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Sealed Amphora Stoppers and Tradesmen in Greco-Roman Egypt

The study of Egyptian amphora stoppers and seal-
ings has long been neglected in favour of studies
on the amphorae themselves and stamped am-
phora handles. Due to their poor state of preserva-
tion or to their supposed lack of esthetical value,
sealed stoppers were either considered unworthy
of publication or remained unnoticed in excavation
reports or catalogues. In recent years, sealed am-
phora stoppers from Greco-Roman Egypt have at-
tracted increasing interest. In two articles in 2000
G. Nachtergael discussed wooden stamps used to
impress amphora sealings. In 2005 Paola Davoli
devoted a book to clay objects found in the temple
area of the Fayum village of Bakchias, among these
a whole series of sealings for closing amphorae.
In an appendix of Davoli’s book Katelijn Vandorpe
studied the sealings of containers in Greco-Roman
Egypt, such as boxes, chests and amphorae.
The present article is the first to focus on the
entire corpus of sealed amphora stoppers dating
back to Greco-Roman times. The period offers a
wide range of finds, mainly because of the expan-
sion of trade: whereas the Ptolemies continued
local trade and insured an increase of the Red Sea
trade, the Romans facilitated trade towards the
West and watched over the full exploitation of the
country’s resources. The major part of the evi-
dence originates from the fertile Fayum area and
the Eastern Desert region, entrance to a wide Red
Sea trade. The entire corpus of evidence is avail-
able through a database-driven website:
In the first part of this article the technical as-
pects of the closing devices, such as construction
and materials, are discussed. The second part of
the article focuses on the stamps impressed on the
amphora sealings, briefly describing their outer
appearance and compares the information they
provide (such as the names of businessmen) with
papyrological evidence: several businessmen re-
corded on amphora stamps may be identified.
These identifications give us insight into the indi-
viduals who were involved in local or international
trade. We will try to find out who was responsible
for filling the amphorae or their subsequent sale.
A great deal of information coming from Egyptian
amphora stoppers and sealings is transferred by
stamps impressed on the sealed stoppers. Before
any discussion of stamps or the information they
can convey, their bearers, the amphora stoppers
and sealings, must be studied. In this chapter, we
ascertain the difference between stoppers and
sealings, discuss how and from what material
they are made of and examine the peculiarities
they can present.
Stoppers and sealings
The terms ‘stopper’ and ‘sealing’ are often used
as synonyms, indicating the entirety of a closing
device for amphorae. There is, however, an essen-
tial difference between both (fig. 1). Stoppers are
plugs of stuffing materials such as straw or vine
leaves that are placed inside the neck of the am-
phorae to a depth of 7 to 8 cm.
Their purpose is
BABesch 82 (2007, 115-128. doi: 10.2143/BAB.82.1.2020764)
Sealed amphora stoppers and tradesmen in
Greco-Roman Egypt: archaeological, papyrological
and inscriptional evidence
Evelien Denecker and Katelijn Vandorpe
This paper focuses on sealed amphora stoppers and their stamps originating from Greco-Roman Egypt; the
majority of the stoppers appear to belong to the Roman period. After a discussion of the technical aspects of the
sealed stoppers, the stamps are dealt with. With the help of papyri, ostraka and inscriptions, some of the indi-
viduals mentioned on these stamps may be identified. In case of local trade, the (clay) stamps rather refer to the
origin of the wine, whereas in case of international trade the (plaster) stamps record the businessmen involved
in trade, among them people from the highest echelons of Egyptian society.*
to protect the contents of the vessel from being
contaminated by wet clay or plaster from the seal-
ing. We find different types of stoppers: reed stop-
pers consist of a series of roughly circular mats of
varying diameter, which are woven, laid upon each
other or simply bound together. Pottery stoppers
consist of small saucers or shards laid at the top of
the amphora neck. Clay stoppers are thick hand-
made discs of clay placed in the neck of the am-
phora, most probably while still wet.
Very com-
mon are the stoppers consisting of a wad of leaves,
usually vine leaves but occasionally papyri. These
fresh leaves can be laid on top of each other, or
propped together in a bung.
Stoppers of other
materials, such as cork,
linen, grass, bits of straw
or chopped chaff mixed with earth or clay, also
An amphora sealing is, strictly spoken, what is
laid over the stopper to complete and fortify the
stopper and hermetically close the amphora.
Sealings consist of clay or plaster and can be laid
above and around the neck of the amphora. Da-
voli, discussing clay sealings from the Hellenistic-
Roman village of Bakchias, divides them in three
subgroups: the Conical-trunk sealings, the Mush-
room-shaped sealings and the Convex-with-cav-
ity sealings (fig. 2). The Conical-trunk sealings are
closing devices that go deep into the amphora’s
neck and have a slightly conical shape in profile.
The upper part of Mushroom sealings has the
more or less round and convex shape of a mush-
room. The interior part goes below the rim into
the neck of the vessel. Sealings of the Convex-
with-cavity type do generally not go into the neck
of the amphora, but lie above and around it. The
upper part has a round convex shape, while the
part underneath is hollow and follows the round
shape from above.
The different sealing types are
not linked to a particular type of amphora; they
could be applied in all shapes to amphorae and
jars of varying sizes.
Despite the frequent appearance of mould-
made sealings in Pharaonic times, Greco-Roman
clay sealings are always handmade.
The clay is
placed on the mouth of the amphora, over the
stopper, and subsequently modelled into shape,
creating an uneven and often rough surface. A
stamp can be impressed when the sealing has
slightly dried.
Although any type of clay could be used to
seal any jar, the plasticity of the clay had to be
controlled. If too high, excessive shrinkage could
occur when it dried, causing the sealing to crack.
In order to prevent this, chaff and/or sand could
be added to the fresh clay.
Whereas clay for am-
phorae or other vessels might sometimes have
been imported from further afield, the clay for the
sealings generally originated from the site of pro-
As the knowledge required to select the clays
for either amphorae or sealings would have been
the same, it has been assumed that the making of
closing devices was supervised by potters or was
a part of their own job.
However, there is no evi-
dence that amphorae were filled at the exact place
where they were produced. Since clay sealings (or
plaster ones for that matter),
applied in wet con-
dition, could not be pre-produced, it is unlikely
that potters were involved in the sealing process.
When the sealing consists of plaster instead of
clay, it bears a different shape. Liquid plaster is
simply poured into the mouth of the amphora
and on top of the stopper.
The plaster sealing thus
covers little of the exterior of the amphora neck
and has a rather flat-looking upper part. In Egypt,
plaster sealings entirely supplanted clay sealings
from Roman times onwards.
The material com-
pared favourably to clay, since it was stronger and
less likely to shrink and/or crack while drying.
As a secure sealant, it was especially favoured for
long-distance transport.
When sealed stoppers, hermetically closing the
amphorae, had been removed, lids for standard-
ized amphorae could be used for temporary clos-
ing. Made of stone or fired clay, their purpose was
to keep the contents of the recipients away from
dust and vermin. It is, perhaps, this type of clos-
ing device that is mentioned in a papyrus from
the Zenon archive:
the potter Paesis holds a con-
Fig. 1. Sealed amphora stopper from Malkata,
attached to the severed amphora neck
(after Hope 1977, fig. 7a).
Fig. 2. Three types of clay sealings: Conical-trunk
sealing, Mushroom-shaped sealing and Convex-with-
cavity sealing (after Davoli 2005, fig. 1-3 ch. 3).
tract for 2000 ceramic lids, called πµατα, sup-
posedly for winejars.
