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Department of Archaeology


The Canaanite Amphorae Project 

This project arose from on-going research at two Egypt Exploration Society expeditions, Amarna and Memphis. At Amarna, a study by Margaret Serpico (Institute of Archaeology, University College London) of preserved visible organic residues in pottery vessels indicated a strong link between certain commodities and their transport in Canaanite Amphorae. These storage jars were widely used in the eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age to hold a range of natural products such as oil, resin and honey. The designation of the amphorae as ‘Canaanite’ is based on their presumed manufacture in that region although centres of production are largely unknown. At Memphis, Janine Bourriau (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge) undertook detailed microscopic study of the clays used to make the jars in order to form a classification system of the different clay fabrics. Confirmation that a number of different clay fabrics were used raised the possibility of identifying different geographical source locations and linking commodities to specific areas.

To explore this possibility, the Canaanite Amphorae Project was established in 1996. The project is co-directed by Serpico and Bourriau and has been undertaken in collaboration with a number of specialists. Further study of the residues has been undertaken by Dr Benjamin Stern and Dr Carl Heron (Department of Archaeological Science, University of Bradford) and examination of the clays using thin section petrography and chemical analysis has been undertaken by Dr Laurence Smith (McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge) and Dr Yuval Goren (Department of Archaeological Science, Tel Aviv University).

For more information please visit the external project website.


Project Tags

Material Culture
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Geographical areas: 
Egypt and Sudan
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Biomolecular Archaeology
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Egyptology and Egyptian Language
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