Pottery in ancient Rome

Pottery in Latin Literature; Shapes and Uses

Vessels of earthenware were extensively used by the Roman people in the earlier days of the Republic for all purposes of domestic life, and later writers often contrast their use with that of the costly vases of precious metal then customary. “Gold,” says Persius, “has driven away the vases of Numa and the brass vessels of Saturn, the urns of the Vestals and Etruscan earthenware”; and Juvenal speaks of those who laughed at “Numa's black dish and bowl, and fragile saucers from the Vatican hill.” Even under the Empire fictile vases continued to be used by the poorer classes, and the use of the finer red glazed wares must have been even more general. But Juvenal, satirising the luxury of Domitian's time, says that it is considered a reproach to dine off earthenware. In Republican times it was the proud boast of a Curius to prefer his earthenware service to Samnite gold, and in 167 B.C. the consul Q. Aclius Tubero was found by the Aetolian ambassador dining off earthenware; Seneca also tells how he, at his entertainment given in the temple of Jupiter, placed fictile vessels before his guests. But when Masinissa entertained the Romans in 148 B.C. the first course was served on silver, the second in golden baskets, which Ptolemy Euergetes describes respectively as the Roman and Italian fashions.Athenaeus says that up to Macedonian times dinners were served in fictile vessels, but that subsequently the Romans became more luxurious, and Cleopatra spent five minae a day on gold and silver wares.Subsequently earthenware was replaced by glass as well as metal, especially for unguent-bottles and drinking-cups, of which large numbers are found in Roman tombs, where they virtually take the place of pottery. Vases of immense size were sometimes made under the Empire, and stories are told of the absurdities perpetrated by some of the Emperors in this respect. Juvenal, in describing the turbot prepared for Domitian, says no dish could be found of sufficient size to cook it in, and Vitellius had a dish made which from its huge dimensions acquired the name of “the shield of Minerva.”Elsewhere it is scoffed at as a “swamp of dishes” (patinarum paludes ). Pliny speaks of terracotta vases which sold for even more than precious crystal or myrrhine ware, and were therefore presumably of great size.

The principal use of earthenware was for the transport and storage of wine, oil, corn, figs, honey, and other commodities, answering to the casks of the present day. Martial speaks of a jar (testa ) reddened with the blood of tunnies exported from Antipolis (Antibes). Of the shapes used for this purpose and their names we shall speak presently in detail. Vases were also used in religious rites, but metal was probably more general; Plautus describes a miser who sacrificed to the Lares in earthenware (vasis Samiis ) because he was afraid that they might steal silver vessels. They were also used for various operations in agriculture, medicine, and household economy; but above all for the domestic purposes of the table. Some of the peculiar uses have already been referred to, and another that may be mentioned is the use of jars as bell-glasses for rearing vine-sprouts.

Although the custom of burying vases with the dead was not so general among the Romans as among the Greeks, they were yet frequently used in graves in the form of cinerary urns, in the shape of a covered jar (olla  or obrendarium ) of coarse ware and globular in form. Vases containing ashes have often been found in England, as at Bartlow and Litlington in Cambridgeshire. At the latter place a tomb contained a sort of colander perforated with holes which formed the letters INDVLCIVS. Similar finds are recorded from Arnaise in France. Pliny states that many persons expressed their desire to be buried in coffins of terracotta. Roman sarcophagi of terracotta have been found at Saguntum in Spain, but for these stone and lead were the ordinary materials. The cinerary urns were often formed from large dolia or amphorae, the neck being broken off so as to produce a globular vessel. Examples have been found in England at Chesterford, Essex, at Southfleet in Kent, and in the Bedford Purlieus near Kingscliffe, Northants (now at Woburn Abbey); another is in the Cathedral Library at Lincoln. Roach-Smith also mentions specimens found in Lothbury, London, and in Kent, the latter being now in the Maidstone Museum.

