What did the amphorae contain?
Posted by Greeka on 17 Oct 2011
Contrary to what most archaeologists declare, the amphorae that are found in ancient Greek shipwrecks were not only used for carrying wine and olive oil. Genetic analysis in amphorae that are kept in Athens reveal that the ancient Greeks were trading many other products, from nuts and legumes to ginger.
Brendan Foley, archaeologist in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts U.S.A, would find it strange that in scientific bibliography there were references only to wine as the content of amphorae. In fact, historians believed that 95% of the amphorae contained wine. The truth is that most of the thousands of amphorae that have been found in the Mediterranean Sea were empty and only few contained traces of food, such as olive seeds.
In cooperation with two Greek archaeologists, Dimitris Kourkoumelis and Theotokis Theodoulou, Brendan Foley performed genetic analysis to nine amphorae that date from the 5th till the 3rd century B.C. and whose DNA was still on them, although they stayed in the storehouse for almost two decades.
Eventually, Foley discovered genetic material from grapes (that obviously existed in wine) in only six of the nine amphorae, while six of them also contained DNA from olives. In the amphorae, they also found DNA from legumes, ginger, nuts and herbs, like mint, thyme and origanum. The fact that DNA from different species was found in the same amphorae claims that the same vessels were used over and over with different merchandise every time.