The context of the docu-
ment seems to indicate that it was common for a
potter to produce great quantities of mould-made
standard-sized lids on demand.
Opening or pop-top devices
Since many sealed stoppers, made of either clay
or plaster, have been found stuck in the necks of
opened amphorae, we can assume that the open-
ing of vessels was sometimes problematic. As
sealings could be extremely tenacious, it was ap-
parently easier to cut off the neck of a vessel below
the level of the sealed stopper.
Some people may
have attempted to cut the sealing out of the mouth
of the amphora, though this seems to have been
a rather challenging method.
In many vessels, opening devices (commonly
called ‘pop-top devices’) have been found. These
pop-top devices usually consisted of strings which
were used to pull the sealing out of its place.
String impressions at the sides and underside of
sealings are attested at Kellia, Quseir al-Qadim,
Berenike, and Bakchias.
Different types of opening devices have been
uncovered, four of which have been established
by Bos (fig. 3).
Very common is the use of two
strings, which are crossed below the sealing and
run up its sides in four places.
Another method
involves a string fixed through a hole in both
stopper and sealing, as found in Berenike.
pieces of pottery could also be used and placed
on either side of the sealing, thereby facilitating
the opening. Lastly, we notice the use of a piece of
textile, which is put under the sealing and simul-
taneously serves as a stopper and pop-top device.
It is remarkable that hardly any pop-top devices
have been found which allow for the removal of
the stopper as well as for the sealing. Different
explanations can be given: firstly, the removal of
the stopper may be much easier than the removal
of the sealing. This may well be the case for ‘soft’
stoppers, such as wads of leaves or textile. We
cannot, however, assume that the removal of stop-
pers made of clay, wood, cork or stone was such
an easy feat. It is not unlikely that special methods
or devices for removing those did exist, though
none have been recognised or found thus far. An-
other explanation may be that after the casting of
the sealing, the stopper attaches itself firmly to
the wet clay or plaster that is put over it. In this
case, the stopper may be removed at the same
time as the sealing, and no further opening device
is required.
Pierced Sealings
From the New Kingdom period up to Roman
times, holes in sealed stoppers have been attested
throughout Egypt, quite often without any traces
of string. It thus appears that these holes did not
develop from pop-top devices, leading to various
theories concerning the purpose of these holes.
The most popular theory connects the holes
through sealed stoppers with holes in amphora
necks serving as airholes, allowing fermentation
gases to escape from wine amphorae. Wine in
Egypt was not left to ferment in wooden barrels
but stood for a period of three to thirteen days in
open amphorae, after which said amphorae were
closed and a secondary fermentation could take
place within.
It thus seems likely that a method
needed to be found to allow the carbon dioxide
from the secondary fermentation to escape, pre-
venting the amphora from breaking under its
pressure. Piercing a small hole through the (wet)
sealed stopper would have served this purpose.
Winlock, Crum and White, describing the wine
jars of the monastery of Ephiphanius at Thebes,
were first to put forward the above-mentioned
hypothesis. Their main attention, however, focuses
on the holes in the amphora necks, which were
apparently made with a metal nail after baking.
After filling the jar, they state, the hole in either
the amphora neck or the sealed stopper was to be
stopped by a wisp of straw, allowing the gases to
escape and preventing the air from entering.
Davoli, studying clay sealings from Bakchias,
equally supports the theory: holes were attested
in all 39 sealings of the Convex-with-cavity type:
18 sealings had one hole, 6 had two and 1 had
four. Only the sealings of this specific Convex-
with-cavity type were pierced, prompting the
suggestion that this type of sealing was specifi-
cally applied to wine vessels.
Other authors rejected the airhole-theory, claim-
ing that it is unsure the pierced sealings actually
belonged to winejars. Lerstrup, studying the New
Kingdom sealings of Malkata, states that no pierced
sealing at Malkata can with certainty be ascribed
Fig. 3. Four types of pop-top devices
(after Bos 2000 fig. 12-4).
to winejars, confirming Hope’s earlier conclusion.
Both authors found no satisfactory explanation
for the holes.
The airhole-theory, though seemingly plausible,
meets more obstacles: apart from the uncertainty
that pierced sealings actually belonged to wine
amphorae, it is also uncertain as to whether the
holes were really necessary to counteract the fer-
mentation effects. Since relatively few pierced seal-
ings were found in Egypt, it seems that most wine
amphorae could do without them and that fer-
mentation was handled in a different way.
sibly the porosity of the clay of the amphorae was
kept at such a level that fermentation gases could
not amass. By allowing them to escape through the
sides of the amphorae, breakage may have been
prevented. A different scenario, suggested by May-
erson, is that the amphorae were only filled up to
two-thirds, allowing extra room inside the recip-
The secondary fermentation, which takes
place inside the sealed amphorae, is at any rate
likely to be less violent than the primary fermen-
tation, limiting possible damage.
The objections discussed above may be suffi-
cient to justify rejecting the airhole-theory. Few
alternative explanations have been suggested.
Mayerson proposed that the holes were made
once the sealing was dry for the purpose of draw-
ing wine. He studied the wine amphorae from the
monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, on which
Winlock, Crum and White had previously noticed
holes in both sealings and necks.
Citing Mena-
hot 9.10 of the Talmudic Toseptha: ‘One should not
draw (wine) either from its top because of mould, or
from its bottom because of dregs. Rather, one punches
a hole in it (the jar) and draws it (the wine) from the
(top) third of it, or from its middle’,
he suggests that
such tapholes were made either in the neck or in
the sealing, in order to bypass the often-difficult
removal of the sealed stopper.
Whereas the the-
ory may well be applied to the holes in the
we do not believe that the idea is valid for
the sealings: punching a hole through the sealed
stopper may prove harder than removing the seal-
ing device. Not only was the clay or plaster very
hard to pierce, the piercing would in all probabil-
ity dislodge the stopper, causing it to fall in the
amphora and, possibly, contaminate its contents.
Neither the airhole-theory nor the taphole-
theory can successfully be applied to the pierced
sealings. However, as they appear from the period
of the New Kingdom (Malkata) up to Greco-Roman
times, the holes must have had a specific func-
tion. Perhaps piercing of vessels, containing wine
or other commodities, had a domestic use, though
it is hard to see which one.
Type and Decoration of Stamps
A large amount of the sealed stoppers from Greco-
Roman Egypt appear to have been stamped prior
to drying. As these stamps, bearing inscriptions,
illustrations or both, inform us about trade and
merchants, it is useful to present here the main
There is an essential difference between private
and commercial stamps. Private stamps are found
on sealed objects meant for personal use or small-
scale trade. They were impressed with a personal
signet ring or gem, which is rather small (ca 1.5 x
1.2 cm)
and usually oval-shaped.
Private stamps
bear an illustration (often a representation of a
deity) rather than an inscription.
A series of
Greco-Egyptian or Egyptian deities are repre-
sented on them.
The sealed stoppers closing off large, commer-
cial amphorae are rarely stamped with private
rings or gems. The mouth openings of such am-
phorae, having a diameter up to 13 cm, are sealed
and stamped with commercial stamps. Such stamps
for commercial use are larger than the private ones
(diameter ca 3 up to 8.5 cm) and most often have
a circular or rectangular shape.
Instead of being
cast with a signet ring or gem, they are impressed
with a wooden, sandstone or terracotta die, some
specimens of which have been recovered.
mercial stamps generally bear an inscription,
though combinations of text and particular illus-
trations are frequent. For instance, Thermouthis-
Renenutet, a Greco-Egyptian goddess of fertility,
is popular on Roman commercial stamps for wine
amphorae (fig. 4).
