They are most often ceramic, but examples in metals and other materials have been found.Versions of the amphorae were one of many shapes used in Ancient Greek vase painting.
Heather and reeds might be used as packing around the vases. The base also concentrated deposits from liquids with suspended solid particles, such as olive oil and wines.
Amphorae are of great use to maritime archaeologists, as they often indicate the age of a shipwreck and the geographic origin of the cargo.
The necks of pithoi are wide for scooping or bucket access. The size may require two or three handlers to lift.
The necks of amphorae are narrow for pouring by a person holding it by the bottom and a handle. For the most part, however, an amphora was tableware, or sat close to the table, was intended to be seen, and was finely decorated as such by master painters.
The base facilitated transport by ship, where the amphorae were packed upright or on their sides in as many as five staggered layers.
If upright, the bases probably were held by some sort of rack, and ropes passed through their handles to prevent shifting or toppling during rough seas.
The Romans acquired it during the Hellenization that occurred in the Roman Republic. The Romans turned the Greek form into a standard -a declension noun, amphora, pl. Undoubtedly, the word and the vase were introduced to Italy through the Greek settlements there, which traded extensively in Greek pottery.
It is remarkable that even though the Etruscans imported, manufactured, and exported amphorae extensively in their wine industry, and other Greek vase names were Etruscanized, no Etruscan form of the word exists.
The volume of a Roman amphora was one cubic foot, c. Roman amphorae were wheel-thrown terracotta containers. During the production process the body was made first and then left to dry partially.