- THE COMMERCIAL AMPHORAS OF THE FIRST TERM -

 
 
I have always enraptured by the various forms of Greek Amphoras . Annex the changes of the amphoras belonging to different times and same areas to this formal opulence. After that ,add the difference of echol in distant colonies.

Add on the ones that could not be identified yet, beside the ones whose origins are known. You face the diversity of soil, master workmen, style and then you live a visual intoxication.

The history of an amphora is like an adventurous movie full of emotion and excitement when considering in which century,where and by whom it is built, what it carried ,where and why it was sunk ,how many years it was under water and how it reached you is uncertain.
Above all, a collectioner or a researcher ,interested in Greek amphoras belonging to B.C. must have strong historical knowledge.
 


Museum Inventory number: 436

     


Aegean Amphora belonging to 1st-3rd century B.C., Museum Inventory number: 389

  The unrestrainable drive of amphora interest drags a person initially into searching then into learning and after that into a point that is more technical and unique. You unconsciously find yourself in the depths of a subject that you have just had a look at. An amphora you handle, swiftly takes you to the amazing black holes of the antiquity. You fear that you get lost and loose the trace you follow when wondering around history’s labyrinths. Strong excitements embrace you. Sometimes you get beyond the relative time and then you return to the beginning, you try to solve the puzzle. Because it is not only an amphora you are touching but also something full of mystery for thousand years. You touch the hands which made them. The last screams of the sunken sailor are what you hear.And then that amphora comes to life in front of you , it speaks ,it tells…

It tells the setting off, weighing the anchor ,the sailing…
It tells the waves ,the storm ,sinking and subsiding..
It tells the loneliness and deathly stillness of centuries in the ocean floor.
     
It tells its advantures and what it was carrying within. Believe me, you will notice if you scrutinize. You listen to and then you hear and sense.
And at that moment feelings,dreams and times get mixed up. Everything becomes confused.
However , there are things that do not get mixed up in this country,and your interest and affection cost you too much in this country.
There are always the skeptic glances of your inquisitorial friends and the sharp sword of the financial department, museum and law court that always stand still near your head and regard you as a traitor to your country. And you wish to lessen the preasure your excitements produce in your veins by sharing it with somebody. You can not find…
Archeologists dont like you for you plunge into thier mined boundaries without knowing your limits! The most tender ones do not laugh at you even out of politeness. Some of them are already disinterested and unexcited government officers.
And the wings of those whom are idealist and intellectual are constantly kept being sheared off .
 


Museum Inventory number: 162

     

  A desirous archeologist who is aware of the fact that he lives on the most wealthiest historical treasures of the world and feels indepted to his country and humanity, must develop him or herself. This can only be possible by reading, traveling ,excavating and searching and abrogating the monatery concernment and scientific autonomy. We can see how those people still work wonders when we think about the budget the state saves for culture. I want to express that I am proud of these people who cant find even mazout in winter to warm themselves, let alone the budget for research and excavation.
I know for sure that many antique cities ,tumulus and sunkens that are prohibited in land and in also marines but can not be controlled would be excavated and their results would be declared to the world by those of our idealist archeologists who want to do something and to be quits with this society . The first books about amphoras were written by Mr. Oğuz Alpözen in our country. ( If we do not take into account George Bass’ Yassıada, Gelidonya, Serçe and Ulubur’s notices and issues of excavation results ) We had beter add the sincere, serious and valuable small book named “ Amphoras of Antique Era” written by Mr. Ersin Doğer ten tears ago.
     
Also, Mr. Alpözer’s book named “ Commercial Amphoras of Bodrum Underwater Museum” , that he published with Mr. Harun Özdaş and Mr. Bahadır Berkaya in 1995, is a nice and significant work as well . Yet,the biggest handicap Turkish people face in this subject is the deficiency of source. For instance, there are 66 bibliographies in Mr. Değer2s book, 72 bibiliographies in Mr.Alpözen’s whereas there were nearly 360 bibliographies in the amphora book i found in Paris Marine Museum about 3 or 4 years ago. Still, the only thing we are consoled is the richness of our culturel inheritence and the determination of Turkish people to compete with the modern world. We can expect more if we add the internet advantages of our day. Lately , while thumbing through an amphora page in my friend’s internet, I have learned that in 1997 ( namely very newly established ), Kiev university has established an underwater Institute , searching the dispersal of Black Sea Amphoras in Russia. They wanted help from us , therefore I felt the heaps quite beter.  


Amphora of Rhodes belonging to 3rd-4th centuries B.C., Museum Inventory number: 266

     


Museum Inventory number: 292

  Our theme was Commercial Greek amphoras of antiquity. Streams of our ideas took us how much away…Then lets go back to the beginning and remember the summary of the historical process in these regions in order to be able to realize the opulence of Greek amphoras. Then you can see how the people of this geography became into being.

