), the different classes and types of amphorae are presented (Chapter 3) with drawings and photographs. For certain types lists of parallels are given. Analysis of the ceramic fabrics is an important part of the method used in the study. It is emphasised that amphora morphologies must always be studied together with fabrics. The fabrics provided the key to the identification of the local or regional Cyrenaican amphorae, which are presented in detail. All the 1392 studied rims, bases and handles (RBH) were quantified by count in order to present the relative proportions of each type. Amphorae from selected contexts were also fully quantified, i.e. including bodysherds, in order to study potential variations between different levels of precision in the quantification. As a result, the RBH quantification was deemed reliable for a broadly dated and large set of material such as this. In Chapter 4 Mediterranean maritime trade is discussed and a number of inter-regional trade routes for the amphorae are suggested. The quantities and various provenances of the amphorae demonstrate that trade in amphora-borne commodities was undertaken over great distances and on a large scale. As much as 77% of the amphorae are imported, 5% from the Punic world and the remaining 72% from various parts of ancient Greece. The remaining 23% of the amphorae are Cyrenaican. The amphorae from Euesperides contribute significantly to altering our views on the extent and organisation of maritime trade for the period studied. Trade was not regionally-bounded; instead commodities were traded over long distances and along many parallel, inter-regional trade routes. Euesperides was a node in this system of inter-locking Mediterranean markets. The thesis thus demonstrates how a study of quantified amphorae can give a much fuller and richer understanding of trading contacts than traditional approaches focusing on stamped amphora handles. The results obtained provide a set of data from Euesperides which can be used as a point of reference and departure for other studies.


  • Kristian Göransson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • Antikens och forntidens historia, Ancient history, Hellenistic, pottery, ancient economy, trade, Cyrenaica, amphorae, Arkeologi, Archaeology
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Kristian Göransson, Supervisor
Award date2007 Mar 3
  • Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-22-02164-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-03-03 Time: 10:15 Place: Sal 201, Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper, Biskopsgatan 7, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Lund, John Title: Dr Affiliation: The National Museum of Denmark ---