Artifacts recovered from the Chios-Oinousses wreck

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This is the Chian amphora (circa 350-330 B.C.) recovered from the wreck at between Chios and Oinousses. Although typically associated with wine transport, our ancient DNA analysis indicates the original contents of this jar were olive products and oregano. (P. Vezirtis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities)


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Scale drawing of the Chian jar recovered from the Chios-Oinousses wreck. (E. Paul Oberlander, WHOI)


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This amphora was recovered from the Chios-Oinousses wreck in 2004. Its place of manufacture is unknown. Analysis of ancient DNA recovered from the jar's ceramic matrix revealed the original contents included the Pistacia genus, possibly mastic or terebinth. (P. Vezirtis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities)


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A scale drawing of the unattributed amphora from the Chios-Oinousses shipwreck. (E. Paul Oberlander, WHOI)


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The small jug, or oinochoe, recovered from the Chios-Oinousses shipwreck in 2005. (P. Vezirtis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities)


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Scale drawing of the Chios-Oinousses oinochoe. (E. Paul Oberlander, WHOI)


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The label on a modern Chian wine bottle depicts a 4th century B.C. Chian amphora - a direct link between the Classical and modern worlds. (Brendan Foley)

Related Files

» Detailed amphora measurements
Detailed measurements of all the features of the amphoras recovered from the Chios-Oinousses shipwreck.



Amphoras

Two amphora types are evident on this wreck, and one example of each type was recovered in 2004 by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research and the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

The majority of the visible jars on the site are a type attributed to Chios. This jar style has a generally oblong shape with a high straight neck, long vertical handles with high attachment points, conical body, carinated shoulder, and spiked base with a conical cup toe.

The Chian amphora recovered in 2004 was designated BE2004/4.1. The vessel is intact except for one missing handle, but traces of that handle's attachments remain on the neck and shoulder. The clay color is red (2.5 YR 5/6). The amphora's dimensions are overall height 0.915 m, maximum diameter 0.340 m, handle height 0.320 m, toe height 0.070m, depth of recess in toe 0.040 m, neck inner diameter 0.087 m. Ephorate archaeologists measured the capacity of the jar by filling it with water according to standard practice. The volume to the base of the neck is 19.0 liters, and the total volume to the rim is 22.0 liters.

The second type has an unknown origin. This amphora has a relatively short neck, short vertical handles, globular body, and a spiked base terminating in a knob toe.  The amphora of this style recovered in 2004 was designated BE2004/4.4. The clay color is light red (2.5 YR 6/6). The amphora dimensions are overall height 0.665 m, greatest diameter 0.400 m, handle height 0.145 m, neck height 0.140 m, neck inner diameter 0.085 m. The capacity of this amphora was measured by filling it with water according to standard practice. The capacity at the base of the neck is 32.4 liters, and the total internal volume measured at the rim is 33 liters.

Scholars who wish to be provided with additional information about these amphoras may contact Brendan Foley.




Oinochoe

In addition to these two amphoras, one other artifact was recovered from the wreck. A single example of a jug designated BE2005/4 was recovered by the HCMR ROV in 2005. BE2005/4 is a plain ware jug missing the rim, part of the neck, the handle or handles, and part of the body. It has a compressed spherical/ovoid body and a ring base. The clay is reddish brown to dark reddish gray (5 YR 5/3). The dimensions of the jug are overall height 0.175 m, diameter 0.170 m, base diameter 0.095 m. The inner surface was coated by a thin layer of earth-like material. This residue has not yet been analyzed. This jug is a plain wide neck type with a characteristic slide carination on the shoulder. An exact parallel of the vessel has been found at Chios harbor (unpublished). The jug can be dated within the 4th c. B.C. and placed between the Type A jug of the Ephesos Tetragonos Agora  (first half of 4th c. BC) and the series of jugs from Rhodes (last quarter of 4th c. BC).


Chian wine

Chios was famous for its distinctive and expensive wine throughout history. From circa 500 B.C. until the Roman period, an amphora often accompanied by a bunch of grapes was a persistent feature on Chian coinage. This has been interpreted as an advertisement for the island's wine.[i] Ancient writers across the centuries noted the quality of Chian vintages. Strabo and Pliny declared that the best Greek wine was produced in Ariusia, the mountainous northwestern region of the island; Pliny noted that Caesar provided Chian wine at his triumphal banquets (Strabo, Geography XIV. i. 35; Plin, HN XIV. viii. ix, and XIV. xvii. 97). Theopompus credited the Chians with the invention of "dark" or "black" wine, as differentiated from white or yellow wine.[ii] Athenaeus quoted other ancient authors' claims that Chian wine was best of all, again singling out the Ariusian variety (Ath. Deipnosophistae, I. 26, 29, 32). The ancient texts indicate that the distinctive Chian wine found a wide and eager market throughout the Greek world for centuries.

The Chian tradition of depicting its amphora style on coins persists today in one form. Modern Chian wine labels show a 4th century B.C. amphora, a direct link between the Classical and modern worlds!



[i] Hardwick 1993, p. 211.

[ii] Whitbread 1995, p. 144; Boardman 1967, p. 252.


 

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Last updated April 30, 2008
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