As you know, bacground of Greek civilization,there’s Egypt,sovereign of the Mediterranean of 2-3 thousand years ago B.C. This is followed by the Phonecian colonization period that expended to Greece and the peninsulas of Italy, including Girit. Even before the Minas civilization towards 3th thousands , ships were carrying copper from Cyprus, and tin from Italy and Spain Except for amphoras, in Bronze Era in Girit.
The Cretan,who developed in 2000 BC and then became almost an empire in the 1600s,were exposed to the invasions of the Dors ,again an Indo-European nation.They then got mixed with each other.
     
In these centuries,because the Phoenician and the Egyptian dominated the trading,they had most of the amphoras of that period. Phoenician alphabet entered into Greece in the same periods as well.The Greek,upon accepting the Linear B alphabet after the Linear A alphabet,later formed their own alphabet by adapting the Phoenician alphabet to theirs.No significant event was observed for 400 years,until the beginning of the Arcaic age in Greece(8th century BC). (Some sources call this age as the Dark age of Greece.)
However,at the beginning of the Arcaic age,the ruling nobilty started to do hardship to people from economical respect.The Greek,a maritime nation,sailed against the wind in large blocks in order to find new settlements and to make their living,and expanded to a large geography from Anatolia to Egypt, from Black Sea to Aegean islands, from Italy to France. (Just like the process of European nations’ establising a new state, emigrating to America 400 years before.
In this age of colonization, people, cultures, locals and nomads mixed with each other again and again. For example;in the same period a tribe of the Dors,emigrated to Rhodes and Southwest Anatolia,a group of Ionians to Samos, Chios and Middlewest Anatolia, Aiols to Mytilene island and Northwest Anatolia.
 


Amphora of Khios Island belonging 425 B.C., Museum Inventory number: 246

     

  This East Mediterranean originated mobility,brings forth a remarkable commercial wealthiness.At he beginning of the 6th century,The Greek who has become fairly wealthy with the permanent settlement,has created the golden man of the golden age,out of this suitable medium.Philosophers,artists,historians, matematicians of the classical ages,have then become the teachers of both the Moslem intellectuals and the inquiring minds of the Renaissance.The civilizations of today owe a great deal to this age.One of the most important artistic events of these ages is that ss amphoras, covered with red and black pictures and motifs.In the Helenistic Age,lasting from 300 to 30 BC,the distribution areas of amphoras expends from Europe to Africa,from Asia minor to central Asia.
     
The common denominator for Egypt Kenaan amphoras of the 15th century BC,and Phoenician amphoras of the 7th century BC,is that issue of attaching the egg forms and little-short handles like an ear not to the neck but to the body.However,it can be seen on the first Greek amphora,pictured on a tablet of 20th century BC,that the handles rise on the body part with a curve to join the outer lips of the mouth in the top. The bottom becomes thin,but it is not sharp.The bottom of the amphora can thus easily stand straight.

Also in the amphoras of the Arcaic age,covering the 6th and 8th centuries BC,the handles join the uppermost part of the neck,just under the wide lips,from above the wide and round belly.Here the bottom is again flat enough to keep the amphora straight.
Between the 6th and 7th centuries,a search for a form,conducted in the amphoras of Lesbos (Mytilene) island,is quite interesting too.The first period lesboses were rather rough and black.The bottom parts are in between sharp and smooth.The mouth parts are sharp to the edges,the angled handles resemble a Mouse tail.The lesboses of the 5th century are of an elegant light-red colour and very beautiful.Because the island residents still had difficulty in deciding for a form,this type has later changed considerably.

In the amphoras of Samos,of the 6th century BC,roundness in the belly part comes down from the shoulder in triangle shape.The mouth widens,the overhanging bracelet-like lips and short handles,covered with short necks are brought in the foreground.A century later,in the Mende amphoras of the 5th century,the body turns into a wide egg shape,while the 4th century Mytilene amphoras grow in height and neck,and the conic long body becomes thin in the lower part.The bottom sharpens quite a lot.Long curved handles joins in the top above the neck.
In the 6th – 5th century BC,Milet – İyon and Greko – Marsilia type amphoras,the belly is almost as swollen as a globe,the bottom sharpens and shortens even more,the mouth widens with fuller upfront lips.This shows that between the 7th and 5th centuries, the Greek have not been influenced by higly interesting Eastern Mediterranean Amphoras in which the two figures carry the amphoras on their shoulders ,above the mouth level by passing a stick through the handles.

Between the 5th and 4th centuries BC,significant changes in forms were observed in Chios island amphoras.Upon finding a medium type of convex,short and swollen-necked amphora,in 4th century BC,an original - fine and characteristic amphora with both different types thence followed.These amphoras had strong,narrow mouth,thin bracelet lip,narrow and long neck.The long handles,rising from wide,sharp shoulders,join somewhere near the neck.The body is of a triangle shape,coming down straight and it ends in a pointed bottom with thimble.( I must confess i have special admiration for this amphora. )

In these ages,the greatest competition among the amphora craftmen was to create the perfect ones in form,baked in the maximum heat,the lightest in weight,with thin bowspit.They succeeded in that too.If the amphora is used for carrying wine,the inner part is rosined.One can see that some of the amphoras are filled only with rosin.
     
     
     
     
     
     
   

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