Roman Amphora?

spire75June 7, 2010

Hello all,

I'm trying to identify/value an old amphora. It's quite special because it's still sealed and you can hear the contents sloshing about inside. It has the word SECUBO engraved across the front, and there is a symbol on the bottom. I believe it was found in Dunfermline, Scotland.

I was wondering if these are very common, either sealed, empty or otherwise?

Any help would be much appreciated, especially if you can identify the symbol on the bottom.

There is a link to a picture below.

Many thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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The base is small therefore it would tip over easily. I think is was meant to be stored in a rack laying part way down. It may have held wine or rum.

If this truly harks back to Roman times of the British isles, it is an archelogical find. Somehow, the bottom mark appears more modern than that.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:10AM
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Amphora usually had no "foot"....but not always.
What's it made of? Looks like metal not clay as amphorae were.
Secubo means "to live alone" and I have never seen a picture of a Roman amphora that is inscribed.
Just a thought but perhaps it is not 2000 years old and only about 100 years old and was a bottle made for a special Scotch whiskey?
I know it's a stretch....but that's my best shot!!
How did you come to have it?
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:30AM
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Linda, you amaze me. :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:39AM
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"Secuba" translates to "second born". It is an interesting object. Possibly held oil, "Secuba" could be key to its contents. What are its dimensions?

I tried to find information on backstamped marks on amphorae but found nothing. Somehow the backstamp, with its crown and shield, suggests later European make. Maybe, as Linda suggested, it was made especially for something else.

I find your amphora particularly appealing, whatever it turns out to be.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 10:58AM
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It's very cool, but I doubt it's Roman. I've linked to the Museum of London site, which shows amphora with pointed bottoms. I think the crest makes it far more recent--the crown about the shield looks a little like the papal tiara.

Here is a link that might be useful: Musuem of London

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Secuba is a noun...I believe secubo is a verb...
I know it's been a loooong time since I studied Latin...but somewhere Is eem to remember to live alone....maybe it's an adverb?
Anyhow I still want to know what the vessel is made of.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 1:18PM
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Thanks for the comments everybody, I'm grateful for all your input.

It's about 14 inches tall.

It belongs to a friend of mine, who found it amongst her late fathers belongings. The base was actually clogged up with soil/dirt, and she cleaned it to reveal the symbol. We therefore have no idea where it came from or how old it is - nothing at all :(

It appears to be made of some kind of pottery. It's not heavy enough to be metal, and it has a pottery sound to it when you tap it.

I tried finding out what the word SECUBO means, and I get a different result depending on where I look. I tried a Latin-English translator, and it came up with 'Welcome', but others came up with allsorts of things. (It is definitely SECUBO and not SECUBA)

We really would like to solve the mystery of this piece - To open or not to open, that is the question? xD I'm only kidding, we wouldn't do that! - At least not without knowing what it is first.

Thanks for the link to the museum site - very helpful.

If anyone has any more thoughts on idntifying the symbol I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 3:01PM
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I just found a page where someone was trying to identify the same/similar marking on a fairly modern sculpture. A clue at least...

Here is a link that might be useful: Similar Marking

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 3:22PM
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Hmm.....and the plot thickens....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 11:02PM
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That crown over a shield marking doesn't strike me as Roman at all. They seldom marked the vessel, more often marked the seal after the jug was filled.

secubo, in my translation resources, means "sleeping apart from a spouse" or "living alone" if it is Latin.

The shape and size is that of a Roman "torpedo" amphora,

Perhaps there was a shop selling wine, fancy vinegar, or olive oil in amphorae as limited editions? Or to tourists? I doubt it's more than 100 years old, or ever in the sea because of it's surface texture.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 5:56PM
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