Fig. 4. Commercial stamp with the image of the god-
dess of fertility Thermouthis-Renenutet in the middle
and the name of the businessman, probably Hermeros,
in the outer circle (after Dieleman 1998, no. 19).
Most inscribed stamps from Greco-Roman Egypt
are written in Greek, though Latin inscriptions do
The inscription can be arranged in various
manners: on round stamps it is usually written in
a circular line along its outer limits, often sur-
rounding a central illustration or inscription; the
stamp can also bear a central inscription. On rec-
tangular stamps, the inscription usually covers the
entirety of the stamp, written on one or more
imaginary horizontal lines.
The letters on the dies
had to be carved in reverse, so that the imprint
would be legible. This was, however, not always
the case.
Abbreviations and monograms occur
frequently and are hard to decipher when no
additional information (from ostraka, papyri or
literature) is available.
Both inscribed and illustrated stamps could be
enhanced by paint, a practice which goes back to
- at least - the New Kingdom: red paint or wash
was occasionally used on plaster, red or white
paint or wash is found on clay. The paint high-
lighted the stamp, making it easier to read. It is
unsure whether the paint had another, additional
Stamps and Tradesmen
In the Roman West, amphorae were generally
closed with a cork bung sealed with plaster, which
could subsequently be stamped.
The producer
is apparently never named on the stamps.
the stamps contain names, they are commonly
assumed to refer to a trader (mercator or negotiator)
or shipper (navicularius).
Whereas contempt for
petty trade (mercatura) was common,
no grudges
were held against large-scale trade (negatio), pro-
vided that one used his new-found wealth to pur-
chase landed estates, and thus to become a respec-
table member of society.
The distinction between
mercatores and negotiatores was one of respectabil-
ity: whereas a mercator was primarily a ‘trader’ in
a slightly pejorative sense, negotiator was a ‘busi-
nessman’ involved in a multiplicity of economic
activities, such as large-scale overseas trade, bank-
ing and land.
Many researchers have believed this particular
situation to apply to Roman Egypt as well, bas-
ing themselves on only part of the evidence. The
papyrological evidence makes it possible to iden-
tify some of the people found on Egyptian sealed
stoppers. Here, we gather all the identifications
for the first time and present some new ones.
It is necessary to distinguish between the sealed
stoppers from clay popular in the local trade on
the one hand and sealed stoppers from plaster,
popular in the international Eastern Desert trade
on the other hand, since they seem to provide a
different type of information.
Local Trade in the Fayum area
The fertile Fayum oasis produced a large part of
the sealed stoppers that have been discovered
thus far. These are always made of clay and are
often impressed with rectangular or circular
stamps. The inscriptions are considerably abbre-
viated, even in case of personal names.
In addi-
tion, some dies used to stamping wine amphorae
have been uncovered in this area, showing the
same characteristics. Only in one dossier identifi-
cations are possible, but they are instructive.
In 3
-century Egypt large estates became com-
mon. One of the landlords was the high elite
member Aurelius Appianus, ξηγητσ, ποµνη-
µατογρφοσ and βουλευτσ of Alexandria. He had
acquired citizenship in AD 212 and owned large
properties in the Fayum and in other nomes, which
were run by managers.
In the middle of the 3
century, he possessed about twenty vineyards in
the Fayum village of Theadelphia, which were
managed by Heroninos, whose large papyrus ar-
chive provides us with crucial information.
relius Appianus was married to Aurelia Demetria,
who also owned vineyards in the Fayum located
on land she inherited from her father. Nachtergael
published several rectangular wooden stamps
recording vineyards of the rich couple, destined
to impress sealed stoppers of wine amphorae.
1. (Ετουσ) λβ Κασ(αροσ) / Χαιρεο(υ)
Year 32 of Kaisar. (Of the vineyard) of Chaireas. (= AD
2 or 3)
2. δ (τουσ) κτ(µατοσ) / Χαιρ(ου)
Year 4. Of the vineyard of Chaireas. (= ca AD 250)
3. Αρ(ηλου) κτ(µατοσ) / Κολοκ(νθων) /
(τουσ) β
Of the vineyard of Gourds belonging to Aurelius. Year
2. (= ca AD 250)
4. (Ετουσ) δ Απια(νο) / κτη(µτων) Πα(νσκου)
/ Σω(κρ).
Year 4. Of the vineyards of Paniskos and Sokras
belonging to Appianus. (= ca AD 250) (fig. 5).
5. (Ετουσ) δ Aρ(ηλου) / Απια(νο) κτ(σεωσ)
(l. κτ(σεωσ))
Year 4. Of the central holding of Aurelius Appianus.
(= ca AD 250)
6. (Ετουσ) ι Aρ(ηλασ) ∆η(µητρασ) / κτ(µατοσ)
Year 10. Of the vineyard of Spartianos belonging to
Aurelia Demetria (= ca AD 250)
7. ια (τουσ) / Ελπ(ιδηφρου)
Year 11. Of (the vineyard of) Elpidephoros (= ca AD
250) (fig. 6)
8. Ελπ(ιδηφρου)
Of (the vineyard of) Elpidephoros.
All stamps provide similar information in abbre-
viated form: generally, the name of the vineyard
and the year of produce are mentioned,
to which the name of the owner of the central
holding (κτσισ) may be added (Aurelius Appia-
nus or Aurelia Demetria).
The vineyards (κτµατα) are often named after
a person (Chaireas, Paniskos, Sokras, Elpidepho-
ros), not necessarily a living person, but rather a
previous owner. In accordance with the informa-
tion provided by the Heroninus papyrus archive,
these vineyards became part of Appianus’ or his
wife’s estate. The vineyard of Chaireas is a clear
example. Whereas stamp no 2 can be dated to
about AD 250, stamp no 1 reads ‘the 32
year of
Kaisar’ (= Augustus), that is AD 2 or 3. Nachter-
gael concludes that one and the same vineyard is
involved, which bore the name ‘of Chaireas’ dur-
ing at least three centuries.
According to the Heroninus papyrus archive
wine was the main crop on Appianus’ Fayum
estate and was for a large part marketed through
professional wine sellers of two main types: ‘small-
scale village-based oinopolai who probably had
contracts with the estate to market a set amount
of wine for it annually, and larger-scale sellers
based in [the Fayum capital] Arsinoe who proba-
bly had more open agreements with the estate’.
The above examples, however, show that the
stamps on Appianus’ amphorae stoppers refer to
the origin of the wine (the vineyard and/or estate),
not to the local merchants marketing the wine.
It is important to distinguish the information
on sealed stoppers from the Fayum area from that
on plaster sealings, most often intended for long
distance trade through the Eastern Desert, which
will be discussed in the next section.
Prominent people involved in the international Eastern
trade: their accounts and their plaster jar sealings
The international trade in Red Sea ports and along
the Eastern desert routes connecting the Nile to
the Red Sea, is well documented. Archaeological
remains, inscriptions, papyri and ostraka provide
valuable information. Inscribed plaster jar seal-
ings, on the other hand, are often neglected.
Sidebotham included them in his study Roman
Economic Policy in the Erythra Thalassa in 1986, but
more stoppers have come to light and new iden-
tifications add to the picture. This part focuses on
some rich business men involved in the Eastern
trade who appear on plaster stoppers and/or
hold an account (λγοσ) according to papyrolog-
ical and inscriptional evidence.
