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The study of Khor Rori amphorae

The amphorae of Roman times discovered at the Khor Rori site and studied under the supervision of Prof. Clementina Panella of the La Sapienza University of Rome, are particularly interesting because they enable us to analyse ceramics, widespread throughout the Mediterranean, in areas far from where they were produced, and far from the usual trade routes.
The project sets out to identify the flows of trade of the port of Sumhuram in ancient times, focusing in particular on imports from the Mediterranean of which these amphorae are the clearest example.
Indeed, they highlight how far flung the trade of the city of Khor Rori was, and also identify which parts of the Roman world were most involved in trade with the area.
There is ample attestation of Dressel 2-4 wine amphorae produced in the region of Campania with their characteristic mixture rich in volcanic material. There is also a fair number of Dressel 5 amphorae from the eastern Aegean as well as of the highly brittle Egyptian ones in the shaped of bi-truncated cones.
The discoveries made so far, therefore, came from Italy, the eastern Aegean and Egypt and can be dated from 1st century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D.
These dates raise a number of significant issues on the economic situation and how it led to these articles being imported as well as suggesting hypotheses on when the trade ended and on the lack of attestation of any other production of amphorae in the Mediterranean at that time.
By comparing the Khor Rori amphorae with data from other sites of the south Arabian coast and the Red Sea, the study also sets out:

  • to assess the intensity and importance of the trade flows of the port of Sumhuram,
  • to identify, as far as possible, where the amphorae were made by conducting petrographic analyses of their ceramic mixture,
  • to establish the chronology of the artefacts with the help of dating materials of the same stratigraphy,
  • to compare the data obtained with the frame of general reference for the various kinds of amphorae production in order to broaden existing knowledge on these ceramic pieces with information from such a special context.