Vitruvius, in his chapter on Echea , or vases distributed around the ancient theatres for acoustic purposes, mentions that they were often made of earthenware for economical reasons; but they were usually of bronze. Seneca, too, alludes to this practice when he speaks of the voice of a singer falling upon a jar (dolium ). It is certain that the Greeks and Romans often made use of earthenware jars in architecture, but it is probable that this was more often done with the object of diminishing weight than for acoustic reasons, or, as some have thought, for want of better material. The dolium amphora , and olla  seem to have been the forms most usually employed. There are various examples in walls and substructures of the Augustan period, and they are also found in vaults, where their purpose is undoubtedly to lighten the weight. In the circus of Maxentius a number of large amphorae were found embedded in the vaulting and upper part of the walls, arranged neck downwards and with their axis inclined obliquely to the wall. All are now broken, but they illustrate the ingenious method in which the upper parts of the arches supporting the rows of seats were lightened. In the dome of the tomb of St. Helena, outside the Porta Labicana, rings of pots are embedded for the same purpose, whence the building is usually known as Torre Pignattara (from pignatte , pots). An oven found at Pompeii had a vaulted top formed of ollae  fitted into one another, each about a foot in height, of ordinary red ware; the span of the arch was 5 feet 6 inches, and the object here was to ensure extreme dryness as well as lightness. A similar arrangement occurs in the Stabian Thermae at Pompeii, and also in the church of San Stefano alla Rotonda at Rome, and the dome of San Vitale at Ravenna, built by Justinian in the sixth century, is similarly constructed, with an elaborate system of tubes and jars. The practice seems to have been continued during the Middle Ages, and an example occurs in England, at Fountains Abbey, where the purpose was acoustic.

We now proceed to describe in detail the principal shapes of Roman vases, so far as they can be identified from literary or epigraphical evidence or from other sources, on the same lines as in our previous chapter on the shapes of Greek pottery. Some of these shapes, it will be seen, they had in common with the Greeks, such as the amphora, the krater, and the phiale or patera, and in several instances (such as the cyathus and the scyphus) the Greek name is preserved.

Beginning with vases used for storage, whether for liquids, as for wine and oil, or for solids, as for corn or fruit, which were chiefly kept in cellars, we take first the dolium , a gigantic cask corresponding to the Greek πίθος , which from its general usage gave rise to the generic term opus doliare , for common work in clay. It was large enough to contain a man, as we know from the story of Diogenes illustrated on the Roman lamp already given (Plate LXIV. fig. 6); the vessel thereon depicted may serve to give an idea of its appearance. Columella speaks of dolia sesquiculearia i.e. holding one-and-a-half culei  or thirty amphorae. They were buried in the earth of the cellars, and have been found thus in Italy at Anzi, in France at Apt, Vaucluse, and near Clermont, and at Tunis. They were used for wine, oil, corn, and salted meat, and Juvenal tells us that dolia  were used for new wine, being lined with wax, pitch, or gypsum. In 1858 a large number were found at Sarno in Campania, some being stamped with the makers' names, as ONESIMVS FECIT, VITALIS F, L · TITI · T · F · PAP , and M · LVCCEI · QVARTIONIS.On one was incised L · XXXIV , or thirty-four lagenae  . One of the prodigies which was supposed to predict the future fortune of the Emperor Antoninus Pius was the discovery above ground of some dolia  which had been sunk in the earth in Etruria. An old name for the dolium  was calpar , and another smaller variety was the seria , containing only seven amphorae. A diminutive form of the latter, seriola , is described as a wine-vessel invented in Syria.

Dolia  were made in separate pieces, the base and other parts being secured by leaden cramps, and they were also hooped with lead, as we learn from Cato. Pliny speaks of repairing casks by fitting on handles, scraping the hoops, and stopping up cracks. They are made both of white and red clay, baked in a slow furnace, great care being required to moderate the heat aright. Their makers were known as doliarii . Part of a large dolium  bound with leaden hoops was found near Modena, at Palzano; also at Spilamberto, one with the name of T. Gavelius and the numerals XXX XIII , another of the capacity of 36 amphorae. On the mouth of one found in the Villa Peretta at Rome was the name of L. Calpurnius Eros, on another the name of T. Cocceius Fortunatus. Two good examples of dolia  were at one time preserved in the gardens of the Villa Albani, about 4 feet in diameter and as many in height, and of a coarse gritty pale red clay. This kind of vase was often used for sepulchral purposes, bodies having being found actually buried in them.

