Ayla-Axum Amphorae or Aqaba Amphorae

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The Ayla-Axum amphorae are narrow conical amphoras that were named after the widest range of finds in the Red Sea. Subsequent findings since the mid- 1990s indicate, however, that the amphoras originate in Byzantine, or even early Islamic, Aqaba. Hence, the preferred nomenclature is now "Aqaba Amphora." The Ayla-Axum/Aqaba amphora type has parallels from at least three terrestrial sites in Eritrea and Ethiopia: Aksum, where amphora sherds with gray fabric were found by the Deutsche Aksum Expedition (Zahn 1913: 208); Matara dating to the 4th through 7th centuries (Anfray 1990: 118); and Adulis (Paribeni 1907: 551) examples of which are on display in the National Museum in Asmara. Other examples have been found at Berenike in Egypt, where the amphoras date firmly to an early 5th century context in what may be the best stratified examples (Hayes 1996: 159-61); from Aqaba in Jordan where many examples have been found, including their kilns; on The Shipwreck at Black Assarca Island, Eritrea (Pedersen 2008; Pedersen 2000); and in the Mediterranean such as on the late 6th-century shipwreck at Iskandil Burnu, Turkey, as well as in Spain and Carthage in strata datable from the mid-fourth to the sixth centuries (Keay 1986: 356, 358, 471). The largest number (c. 500) came to light during excavations at Zafar/Yemen.

In 2013, an archaeological expedition to Saudi Arabia led by Ralph K. Pedersen, then guest professor at Philipps University Marburg, discovered a shipwreck containing Aqaba amphoras. The site was discovered by Marburg student Matthias Link during a survey along a reef.

Further reading[edit]

  • Anfray, F. 1990. Les Anciens Ethiopiens: Siecles d'Historie. Paris: Armand Colin Editeur.
  • Hayes, J. W. 1996. ‘The Pottery’, in S. E. Sidebotham and W. Wendrich (eds.) Berenike '95. Preliminary Report of the Excavations at Berenike (Egyptian Red Sea Coast) and Survey of the Eastern Desert, pp. 147–178. Leiden: School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies.
  • Keay, S. J. 1986. Late Roman Amphorae in the Western Mediterranean. BAR International Studies, volume 196.
  • Melkawi, A. – Khairah, ʿA. – Whitcomb, D. 1994. The Excavation of two Seventh Century Pottery Kilns at Aqaba, in: Annual Dept. Ant. Jordan 38, 447–468.
  • Paribeni, R. 1907. ‘Richerche Nel Luogo Dell'Antica Adulis’, in Monumenti Antichi, volume XVIII. Milan: Reale Accademia dei Lincei.
  • Pedersen, R. K., & Brandmeier, R. (2016). "Nabataean Seafaring and the Search for Shipwrecks in the Red Sea." In N. I. Khairy (Ed.), Studies on the Nabataean Culture II (pp. 11–24). Amman, Jordan: Deanship of Academic Research, University of Jordan.
  • Pedersen, R.K. 2008. The Byzantine-Aksumite period shipwreck at Black Assarca Island, Eritrea. Azania XLIII: 77-94
  • Pedersen, R. K. 2000. ‘Under the Erythraean Sea: An Ancient Shipwreck in Eritrea’, The INA Quarterly 27.2/3: 3-12. Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
  • Raith, M. – Hoffbauer, R. – Euler, H. – Yule, P. – Damgaard, K.2013. The View from Ẓafār –An Archaeometric Study of the Aqaba Late Roman Period Pottery Complex and Distribution in the 1st Millennium CE, Zeitschrift für Orient-Archäologie, 6, 320–350, ISBN 978-3-11-019704-4.
  • Yule, P. (ed.), 2013. Ẓafār, Capital of Ḥimyar, Rehabilitation of a ‘Decadent’ Society, Excavations of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg 1998–2010 in the Highlands of the Yemen, Abhandlungen Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, vol. 29, Wiesbaden 2013, ISSN 0417-2442, ISBN 978-3-447-06935-9.
  • Zahn, R. 1913. ‘Die Kleinfunde’, in D. Krencker (ed.) Deutsche Aksum Expedition, volume 2, pp. 199–231. Berlin: Georg Reimer.

See also[edit]