Several ostraka from the Julio-Claudian period
testify to the transport of merchandise from Kop-
tos to the Red Sea, and vice versa, by firms, such
as that of Nikanor.
These transport-firms work
‘for the account (εσ τν λγον)’ of an individual,
pass the customs house gates and deliver the
goods to the individual’s agents in a Red Sea port
or at Koptos. Fuks described the account (λγοσ)-
holders as ‘big businessmen’, who ‘do not reside
in the far-away ports of the Red Sea (...) but carry
on their business entirely through agents’.
Twenty-six such businessmen/account-holders
(with a legible name) are thus far attested in the
further names found on plaster sealings
may be added to the list, as at least two of them
are to be identified with account-holders recorded
in ostraka (Gaius Norbanus Ptolemaios and Gaius
Iulius Epaphroditos, see below).
This brings the
total to thirty-six businessmen.
The close relationship between the business-
men from the ostraka and those on the jar sealings
may be revealed by an example. The transporter
Herakles presents at a customs house in the East-
ern desert region four jars of the type κοιλπωµα
with Italian wine, the sealings of which contain
Fig. 5. Wooden stamp recording the vineyards from
where the wine originated (compare Nachtergael 2000,
no. 2).
Fig. 6. Whereas the name of the vineyard remained, the
year of produce changed every year. In this respect
stamp no 7 referring to the vineyard of Elpidephoros
is worth describing: it consists of two wooden plates
fixed to a handle. One plate records the vineyard’s
name, the other one the year of produce. The latter had
to be changed every year, the former could remain in
place (after Nachtergael 2000, nos 7-8).
the name of the businessman Gaius Iulius Epa-
phroditos; such a plaster sealing has been found
at Koptos, recording:
Of Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos, year 5.’ (? AD 18/19)
(fig. 8)
To prove that the customs-dues have been paid,
the transporter presents the ostrakon O.Beren. I 84
century AD), describing what the toll collec-
tor sees before him:
‘Herakles son of Hermias [transports] 4 koilopomata of
Italian wine for the account of Gaius Iulius Epaphro-
ditos, for outfitting [that is the wine has to be shipped
and to be exported to the East].’
The ostrakon has been found at the Red Sea port
of Berenike, where it was left behind after the
wine was shipped.
Who were these businessmen/account-hold-
ers? Apart from one or two exceptions, Fuks (in
1951) and Raschke (in 1978) considered them non-
but more recent and new identifications
prove otherwise; for eleven of the thirty-six busi-
nessmen an identification may be proposed.
On the basis of their nomenclature, these busi-
nessmen are usually divided into ‘Romans, Greeks
and hellenized (some of them Roman citizens,
some freedmen) Egyptians’.
We prefer another
* the first group consists of businessmen, belong-
ing to the upper classes, who have contacts
with Alexandria and even Italy or the imperial
family. They own landed property and may be
appointed to high posts;
* the second group represents the local, Egyptian
* the third group consists of (probably small)
businessmen originating from Eastern regions
such as South Arabia. They operate at the East-
ern frontier of Egypt and call themselves mer-
chants (µποροσ).
The top layer of society and trade in wine and
The first group, representing the top layer of soci-
ety in Roman Egypt, is the largest one. The very
highest echelon of participants in trade is repre-
sented by highly placed equestrians and other
nobles appointed to high posts. Some rich and
highly respected imperial freedmen may also be
counted to the top layer of Egyptian society.
The identification by Fuks of the (a) account-
holder Marcus Iulius Alexander (AD 37-43/44) has
been generally accepted.
Marcus was born in
one of the richest and most respected families of
Alexandrian Jews and was a nephew of the philo-
sopher Philo. His brother Tiberius Iulius Alexan-
der was epistrategos of the Thebaid (that is Upper
Egypt) in the period when Marcus had commer-
cial interests at the Eastern frontier and later
became Egyptian prefect. His father Alexander
Iulius Alexander was arabarch, in charge of the
customs-dues in the Eastern desert (see below)
Fig. 7. Map of Egypt (by B. Van Beek).
Fig. 8. Plaster sealing mentioning the businessman
Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos (Cuvigny 1998, no 7).
and, as stressed by Rathbone, he had close links
with the imperial family and had banking facilities
in Italy (Puteoli).
Marcus married the daughter
of King Herod Agrippa I and died in AD 44.
The list of prominent people engaged in the
Eastern trade, is to be extended with two examples
of arabarchs who combine their important func-
tion with commerce in the same region. Arab-
archs, who were in charge of customs-dues on the
Eastern frontier, were as a rule extremely rich.
(b) Two plaster stoppers
record the name of
Claudius Aniketos (fig. 9): the centre part has the
name in Latin, written in the form of a cross:
Cl[audi] Anice[ti], the outer circle mentions the
name in Greek characters: Κλαυδ(ου) Ανικτου,
followed by αραβ, undoubtedly an abbreviation
for ραβ(ρχου), and not for a personal name as
suggested by the editor. An Aniketos son of Kom-
monos, slave of the emperor Tiberius, is well-
attested in the ostraka of the Eastern Desert region
(AD 33-34) personally carrying on commercial
activities there (that is without agents);
he may
be the same Aniketos who was tutor to Nero and
was freed by him.
An identification with the
arabarch Claudius Aniketos is tempting but can-
not be proved at this point.
(c) The traces of a damaged plaster stopper from
fit the name of Α π
ου followed
by αρ.., which could refer to the arabarch
Apollonios, son of the arabarch Ptolemaios, attested
in AD 2 and 41. Apollonios was also strategos of
the Ombite nome and of the region of Elephantine
and Philae.
P. Annius Plokamos
held, according to Pliny,
the post of arabarch during the early reign of Clau-
dius (NH 6.84: qui maris Rubri vectigal fisco rede-
merat). He is not yet identified as account-holder
in the ostraka or as businessman on plaster stop-
pers, and therefore, has not yet been added to our
list, but other evidence suggests that Annius was
involved in the Eastern trade on the one hand and
that he had Puteolan roots on the other; he may
have been (descended from) a freedman of the
Italian Annii.
Not only arabarchs were involved in Eastern
trade. (d) Gaius Norbanus Ptolemaios is account-
holder according to ostraka (AD 36-41) and is
found on three plaster stoppers from Koptos (1
century AD).
Independently, Rathbone (with
reservations) and Cuvigny (convincingly)
tified him as the Gaius Norbanus Ptolemaios who
was iuridicus and idioslogos in AD 63 and who
owned properties in, at least, the Hermopolite
nome (AD 60-65). Rathbone adds that ‘the Iuri-
dicus and the Idios Logos were both Equestrian
posts, very rarely held simultaneously by the
same man, and neither normally held by an in-
habitant of the province; the implication is that this
Gaius Norbanus Ptolemaeus was well-known and
trusted at Nero’s Court’.
Three businessmen recorded in the ostraka may
have been imperial freedmen, as already pointed
out by Fuks in 1951;
the plaster sealings confirm
the trend with six further examples:
one plaster
sealing explicitly mentions Σεβ(αστο) πελε-
θεροσ, meaning ‘imperial freedman’, alongside
the personal name
and the predominance of the
nomen Claudius may be significant. In Egypt, espe-
cially in the Fayum, imperial freedmen were often
in charge of imperial estates. These freedmen some-
times invested in land; their property was passed
to their master upon their death and became part
of the imperial patrimonium. The ostraka and plas-
ter sealings show they also invested in commerce,
especially in wine,
in our view for their own
Besides the Claudius Aniketos (mentioned a-
bove), who became arabarch, some further identi-
fications of freedmen are possible. (e) Gaius Iulius
Epaphroditos, attested as account-holder in eight
ostraka from Berenike concerning wine trade
(Julio-Claudian period)
is undoubtedly identi-
cal with Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos on a plaster
stopper from Koptos. If he were a freedman him-
self, he was freed by Augustus and the year 5
recorded on his plaster stopper would then refer
to AD 18/19. The stopper may have closed a wine
amphora. According to the Berenike ostraka, he
dealt in foreign wine (from Italy and from Syrian
and used for the Italian wine, among
others, a type of jar called κοιλπωµα (hollow-lid-
ded), which puzzled the editors.