Next in size and importance to the dolium  is the amphora , resembling in form the Greek wine-jar; it usually has a long cylindrical body with pointed base, a long narrow neck, and two straight handles. Hölder notes several varieties: the Canopic, the wide-bellied, the cylindrical, the globular, and the spheroidal, the former of which is a typical early form in the provinces. It was often without neck or handle, and was seldom ornamented, not being used for artistic purposes like its Greek prototype, but only for strictly utilitarian ends, that is, for the storage and transport of wine. It is usually of coarse red earthenware, made on the wheel, with a clay stopper to close the mouth, and the name of the maker in a rectangular label on the handle, like the diota  or wine-amphora of the Greeks. It was in fact often known as a diota, as in a familiar line of Horace:

Deprome quadrimum Sabina,
O Thaliarche, merum diota.

The amphora was pitched internally to preserve the wine; the pointed base was of course adapted for fixing it in the ground in the cellar, but when brought up it was placed in a tripod-stand of metal or wood (incitega ). In Cicero's time the regulation size was equivalent to a quadrantal or two urnae . The use of this vase was very varied and extensive among the Romans; it was employed not only in cellars and granaries, but also at the table and for many other purposes of ordinary life, even where nowadays vessels of wood or iron would be preferred.

D'Agincourt mentions the discovery at Rome, near the Porta del Popolo, of a row of amphorae in a cellar in 1789, and at Pompeii a hundred were found in the house of Arrius Diomedes, a hundred and fifty in that of the Faun; a hundred and twenty were found in a cellar near the baths of Titus, and many more at Milan in 1809, and at Turin. Numbers have been found in London, varying in capacity from four to twelve gallons, and others at Colchester and Mount Bures in Essex. But they are so universal all over the Roman Empire that to enlarge the list would be tedious. Many, however, evoke a special interest by reason of their stamps and inscriptions, and a few typical examples may profitably be given.

The inscriptions vary in form and character; some amphorae give the name of the maker in the genitive,officina  being understood; others the consuls for the year in which they were filled; others, again, the name of the wine or other phrases descriptive of their contents; and others complimentary inscriptions to their owners. Among names of makers both single, double, and triple names are found, and among the former are many of a Gaulish or barbarian character, such as Bellucus, Dicetus, and Vacasatus, son of Brariatus; the last-named from Nimeguen, the first-named from London. Among the triple names, showing that the potters were Roman citizens or freedmen, are M. Aemilius Rusticus from Caerleon, and C. Antonius Quintus, also found in Britain. Sometimes the name is in the nominative with F  for fecit , or with the genitive OF  for officina  occurs. The stamps are in the form of oblong rectangular labels on the handle or neck, the letters in relief. One of the most curious stamps was on an amphora found in the Pontine marshes near Rome, a square one with a caduceus and other symbols arranged in twelve compartments; the inscription runs M · PETRON · VETERAN · LEO · SER · FECIT , “Leo, the slave of M. Petronius Veteranus, made it.”

The names of Vespasian and Titus as consuls are found on an amphora from Pompeii: VESPASIANO III ET FILIO CS , the year being A.D. 74; that of M. Aurelius (but not necessarily as consul) occurs on an amphora found at Newington in Kent; and on one in the British Museum from Leptis in Africa is L · CASSIO · C · MARIO · COS , the date being A.D. 107. On the neck of a fourth amphora, found at Pompeii, was FVNDAN · CN · LENTVL · M · ASINIO · COSS , “wine of Fundi in the consulship of Cn. Lentulus and M. Asinius (Agrippa),” of the year A.D. 26.

