Discovering the Real Use of the Greek Amphora

    New DNA testing shows that amphorae containers were used for the storage of different products.

    -Katerina palamiotis

    The new DNA testing, Metagenomic DNA analysis, which recovers 10x more DNA, has helped researchers retrieve DNA samples from nine amphorae that were found in shipwrecks that dated back to the 5th and 3rd centuries BC. While wine samples were expected, each amphora container showed multiple DNA, proving that they were reused and carried different products each time. This DNA testing shows that these amphorae contained a variety of products, questioning in this way assumptions of many years concerning amphora use in ancient Greece.

    Examining containers from different time periods, researchers hope to be able to create a picture depicting the use of amphorae containers in trading throughout different time periods and also the exact time that different crops were first introduced.  Investigating ancient DNA gives us the opportunity to have access to a more accurate representation of ancient diet, medicinal compounds, value-added products, products brought to market, and food preservation methods.