The Ancient Amphora

The ancient amphora, just before being removed from the excavation site. Photo by University of Exeter. The excavation of an ancient Roman road that once ran through the British Isles has yielded a unique archeological find. Researchers with the University of Exeter has uncovered fragments of an ancient storage jar. Archaeologists have been excavating the road, complete with potholes and wheel ruts, for nearly a year.

Their work has offered new insight into how the communities of Roman Britain functioned. The latest clue as to what life might have been like 2,000 years ago, near Ipplepen, England, is a pottery fragment — a large piece of what’s referred to as an amphora.

The storage jar was likely used to carry food stuffs across Europe, from Rome to “Britannia.” Archaeologists say the jar likely carried olive oil or wine.

“It’s amazing to think the amphora has travelled hundreds of miles across land and sea to end up under our Roman road at Ipplepen,” Danielle Wootton, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, said in a press release. “The amphora had lots of 2,000 year old fractures, so we had to lift it very carefully. As you can imagine, it was a relief when we got it out in one piece.”

The digging near Ipplepen, a small village in the county of Devon in south-west England, has revealed the most significant concentration of Romano-British archaeological features outside of Exeter. The Roman Empire ruled much of Britain from 43 to 409 CE.

The latest discovery is further confirmation that archaeologists are exploring a region rich in ancient history.

“We knew we had a Roman road but previously had no signs of Romano-British occupation to go along with it which was puzzling,” Wootton added. “So we’ve been searching for evidence of a settlement in our new trenches, looking for archaeological features- and we are finally seeing evidence for this which is brilliant news.”