The character or origin of the wine or other commodity stored in the amphorae is given by such inscriptions as BARCAE, KOR · OPT  (“best Corcyrean”), RVBR · VET · [=V] · P CII  (“old red wine, 102 lbs. weight”), all from Pompeii, painted in red and black. MES · AM · XVIII , also on an amphora from Pompeii, appears to mean “eighteen amphorae [not measures] of Mesogitan wine” (from Mesogis in Lydia); or, again, we find at Pompeii SVRR · XXI , “twenty-one amphorae of wine of Surrentum”;TOSCOLA (n )ON  (ex OFFICINA SCAV (ri ), “Tusculan wine from the manufactory of Scaurus.” On the other hand, LIQVAMEN OPTIMVM  (“best pickle”), or such expressions as SCOMBRI  (“mackerel”), GARVS (“brine”), etc., imply that the vessel has been used for conveying pickled fish.

Among expressions of a complimentary nature are: FABRILES MARCELLAE N · AD FELICITATEM , “the workmen of our Marcella to wish her joy”; (pr )OMO (s FAMELIAI DONO (m V (otum dedit ), or DONO V (rnam dat ), “Promus gave (an urn) as a gift and vow to his family” (from Ardea in Latium). The list may be concluded with the inscription on an amphora found in the garden of the Villa Farnese, among the ruins of the Aurea Domus of Nero, which held eight congii ; on its neck was traced in ill-formed letters: L (iquaminis FL (os EXCEL (lens L · PVRELLI GEMELLI M (...), “Finest brand of liquor, belonging to L. Purellus Gemellus.” An amphora was found at Pompeii with the name of Septimius or Stertinius Menodotus in Greek letters. There are occasional references in the classics to the practice of placing such stamps on vases, as when Plautus makes the slave say, with reference to the drinking that went on in his master's house, “There you may see epistles written with letters in clay, sealed with pitch; the names are there in letters a foot and a half long.” Or, again, another slave, fearing to be caught with a jar in his possession, reflects, “This jar is lettered; it proclaims its ownership.” Juvenal speaks of wine whose country and brand had been obliterated by old age through long hanging in the smoke.

Another vase used much in the same way as the amphora, and particularly for keeping wine, was the cadus , the shape of which is not exactly known. It held about twelve congii , or seventy-two sextarii (pints), and is frequently mentioned by Horace and Martial. The former in the Odes  refers to his jar of Alban wine nine years old, and in another passage to one stored in Sulpicius' cellars; the latter speaks of cadi Vaticani , which may mean made of clay from the Vatican hill or containing Vatican wines; elsewhere he speaks of taking yellow honey from the ruddy jar (implying an earthenware vessel), and of the red jar which pours out home-made wine. We also learn from him that the cadus was hung in the chimney to give the wine a mellow flavour. From other passages we learn that the cadus  was used for oil, fruit, and money, and also as a measure equivalent to one-and-a-half amphorae or three urnae. The orca  is described by Isidorus as a kind of amphora, of which the urceus  (see below) was a diminutive.

The Romans were presumably, like the Greeks, in the habit of mixing their wine with water, but we only find the crater  mentioned rarely, and that in a poetical manner. Moreover it was probably made in metal as a rule, and the rare instances of the crater  which occur in the Arretine ware are obvious imitations of metal prototypes; there is a fine example in the British Museum from Capua (see Fig. 219). Ovid, however, speaks of the rubens crater , implying terracotta, as in the case of the rubens cadus of Martial mentioned above. The vinarium , the acratophorum  (for holding unmixed wine), and the oenophorum  were probably of the same character, but the latter was portable, as we know from Horace's jeer at the man who took his cooking-stove and wine-jar (oenophorum ) with him everywhere.

The urna , the equivalent of the Greek hydria , was similarly used for carrying water, and also for casting lots, or as a voting-urn; in the latter sense Cicero actually uses the word hydria . Its size was half that of the amphora. Both the urna  and the hydria are found in connection with funerary usages, and appear to have held the ashes of the dead. The situla , or bucket, with its diminutive sitella , was also used for water and for lots, but was principally of metal. Isidorus says it is the Greek κάδος. The cupa  and the cumera  seem to have been of wood rather than earthenware; the former was a kind of tub, the latter was used for keeping grain, and also by brides for conveying their effects to their new home. Another large vessel for holding liquids was the sinus , or sinum , used both for water and milk. The nasiterna , so called from its long spout or nasus , had three handles, and was used as a watering-pot. The fidelia  appears to have been a kind of large pail or bucket; Cicero in one of his letters cites the proverb, de eadem fidelia duos parietes dealbare , which answers to our “killing two birds with one stone.” It implies that it would be used for holding paint or whitewash.