In our view, a
western type of jar used in the 1
centuries AD
and exported to the East, may be involved, having
a small mouth and closed with a hollow lid hav-
ing the shape of a small jar itself: this lid, fixed in
the jar’s mouth with plaster, contained a sample
of the wine, which made it possible to taste the
wine without opening the jar; the hollow lid had
Fig. 9. Plaster
sealing mentioning
the arab(arch)
Claudius Aniketos
(after Milne 1905,
no 33014).
to be closed with a stopper as well.
The κοιλο-
πµατα, found for the first time in the Berenike
ostraka, may also be mentioned in a damaged
line of O. Petrie 276 from Koptos.
(f) Tiberius Claudius Serapion, account-holder
according to an ostrakon from Koptos (between
AD 41-68),
may be identified as the freedman
Tiberius Claudius Serapion who owned an estate
in the Fayum which became part of the imperial
patrimonium in AD 55 at the latest.
(g) A plas-
ter stopper from Koptos contains the name Cresti,
‘of Crestus’, according to Reinach, but the stopper
has disappeared. If Reinach’s reading is correct,
the stopper may refer to the freedman Χρστοσ
(Crestus in Latin), whose Mendesian estate was
incorporated in the imperial patrimonium.
The above list of businessmen of the Roman
and Greek upper class and of successful imperial
freedmen shows that Raschke was right in dis-
missing the view that the merchants of Antiquity
were men of no social consequence, who ‘left the
commercial origins of their wealth behind when
they purchased landed estates, the only socially
acceptable form of wealth, and moved into the
municipal or imperial governing class’.
There is
indeed a close relationship between (landed)
wealth and commercial capital. But the business-
men were not non-entities, as suggested by Rasch-
ke for most of them. They (or close family mem-
bers of them) were appointed to high posts, linking
them with Alexandria, or, as Rathbone already
suggested for three of them, with Italy (especially
Puteoli) and even the imperial family. In this re-
spect it is revealing to track the commodities they
trade in: Fuks and Ruffing
emphasized the pre-
dominance of wheat in the ostraka from Koptos,
but when the first group of important business-
men alone is taken into account, it is clear that
wine and pharmakon is their main export prod-
the predominance of plaster amphora seal-
ings for this group adds to the picture. Of major
interest is the trade of foreign wine, among oth-
ers Italian wine. For some individuals a link with
Italy may be shown, suggesting export from Italy
to the East through Egypt’s Red Sea ports.
The identification of Gaius Norbanus Ptole-
maios (see (d)) and Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos
(see (e)) indicates that the men named on the
plaster amphora sealings in the Eastern Desert
region were businessmen exporting or importing
foreign and local wine. The question whether
they are producers or traders may be answered:
they were traders, but in some cases they were
undoubtedly producers as well, as the local wine
may have come from their estates in Egypt.
The trade in especially wine, but also in phar-
makon and other products contrasts with the
wheat which appears to be the only commodity
dealt in by the next group.
Local Egyptian aristocracy and wheat trade
The second group of businessmen is represented
by the local aristocratic families. Apart from (part-
ly hellenized) Egyptian individuals, at least one
aristocratic priestly family was engaged in private
trading. (h) Paminis son of Parthenios and his sons
Paniskos and Psenpnouthis are account-holders
according to several ostraka (AD 25-41).
and a third son Parthenios also appear on inscrip-
tions from Koptos (AD 21/22-32).
refers to the Greek inscriptions and underestimates
the Egyptian, priestly origin of the family.
Greek inscriptions, however, are inscribed on
hieroglyphic stelai with offering scenes in Egyptian
style and the dossier of stelai has been extended
by Farid with several hieroglyphic and/or Demo-
tic pieces,
the total amounting to more than
twenty monuments.
Paminis’ son Parthenios
appears to be p3 rwd n Is.t (‘representative of Isis’)
or προσττησ of Isis, the great goddess, at Koptos;
as prostates he headed the Koptos temple as an
economic unit, was responsible for or participated
in several building activities through the reigns of
Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero and prob-
ably collected local taxes for the temple.
For this local aristocratic family no direct link
with Alexandria or Italy is apparent or expected.
It is conspicuous that Paminis’ family enterprise
deals in wheat only, which is destined for con-
sumption at the Red Sea ports rather than for
export, as, of course, no wheat was cultivated
there. Also the other account-holders bearing an
Egyptian name,
only deal in wheat. As a con-
sequence, we do not expect to find jar sealings of
these account-holders.
Businessmen with Eastern roots and wine trade
The third group of businessmen, those who have
Eastern roots, is badly represented, as only one
identification has been made. The account-holder
(i) Hermeros son of Athenion attested at Koptos
(AD 57),
describes himself in an inscription
from the same town (9 Aug. AD 70) as a merchant
(µποροσ), originating from Adana (Arabia, mod-
ern Aden).
The ostrakon testifies to the export
to the East of wine in πτολεµαικ, a type of Egyp-
tian wine jars.
A second µποροσ from Adana
may be found in another Greek inscription, but
his name is lost. The Palmyrene merchants active
in the region and forming some type of trading
may belong to this third group of
The identification of individuals recorded on stamps
of Roman Egypt shows that a distinction should be
made between local and international trade. Local
trade: the Fayum oasis produced several amphora
sealings made of clay and stamped with consid-
erably abbreviated inscriptions. According to some
wooden dies used to impress such amphora seal-
ings, the abbreviations refer to names of vine-
yards or estates, that is to the origin of wine which
is meant for local trade. This practice undoubted-
ly goes back to the Pharaonic period, where clay
amphora sealings recorded the product and the
producing institution.
International trade: an-
other picture emerges from the amphora sealings
from the Eastern Desert region, where the major-
ity of the stamps is made of plaster and contains
names of individuals which are usually not abbre-
viated (except for the praenomen). The identifica-
tions of these individuals with the help of papy-
rological and inscriptional evidence show that the
stamps do not refer to the origin of the product,
but to businessmen involved in international trade.
These businessmen (or their close family mem-
bers) had affinities with the Eastern Desert. The
group of small businessmen with Eastern roots
resided at least part of the time at Koptos, where
they erected stelai; they may be compared to the
mercatores of the Roman West. The businessmen of
Egypt’s upper classes (or close family members),
combining (landed) wealth and commercial cap-
ital, did not reside at the Eastern Desert frontier,
but were arabarchs in charge of customs-dues
there or held an official post such as epistrategos
of the Thebaid or strategos of nomes in Upper
Egypt, near the Eastern Desert. It is striking that
arabarchs and (epi)strategoi or their family mem-
bers were allowed to have commercial interests
in the region under their supervision. Apparently,
a public career was no impediment to private gain.
In addition, some of these big businessmen were
linked not only with Alexandria, but also with
Italy and even the imperial family. They may be
compared to the negotiatores of the Roman West.
* We would like to thank F. Burkhalter, W. Clarysse, C.
