Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora

Date:
January 22, 2010
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Chemists have confirmed that the substance used to hermetically seal an amphora found among remains at Lixus, in Morocco, was pine resin. The scientists also studied the metallic fragments inside the 2,000-year-old vessel, which could be fragments of material used for iron-working.

A team of chemists from the University of Valencia (UV) has confirmed that the substance used to hermetically seal an amphora found among remains at Lixus, in Morocco, was pine resin. The scientists also studied the metallic fragments inside the 2,000-year-old vessel, which could be fragments of material used for iron-working.

In 2005, a group of archaeologists from the UV discovered a sealed amphora among the remains at Lixus, an ancient settlement founded by the Phoenicians near Larache, in Morocco. Since then, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at this university have been carrying out various studies into it components.

The latest study, published recently in the journal Analytical Letters, focuses on the resinous material that sealed the vessel. There are remains of a circular rope-effect decoration around the mouth of the amphora, and on which some fingerprints of the craftsman who moulded it can still be seen. It would probably have been sealed with a lid of cork or wood, of which nothing remains, possibly including a ceramic operculum, such as those found nearby.

"We have studied the substance that was used to seal the container using three different techniques, and we compared it with pine resin from today," Josι Vicente Gimeno, one of the authors of the study and a senior professor at the UV, said.

The results confirm that the small sample analysed, which is 2,000 years old, contains therpenic organic compounds (primaric, isoprimaric and dehydroabietic acids), allowing this to be classified as resin from a tree from the Pinus genus.

The researchers have identified some substances that indicate the age of resins, such as such as 7-oxo-DHA acid, although this kind of compound was not abundant in the sample due to the amphora's good state of preservation. In addition, Gimeno says that the archaeological resin of the amphora found was hard and blackish with yellow spots, unlike present-day resin, which is more malleable and orangey in colour, similar to the fresh sap of the tree.

Italic amphora in the Straits of Gibraltar

"The jar was found in an area that must have been the amphora store of a house from the period between 50 BCE and 10 CE," Carmen Aranegui, coordinator of the excavations at Lixus and also a senior professor at the UV, said.

The archaeologist, who has been working at the site for the past 15 years with the Institut National des Sciences de l'Archιologie et du Patrimoine of Rabat, says the amphora is Italic, probably from the region of Campania. It is currently being housed in the archaeological warehouse at Larache. These jars were used as containers for wine or salted products, but after serving this purpose they could be re-used as watertight storage containers. The amphora found contains metallic fragments, and the scientists have analysed these too.

According to the experts, it is likely that this vessel was undergoing a second use, protecting pieces of iron from corrosion, so that they could later be used in the iron-forging process in a local foundry at the time.

Not far from this amphora, another has been found at Lixus bearing the mark in Latin 'A.MISE', which is the name of the person who made the jar, and has also been found on another similar one found in Cadiz, Spain. "This was a period when there was great contact between these two cities on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar," points out Aranegui.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100120085453.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2010, January 22). Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100120085453.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100120085453.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 14, 2014) — A hoard of Viking artifacts dating back over 1,000 years is discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins