Name for a vessel made of clay, earthenware, bronze and, more rarely, glass. The Greek name "amphora" is derived from the fact that the vessel could be "carried by two handles" ("amphi" = "to carry by two handles" and "phéro" = "to carry"). This was done by two people for larger volumes or weights. It was probably invented by the Canaanites, the ancestors of the Phoenicians, and brought to Egypt in 1500 BC. The amphora developed into the most popular vessel in antiquity, used for liquids of all kinds, especially oil or wine.It was later brought as far as China by the Greeks.
The classic wine amphora was a bulbous clay vessel with two handles on a narrow neck and a pointed lower part. Amphorae usually did not have a foot, so that they could not be placed on a stand, usually without a three-legged base, but were also stored lying down or hung up by the handles. They were also often used for transport by ship, for which purpose they were stuck into a thick layer of sand with the tapering lower part in order to fix them in place. There were many different shapes, including the Attic pelike (also stamnos) with a fixed base and short neck, which was mainly used for storing and transporting wine and oil, but also as an urn for storing ashes in tombs. Small amphorae for ointments, perfumes or fragrances were called amphoriscos.