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Breakthrough into the Ancient World

Amphorae were used in Ancient Greece to store and trade wine and other liquids. They were two types of amphorae; the neck amphora, which the neck and the body met at a sharp angle and the one-piece amphora, which the neck and the body formed a continuous curve. The largest amphora was about as 1.5 meters high while most were less than 30 centimeters high. The smallest amphora which is called “little amphora” was about 45 centimeters high.

Recent findings reveal that the amphorae that were used in Ancient Greece Hole Oceanographic Institution and geneticist Maria Hansson from Lund University in Sweden found that the amphorae also carried olive oil and different herbs. They tested nine amphorae jars and six of them showed from DNA samples that the jars carried olive oil. They also showed that they carried ginger, walnut, juniper, legumes, mint, oregano and thyme. Each of the DNA samples showed that the jars were reused and carried different products each time.

Other findings and evidence shows that the trades not only included wine but oil, honey, resin, fruit, fish and other meats. This study proves that wine was not the only product that was traded through these jars. Researchers and archaeologists plan to expand their study by investigating and excavating a ship wreck that was found near Kyrenia, Cyprus. In 2008, the Journal of Archaeological Science, reported of a ship wreck that was found off the coast of the island of Chios in Greece. In the ship wreck scientists found one amphora that probably held olive oil flavored with oregano. More ship wrecks that are being discovered, which carried amphorae with them but were destroyed and made into dust are being studied by Foley and Hansson to see if salt had anything to do with it being destroyed.

These new ancient findings could be a breakthrough in archaeology and science. Foley says, “Eventually, when we find the right artifacts, we can find out what the ancients were using for preservation, cosmetics and medicines.”

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