Ancient Terracotta Oenochoe (Wine Jug), Roman North Africa


This piece was created in Roman North Africa for domestic use and also exported elsewhere in the empire. As the poor could only afford practical objects, potters made many functional objects using inexpensive long-lasting materials. Its body is tapered and unadorned with the exception of horizontal ribbing under the slip and it was likely wheel made. Heavily potted for durability, the curved handle is attached from the rim to halfway down the body. In very good condition, intact and without restoration, it has expected mineral deposits, minor slip losses and some darkening of the slipped surface.


Oenochoe, the Greek word for wine vessel or jug, is a category of terracotta Greek ancient pottery with many different variants. Copied and modified by ancient cultures in pottery centers including the Roman-North-Africa territory called Africa-Proconsularis, earthenware terracotta pouring-vessels were produced for both its local market and exported to other areas of the Roman-Empire. Oenochoe were wheel made, covered in a slip and could be highly decorated for the rich or be undecorated functional and utilitarian pieces like this called Coarse Wares for the poor. Having a single handle attached below the mouth or other versions that rise in a curved form above the lip, it might have a simple flaring rim, a pouring spout or a trefoil mouth, and these variations could be mixed in pieces of very different sizes. Handles for all items large or small were always made for comfort in handling and pouring and for use by a single hand. The Greeks, Romans and Corinthians created them as painted terracotta pottery with complex imagery and others in metal for the rich, and some large stone examples with carved relief designs were sometimes used as grave markers.

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 6 × 6 in
Place of Origin

Ancient Mediterranean


Ancient, Roman Empire


Imperial Period 1st Century BCE – 4th Century CE

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 4.5” W: 3” D: 2.75”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 11.43cm W: 7.62cm D: 6.98cm




Very good, signs of age and wear consistent with age, no restorations/repairs (see description)

Reference Number