Crossan, H. Cuvigny, P. Davoli and D. Rathbone for
several useful suggestions.
Egloff 1977, 180.
Hope 1977, 14. The descriptions of Hope concern the
amphora stoppers found in and around the New
Kingdom temple complex at Malkata. They may prove
to be of use for the Greco-Roman typology.
Davoli 2005, 103-104.
Cork stoppers are commonly found in the West of the
Mediterranean, but are rather rare in Egypt, see
Cashman 1999, 285-286. Bos 2000, 275 mentions a large
amount of cork stoppers found during the 1998 exca-
vation season at the Red Sea port of Berenike.
The most common stopper material in the West seems
to have been cork and wet clay. Fired clay, pieces cut
from amphorae and tiles and metal could apparently
also be used as stoppers. Parker 1992, 50, 70, 74, 91, 98,
101, 104-105, 114, 183, 238-239, 254, 264, 288-289, 300-
301, 313, 331, 348, 413, 439.
Davoli 2005, 101.
Davoli 2005, 101. Colin Hope, when writing about the
New Kingdom sealings of Malkata, made a distinction
between Cap Shaped sealings, Domed sealings and
Cylindrical sealings. According to him, Cap Shaped
sealings are the smallest sealings, covering the mouth
and part of the neck of the amphora. Their top can be
flat or rounded and the width of the sealing is greatest
at the top. Domed sealings are larger; they can be sub-
divided into Round Domed, Tapering Domed, and Flat-
tened Domed, according to the shape of the top. The
width of these sealings is usually greatest at the bottom.
Cylindrical sealings are even larger, entirely covering
the neck of the amphora and resting on its shoulders.
The top of Cylindrical sealings can be flat or convex,
and the sides inclined, straight or bulging. Although
the classification of Hope is to be applied first and fore-
most on New Kingdom sealings, it may prove valuable
for sealings of later date, see Hope 1977, 26-27.
Davoli 2005, 101.
Mould-made sealings, very popular in the Old, Middle
and New Kingdom, went out of use before the Hel-
lenistic period. They are created by using an open-ended
mould, with a flat top and cylindrical sides, or with a
round, tapering or conical top and slightly battered
sides. The wet clay is pressed into the mould, which is
subsequently put onto the neck of the amphora and
forced down to encase it. A stopper is already present
in the neck of the amphora. The excess clay is forced out
of the mould and trimmed off. The bottom of the seal-
ing is cut off after removal of the mould. The mould-
made sealings are more regular than the hand-made
ones, with smooth sides and top. As is the case for hand-
made sealings, the stopper is most often displaced
deeper into the amphora neck, where it still prevents
contamination from the wet mud. Stamps are impressed
while the clay is still moist. Both in the case of hand-
made and mould-made sealings, reinforcing bands of
papyrus, reed or rope can be applied to the rim or neck
of the amphorae before sealing, see Hope 1977, 6-7.
Clay sealings obviously remained unfired, since they
were applied in wet condition to a full jar or amphora.
Hope 1977, 10, 31. Double sealings, as found on the New
Kingdom site at Malkata, are the result of excessive
shrinkage: when a sealing did shrink during drying, a
new (often quite distinct) one was applied over it.
By determining the origin of the clay, the approximate
production site may also be established, see Hope 1977,
Hope 1977, 10.
See infra, note 15.
Theories that plaster sealings were pre-produced and
lowered into the jar while still soft, cannot be entirely
refuted, but seem unlikely. Johnson 1979, 233; see also
Sundelin 1996, 298-299.
Plaster had already become the most widespread seal-
ing material in the West before breaking through in
Roman Egypt, see Sundelin 1996, 298.
Sealings with plaster were considered ‘secure’ accord-
ing to various papyri from Greco-Roman Egypt, see
Vandorpe 2005, 165.
Montet 1946, 109.
P.Cair.Zen. III 59481 (see PSI IV 441); compare Vandorpe
2005, 163.
Mayerson 2001, 217; see also Peacock/Williams 1986, 51.
A different type of closing device equally needs to be
mentioned: the small flask-like vessel or koilopoma,
which was supposed to contain a sample of the
amphora contents (see below, with note 93). Not all
researchers agree on its being a sealing/stopper (it is
unclear whether an extra stopper was applied below
the bottle, the koilopoma probably was both stopper and
sealing in one); some claim it to be neither and consider
it an unguent bottle, see Peacock/Williams 1986, 51.
Whitcomb/Johnson 1982, 263.
Egloff 1977, 180; see also Johnson 1979, 233-234; Sun-
delin 1996, 298-299; Dieleman 1998, 265; Cashman 1999,
289; Bos 2000, 278-279, 302; Davoli 2000, 144; Davoli
2005, 104.
Bos 2000, 278-279.
At Quseir al-Qadim Johnson (1979, 233) assumed that
these strings had been used to lower the still soft plas-
ter stopper into place. This, however, seems unlikely.
Sundelin 1996, 299.
Lerstrup 1992, 66-75.
Bos 2000, 278.
Winlock/Crum/White 1926, 79.
Davoli 2005, 102.
Lerstrup 1992, 73-74; see also Hope 1977, 7.
Again, we must not forget that many pierced amphora
sealings did not belong to wine amphorae.
Mayerson cites Menahot 9.10 of the Talmudic Toseptha:
‘One ought not to fill a jar up to its top (literally, to its
mouth) but only up to two-thirds of it, so that its fumes
(or aroma) can diffuse.’ Mayerson 2001, 219-220. We
have no information on whether this practice was ever
applied in Egypt.
Winlock/Crum/White 1926, 79.
Mayerson 2001, 219-220.
Davoli (2005, 104) notes that techniques, as described
above in the Toseptha, have never been attested in Egypt,
neither in written sources nor in depictions.
It is not unlikely that one would bypass the difficult
opening by simply making a hole in the amphora neck,
which could easily be closed with wax or with any
other material afterwards.
Studied in detail by Vandorpe 2005.
Larger rings or gems (2.5 x 3 cm) are rare, see Vandorpe
2005, 166. Davoli reports the use of a 7
-century BC
scarab as a die in Bakchias; similar scarabs have been
used in Edfu, see Davoli 2000, 154-155.
Vandorpe 2005, 166.
‘Man’s religious partialities influence the choice of a
signet ring’, see Milne 1906, 38.
Most of them are found in a non-commercial context,
such as the cellars of private houses in Karanis (Milne
1906). In this Fayum village, a great variety of private
stamps were found, of small dimension and dating to
the middle of the 2
century AD. E.g. ‘Bust of Sarapis
to right, crowned with modius: behind, bust of Isis to
right, crowned with horns and plumes: before, bust of
hawk-headed Horus to left, crowned with modius’
(Milne 1906, 11).
Davoli 2005, 104.
Vandorpe 2005, 168; Nachtergael 2000, 155.
Nachtergael 2000, 153. Latin inscriptions are frequent
in the Byzantine period.
Stamps on jars destined for local trade can be less
neatly arranged than those on jars for long-distance
transport. For this last category, it was obviously
deemed important to have stamps of a good and legi-
ble quality, see Vandorpe 2005, 168.
See Nachtergael 2000, 155, for examples from the Fayum
village of Theadelpheia.
Monograms are increasingly popular in the Copto-
Byzantine period, see Vandorpe 2005, 168.
Vandorpe 2005, 172.
Aubert 1994, 269.
Aubert 1994, 273.
Paterson 1982, 156; Tchernia 1986, 119.
In contrast, small-scale trade of surplus produce was
never considered inappropriate in Rome, see D’Arms
1981, 5.
