- Commercial Amphoras of Knidos (BC) -

 
     

2200 years ago,things were no good in Knidos.Economy had failed and sunk deep in the Mediterrenean. Because of the failure of the investments made overseas, the production and commerce were stopped in the city.

     
     
In those periods, people could not transfer their debts to IMF, to Dervis or to God and there were no "televole"s (a programme on Tv) to amuse them, so their situtation was really critical.
In fact, Knidos was once a rich and a happy city. Eudoksos (4th century BC), the most famous mathematician and astrologer in the world, was from Knidos. Great architecture Sostratos, who built one of the 7 wonders in the world, was from Knidos, too.
According to Strabon, when you look it from the sea, you would be enchanted by the city ascending on the terraces like an amphitheatre.The great houses made of white marble were magnificient.
The city also had two sheltered harbours which were joined together with a channel of 10 metres.
The most important exportation was to Egypt-Delos and to Athens.
30 thousands of sealed Knidos amphora handles found in the excavations made in the Athens were a perfect proof of the production skill in the city.
 

     
Anyway, things worked out wrong and after such a splendour, the city went poor in a short period of time. It was at that time when the king of Bthinya came up with an offer.
In his message, the king pointed out that he was ready to pay all the debts of the city and also was ready to give the money to save them from destitution.

But he had one reguest in return. He wanted to have the Knidos Aphrodite. That statue of Aphrodite was made by Praksiteles(4th century BC), who, as Fidyas and Skopas, was one of the most famous sculptors of the ancient age.
     

     
The magnificience of this naked statue was heard all over the world. A lot of seamen, wanderers, historians, artists and aristocrats were coming to Knidos, as if making the pilgrimage, to see this statue. Everyone was enchanted by the statue and the number of people who adıre the statue was increasing day by day.
This was the first naked goddess statue in the ancient age. It was also the first statue that can be seen from four sides.
It was placed in the middle of the temple carrying the same name with it. (The backs of the cult statues were leaned against the walls of the temples and usually they were not carved.Statues were placed at the dark and remote parts of the temples.)
The offer of the king caused a chaos in Knidos and divided the people into two groups.
According to some, it was an indecent offer whereas according to others, it was the offer of salvation. The Knidos people could not solve the problem and decided to put the matter to the vote.
     

  The offer was voted and the result was announced: Knidos aphrodite, in other words, love and beauty won the victory. Now,reading the article up to here, you, readers may ask me, "Are you reading us tales or are you using amphoras to bait us? "Well, I have no objection to such a question.Just assume that I am baiting. As you know you cannot catch fish without a bait. But here,the bait I use is "information" that whets interests, appetite and that teaches.Moreover, this is not a tale. It is the true and exemplary story of the lands we live on. However, you cannot abstract the identity of an amphora from the history and geography it belongs.
     
For example the traditions in the amphora forms might be as such when the country was independent and then all the amphora traditions might completely be changed when the country was conquered. Their seals might be exposed to change. The volumetric standards of amphoras can be exposed to change when the country goes through a different economical or political process.
But in my opinion,commercial amphoras should be examined from a different view.
As the name indicates, they are the amphoras of "commerce." They are the true witnesses of commerce.
If we could look at the human history with X-rays,COMMERCE would be the only reason we could see behind the wars and inventions, behind emigrations and discoveries, behind rises and falls.
That is why, I believe that examining an amphora from such a large vision will both help us to broaden our horizons and help us to understand them better.However, there might still be some who thinks these are waste information.
 

     
  I do not have to tell them that culture is a huge ocean formed by variety of drops.
The most significant feature that distinguishes a Knidos amphora from the others is the bracelet-like, round rings around the pointed bottoms.
As the tails in handle edges of Lesbos amphoras or as the cracked handles of Chaos amphoras, these bracelets were peculiar to Knidos amphoras.

Knidos wine was the most famous and desired wine of the ancient age and its price was not as high as its quality.
Knidos vinegar was as famous as its wine.It was also popular in foreign markets.
     
Historians point out that Knidos vinegar can only be compared with the vinegar produced in Egypt. With which amphoras these vinegars were being sold?
All through their history, the Knidos people attach great importance to viniculture.They turned this stony and barren island to a fertile land by method of terracing. They grew grapes of high quality.
It is related that even today, you can see this terraces of grapes if you look at the city carefully. Viniculture that started in the 5th century BC in Knidos and tradition of amphora production related to the viniculture should have been continued more than 1000 years. As opposed to the other islands in the Aegean sea and cities at the Aegean coasts, Knidos did not make commerce with Black Sea countries. How do I know that?
No Knidos amphora was "caught" by the turbot nets of the fishermen in the Blacksea. That is why, I have only a few Knidos amphoras in my collection.
Knidos people were from the race of Dor, of the Greece people. They were defeated in the 6th century BC, by the strong Persian army commanded by Harpagos.
All through the history Knidos was dominated by diffeent powers and in the 2nd century BC,Romans took Knidos to their domination. In this period of Knidos amphoras,there were 2 seals in the handles. (as appropriate to the Roman tradition.)
     
     
     
     
     
     
   

- Top of the page -