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Amphorae

Vessels generally made of clay, and furnished with ears or handles

Amphorae, vessels generally made of clay, and furnished with ears or handles. Amphorae were used for various purposes, but especially for holding wine. Several monuments of the catacomb of St. Calixtus contain representations of amphorae. A fragment of one of these represents a boat with sails attached to a trident, and a cargo consisting of two amphorae; on the prow a dove is perched, with the usual olive branch. A fresco also, of the catacomb of Pontianus, represents a boatman on the Tiber with a cargo of amphorae. Both representations evidently allude to the calling of the deceased; the dove in the former case with the branch of olive is a symbol expressing the belief that the deceased was already in possession of everlasting peace. Fragments of amphorae have been found in the catacombs, one of which, now in the Lateran museum, is inscribed with the words: “Vivas in Deo”. The handle of an amphora in the Kircherian Museum at Rome has the monogram of Christ. The same monogram, engraved between two palms, appears on the neck of an amphora discovered in excavations on the Via Nazionale, at Rome. Altogether about sixty of these utensils have been found Inscribed with emblems peculiar to the Christians. A few of the most interesting of this category, containing the monogram, belong to the collection of =phone found in the cellar of the house of SS. John and Paul on the Coelian.

MAURICE M. HASSETT


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