Cic. De Off. 1.151; D’Arms 1981, 23.
D’Arms 1981, 24-26.
Vandorpe 2005, 170.
Rathbone 1991, 15-23. The Theadelphia vineyards only
made up a small part of Appianus’ estate in the Arsi-
noite nome.
Rathbone 1991.
Rathbone 1991, 38.
Nachtergael 2000, 156-161, nos 1-6. For the convenience
of seeing likenesses between the various dies, their
inscriptions are here listed together.
In stamp no 5 the name of the vineyard is lacking.
The above-mentioned dies are all rectangular and made
of wood (tamaris wood). They measure 7.5 to 10 cm
long, 4.5. to 5 cm wide and 3.2 to 5 cm high. The plate
they are made of can be 1 to 1.65 cm thick. They gen-
erally bear a handle and are neatly carved, though not
all of them are carved in reverse. Dies nos 1 and 2 date
from the same year and seem to be made by the same
hand, see Nachtergael 2000, 155, 158.
Nachtergael 2000, 157.
Rathbone 1991, 278-306, esp. 287.
Plaster jar sealings have been discovered at Berenike,
Quseir al-Qadim, Maximianon, Krokodilo and Koptos,
see Vandorpe 2005, 163, n. 1.
O.Petrie 220-304 (found at Koptos) and O.Beren. I and
II (found at Berenike).
Fuks 1951, 207-216.
Fuks 1951, 209; thus, three levels may be discerned: the
absentee businessmen (holding an account), their resi-
dent-agents (collecting the commodities from the trans-
porters) and the transporters.
See Fuks 1951, 210-211 and n. 25: ‘Only λγοσ-holders
represented by agents and connected with the firm of
Nicanor are taken into account.’ To the list of Fuks of
25 businessmen, one more logos-holder, not connected
to the transport firm of Nikanor, is to be added: Gaius
Iulius Epaphroditos, attested in O.Beren. I 80-85 and
O.Beren. II 147-148; it is not clear whether Tiberius
Claudius Dorion is a logos-holder as well (O.Beren. I 50-
67 passim and see pp. 5-6).
Only the legible names are incorporated: Apollonios ar..
(?arabarch), Barbarion, Claudius Aniketos arab(arch),
Clau(dius) Hermo[?ke]rdon, Tiberius Claudius Serenus,
Chrestos, Titus Flavius [ ]allis, Herm[?eros], Gaius Iulius
Epaphroditos, Ker.... imperial freedman, Gaius Norba-
nus Ptolemaios, Primus L. Titus.
Raschke 1978, 604-1378, esp. 644; Young 2001, 60, briefly
discusses three businessmen of high rank.
Fuks 1951, 210; compare Sidebotham 1986, 84.
Fuks 1951; Raschke 1978, 644, 646 and n. 804-807 and
871-872; Rathbone 1983, 88-89; Sidebotham 1986, 84-85;
Burkhalter 1999; Young 2001, 60.
Rathbone 1983, 89.
Burkhalter 1999.
Milne 1905, no. 33014 and 33015 = SB I 960: Κλαυδ(ου)
Ανικτου Αραβ(). The two plaster sealings are of un-
known origin, but all inscribed plaster sealings known
thus far originate from the Eastern desert region.
O.Petrie 238 and 239 (AD 33-34).
589; Sidebotham 1986, 89.
Cuvigny 1998, no. 5: ].ι
υ.ναc.[(with photograph).
Burkhalter 1999, 51 (no 2).
Raschke 1978, 644; D’Arms 1981, 166 and n. 79; Rathbone
1983, 88; Burkhalter 1999, 51-52 (no 4); Young 2001, 60.
Rathbone 1983, 88.
Sidebotham 1986, 84.
Rathbone 1983, 89; Rathbone’s reservation is partly due
to an incorrect reading of G. Norbanus’ name in the
ostraka (without the cognomen Ptolemaios). Cuvigny
1998, 3-4, corrected the reading of O.Petrie 257 Γα  ο υ
Νορβανο ..ο.......... into Γαου Νορβανο Πτολε
λγο(ν) (checked by Cuvigny on the original).
Rathbone 1983, 89.
Tiberius Claudius Agathokles and Tiberius Claudius
Theodoros, Tiberius Claudius Serapion: see Fuks 1951,
210; see also Raschke 1978, n. 889; Sidebotham 1986, 89-
91 and O.Beren. I, 27.
Claudius Aniketos arab(arch), Clau(dius) Hermo[?ke]r-
don (the editor read: Hermo[ ..]rdon), Tiberius Claudius
Serenus, Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos, Ker.... Imperial
freedman, Titus Flavius [ ]allis.
Whitcomb/Johnson 1979, pl. 75e.
Tiberius Claudius Agathokles and Tiberius Claudius The-
odoros dealt in wine (kept in koilopomata, see below),
wheat and pharmakon (O. Petrie 275-276). The above-
mentioned plaster sealings recording imperial freed-
men may have closed wine jars.
According to some researchers they work, on the con-
trary, for the benefit of their patron. In this case they
were at the head of an imperial estate and functioned
as agent of the emperor, responsible for selling the pro-
duce. Compare Bagnall, in Whitcomb/Johnson 1979,
O.Beren. I no 80-85; O.Beren. II no 147-148; see O.Beren.
I , 6 (group E) and 27.
O.Beren. I, 16-20; O.Beren. II 147-148; for ‘Laodicean’
wine as a genuine import from Syrian Laodicea, see
Rathbone 1983, 84-87.
O.Beren. I, 23, with reference to a jar with a concave lid
found at Deir el-Gizaz, see Di Bitonto Kasser/Doresse
1996, 110-111 (9m), with photograph; this type of jar
with a very large mouth, is, however, not suitable for
far transports.
See Rakob 1990, 118-119, pl. 23, 54; examples found in
Tunisia and Turkey are kept at the Allard Pierson
Museum at Amsterdam, see the catalogue De Oudheid
verpakt, Voorhout 1997, pl. 122.
Ll. 4-5: the ed. has ονου . . . . ε
ι . κ . . . . πωµ . δο.
O.Petrie 297.
Parassoglou 1978, 52 and 81 no 25.
Parassoglou 1978, 78 no 14.
Raschke 1978, 645.
Fuks 1951, 212; Ruffing 1993, 1-26.
Wine, alongside pharmakon, oil, wheat and some other
Apollonios (see above, identification (c)): plaster jar
Tiberius Claudius Agathokles & Theodoros (O.Petrie
275, 276): pharmakon, wheat and wine (in koilopomata,
not read by the editor)
Claudius Aniketos (see above, identification (b)): plas-
ter jar sealing
Tiberius Claudius(?) Serenus (Cuvigny 1998, no 4):
plaster jar sealing
Cornelius (O.Petrie 227, 246): wine jars and anise
Aulus Gabinius Eudaimon (O.Petrie 225): pharmakon
Titus Flavius [. . ]allis (Johnson 1979, pl. 75h): plaster
jar sealing
Marcus Iulius Alexander (O.Petrie 252, 266, 267, 271,
282): different kind of products and wheat
Gaius Iulius Epaphroditos (see above, identification
(e)): foreign wine in ostraka and plaster jar sealings
Lucius Iulius Ph... (O.Petrie 261): wine
Marcus Laelius Hymenaios (O.Petrie 240): foreign wine
Macro (O.Petrie 268, 270): wine
Gaius Norbanus Ptolemaios (O.Petrie 244; 257 + Cu-
vigny 1998 (instead of BL 5), see above, identification
(d)): pharmakon, other products in ostraka and plaster
jar sealings.
