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Amphora Standardization

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The production of transport containers to precise and consistent shapes and sizes, within and across workshops and even sometimes across vast distances, provides a potential index of organization and complexity in ancient economies. Recent research conducted both in the lab and among remote collaborators has focused on case studies in serial production of amphoras ranging from regional Archaic Aegean jars to the widely produced types of the late Roman era. By integrating traditional formal and volumetric studies with computational analyses of their shapes and ergonomics as well as compositional analysis of their fabrics, this work investigates the potential impact of maritime technologies on economic growth and, more generally, concepts of economic rationality in the ancient Mediterranean. These topics have been the focus of a conference in Athens (2017), and part of a workshop series on “Standardization in Ancient Economies” (2019-2022), both supported by the lab.