More About Roman Transport
There were basically three ways to pack wares for transport: barrels, sacks, and amphorae. Barrels were the most widespread variant and could come in different sizes. Including an XXL variant.
(Roman barrel found in Oberaden, LWL Museum Haltern)
We even know what was in that big barrel: Wine. Lots of wine. Those legionaries were a thirsty lot, it seems. It's a lucky find since timber seldom survives 2000 years in the ground. Besides being thirsty, our legionaries also liked their olives, salted ham and lots of other food that would have been transported in barrels. Not to forget garum, the fishy Roman ketchup. :)
A little aside: Barrels were still used in the Middle Ages; there are some lanes in the Hansa town of Lübeck just wide enough that you can roll a barrel along. At that time, even cloth would have been rolled up and packed into barrels but I'm not sure if the Romans did that.
Rolling barrels was surely more fun than hauling heavy sacks around. Though the lanes in Lübeck go uphill, and so did the roads to several Romans forts - maybe not that much fun, after all.
Wheat was usually transported in sacks but one of the better preserved barges shows the grain had been put in loose. Maybe the transport company had run out of sacks and sent the much needed wheat off anyway. At the destination harbour, some poor sods on extra service probably had the ungrateful task of shoveling the stuff into sacks and carry it to the fort. Makes you wonder how much got lost that way, though maybe the legionaries were a bit tired of porridge. *grin*
Some amphorae, AP Museum XantenAmphorae
were mostly used for luxury items that came in smaller amounts. First class olive oil for the general's table and such. To make sure the amphorae
won't break, they often were put into a chest with sand. Better than those modern styrofoam packing peanuts that stick to curious cats. Ask Constance
There are some XXL sized amphorae
around, but most of them seem to have been used on seagoing vessels; the gound of the Mediterranean is littered by shards from the ones that never made it to their destination. It's difficult to approximate the amphora
/ barrel ratio, because timber decays more easily.
Wooden chests were also used, mostly to transport private belongings and tools (the chest found on the carpenter's barge