?Primus L. Titus (Cuvigny 1998, 2): plaster jar sealing
Paminis son of Parthenios (O.Petrie 228, 229, 231, 248,
249); Paniskos son of Paminis (O.Petrie 255 + BL 5, 256,
?230, ?262); Psenpnouthis son of Paminis son of
Parthenios (O.Petrie 233, 250).
For the identification, see Bingen 1984, 360-361.
Sidebotham 1986, 84; he only mentions Parthenios, but
also his father Paminis is found in an inscription: SB V
8811 = Bernand 1977, no 78a: dedication of a peribolos
to Isis, Harpokrates and Pan by Paminis son of Parthe-
nios, and his son Parthenios in AD 21/22.
Farid 1988, 13-65; see also Depauw, in Willems/
Clarysse 2000, 248-249 (catalogue no 170-171).
The entire dossier of stelai (Greek-hieroglyphic and De-
motic) has recently been re-edited by Vleeming 2001,
no 179-202.
Farid 1988; Traunecker 1992, 330-331; Depauw, in Wil-
lems/Clarysse 2000, 248-249.
Mo.itios son of Petasmephis (O.Petrie 277); Porieuthos
son of Kastor (O.Petrie 269, 284).
O.Petrie 287; see BL 7 for the reading of the father’s name.
Wagner 1976 = Bernand 1984, no 65.
See O.Beren. I, p. 21.
Sidebotham 1986, 95-96.
Vandorpe 2005, 169.
BL, O.Beren., O.Petrie, P.Cair.Zen., PSI, SB:
for editions of papyri and ostraka, we refer to:
Oates, J.F./R.S. Bagnall/Sarah J. Clackson 2001 (5),
Checklist of Editions of Greek, Latin, Demotic and Coptic
papyri, Ostraca and Tablets (Bulletin of the American
Society of Papyrologists 9), New York, unless specifi-
cally stated otherwise.
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... This paper gives an overview of sealing practices in Greco-Roman Egypt (third century BCE through the third century CE) 1 departing from the multiple functions of sealings (Vandorpe 1996(Vandorpe , 2002(Vandorpe , 2005Denecker and Vandorpe 2007). In each section, special attention is paid to innovations introduced by the Ptolemies and the Romans. ...
... Do the seals of the Roman commercial amphoras in Egypt bear the names of their trader or shipper, as assumed for the Roman West? We should distinguish between local trade in the Fayyum and the international Eastern trade (Vandorpe 2005;Denecker and Vandorpe 2007). ...
... The use of cork as stoppers is traced back to the ancient Romans; in fact, in the Greek and Roman world, it was customary to use it for the closure of amphorae (Denecker and Vandorpe 2007). ...
Full-text available
Micro-agglomerate corks, made by agglutination of cork granulate through the addition of different adhesives, represent an important slice of the market of cork stoppers. Binder glues which are polyurethane-or butadiene-based have been used since they have strong agglomerating effect. Unfortunately, polyurethane-based glues can have isocyanide end group compounds which can migrate into the wine. 2,4-toluene diisocyanate (2,4-TDI) and 2,6 toluene diisocyanate (2,6-TDI), can be found in adhesive and could migrate into wine. A simple ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/ MS) method for the determination of these active ingredients ( in wine has been developed. The method has been validated under Eurachem CITAC guidelines (Cooperation on International Traceability in Analytical Chemistry). Instrument limit of detection (LOD) and to a limit of quantification (LOQ) for 2,6 TDI and 2,4 TDI were 0.42 and 0.39 μg/L, and 1.72 and 1.57 μg/L, respectively. Four different solvents applied for recoveries showed quite different rates ranging for 2,6 TDI and 2,4 TDI from 17.96 to 88.53 %, and 40.08 to 99.18 %, respectively. Real sample analysis showed low residue levels, especially of 2,6 TDI, with values always below the LOQ. The data reported on real samples allowed to establish that from a risk management purpose, no toxicology risk can be accomplished.
Ongoing excavations of the Maʻagan Mikhael B shipwreck have revealed the largest maritime cargo assemblage of Byzantine and Early Islamic ceramics discovered along the Israeli coast to date. Dated between the mid-7th and the mid-8th century CE, the nearly 20-metre-long shipwreck has yielded a cargo of various types of amphorae, including the Late Roman amphora (LRA) types LR 1, LR 2/globular amphorae, LR 4, and LR 5, several bearing inscriptions or dipinti. Some of the jars had stoppers of leather, stone and ceramic, and contained remains of various preserved foodstuffs. The significance of the cargo amphorae is relevant to the discussion of maritime trade networks during the late 7th and early 8th centuries in the Palestinian region, specifically, the information on inter-regional contacts and exchange during the transitional period between the Byzantine and Islamic eras.
The Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project (MTAP) investigates the settlement inconclusively identified as ancient Stryme in its evolving regional, political, economic, and cultural contexts. This article outlines the project goals, summarizes prior archaeological activity at the site, and presents the results of the first season. Geophysical survey provided new data on the city's grid plan, while excavation uncovered Classical roads and structures, an enigmatic circular feature, and a 20th-century war trench. Late Roman structures were identified at the site for the first time. This article proposes a new chronology for the city, examines the changing scope of its economic activity, and discusses its decline and later reoccupation. Preliminary catalogues of amphoras and coins accompany the report.
This study focuses on the actors of long-distance trade between Rome and Egypt, questioning the pertinence of “trader élite” as a concept for the merchants milieu of the Roman world during Republican and Imperial periods. It is based on a wide range of evidence, including Greek and Latin inscriptions, papyri, ostraka and literary testimonies, available from Egyptian and Campanian contexts from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD. In a first place, the author studies the geographical origins and the juridical status of trade actors. Then, she focuses on the functions of these actors in commercial transactions and on professional titles related to them, according to three functional categories, which are conceived as not immutable categories. Finally, she pays attention to the different forms of merchants’ self-representations in municipal as in provincial contexts, aiming to shed light on merchant’s social mobility
The spectacular ruins of such places as Palmyra and Petra bear witness to the wealth and power which could be derived from the silks, spices and incense of the east. Such goods were highly prized in the Roman Empire, and merchants were ready to face the perils of deserts, oceans, warfare and piracy to meet the demand for their wares. But exactly how did the trade in luxury goods operate, and to whose benefit? Gary K. Young's study offers unprecedented coverage of the major trading regions of Egypt, Arabia, Palmyra, and Syria, with detailed analysis of the routes used and of the roles of all the participants. He looks closely at the influence of the commerce in eastern goods both on the policy of the Roman imperial government, and upon local communities in the East itself. His findings contradict the standard view that the imperial government had a strong political interest in the eastern trade; rather its primary concern was the tax income the trade brought in. He also demonstrates the need for greater recognition of the efforts made by local authorities to exploit the trade to their own advantage. Incorporating the considerable archaeological research that has been undertaken in recent years, this comprehensive survey provides fresh insight into an important aspect of the eastern Roman Empire.
‘Le salut, pour l'histoire économique de l'antiquité, ne peut venir que de la mer’—heady talk, but typical of its time. It may well be that the decade of the’ 70s will come to be seen as the high summer of amphorae studies and it is, perhaps, no accident that such great claims have been made in a report on a wreck at Port-Vendres which is closely dated by the stamps on a remarkable series of ingots and also has an exceptional series of painted inscriptions on the amphorae of the cargo. Few wrecks have produced information of such quality.