Of smaller vases for holding liquids, such as jugs, bottles, and flasks, the principal were the urceus  (with its diminutive urceolus ), the ampulla , and the lagena  or lagona . The hirnea  is also mentioned as a jug which was filled from the jar or cadus. The urceus  seems to be a small jug, the equivalent of the Greek οἰνοχόη, having one handle; it was also used as a measure. The ampulla  was used both as a wine-flask and an oil-flask, corresponding thus to the Greek λήκυθος, as is seen in its metaphorical use. It was used for bringing the wine to table, like a decanter, and is described by Apuleius as lenticular in form, being therefore like a flat round-bodied flask with two handles.


An interesting example of an ampulla  of this kind, of red ware with a coarse reddish-brown glaze was found some years ago near the Hôtel Dieu, Paris. It bore two inscriptions round the body, one on either side, with letters in relief; on one side was OSPITA REPLE LAGONA CERVESA , “Mine host, fill the flask with beer”; on the other, COPO CNODI TV ABES EST REPLETA , “Innkeeper, (?), be off, it is full.” Similar vases have been found in Hainault and at Trier, and are said to be still made in Spain. Another of the same kind, but with only one handle, recently acquired by the British Museum from the Morel collection, has on it the word AMPULLA  painted in white (Fig.216). The lagena  (Greek, λάγυνος) was a jug or bottle with narrow neck, wide mouth, and handle, and was used as a sign by wine-sellers. It was sealed up until required for use,and being proverbially brittle, was protected, like a modern Italian wine-flask, by wicker-work. It was also used as a travelling-flask, and carried by hunters and fishermen; the younger Pliny exhorts Tacitus, when he goes hunting, to take not only a “sandwich-box and brandy-flask” (panarium ac lagunculam ), but also a notebook to jot down ideas. The Roman barmaid carried a lagena  at her side when serving in the tavern, and it was used as a wine-jug at the table. A jar found at Saintes in France has engraved on it MARTIALI SOL (i )DAM LAGONAM , “A whole flask to Martialis,” andgives a clue to the form associated with this word (see Fig.217).


The words in use for a ladle are cyathus , corresponding to the Greek κύαθος, in measure equivalent to one-twelfth of the sextarius or pint, and simpulum or simpuvium . The latter were chiefly associated with sacrifices, and will be dealt with later ; the cyathus  was regularly used at the table for measuring out the wine into the drinking-cups. We learn from Martial that in drinking a toast it was customary to use the number of cyathi that corresponded to the letters in the name of the recipient, as in the epigram

Laevia sex cyathis, septem Justina bibatur,
Quinque Lycas, Lyde quattuor, Ida tribus.

Of drinking-cups the Romans had almost as large a variety as the Greeks, the majority of the ornamented vases preserved to this day being apparently for this purpose; the number of names recorded in literature is, however, much less. The generic name for a drinking-cup was poculum , the Greek ποτήριον, just as vas  was the generic name for a larger vessel; it occurs constantly in the poets, who, indeed, use it somewhat loosely, and has already been met with in the series of small bowls with Latin inscriptions described in Chapter XI.. Many forms of drinking-cups used by the Romans were only made in metal, such as the cantharus carchesium , and scyphus . All these were forms borrowed from the Greeks, as were the calix  (kylix ), the cotula  (chiefly used as a measure = half-a-pint), and the scaphium  and cymbium , which were boat-shaped vessels. The ciborium  (a rare word, but used by Horace) was supposed to be made in the form of the leaves or pods of the colocasia , or Egyptian bean. Its later ecclesiastical use is well known. Other names of which we hear are the batioca , the gaulus , the scutella  (see below), and the amystis , or cup drained at one draught. Like the Greek kylix , the calix  appears to have been of all these the one most commonly in use, and is constantly referred to by poets and prose writers. Those of terracotta could often be purchased at a very low price, and formed, it is evident, the ordinary drinking-cups of the Roman citizen; they were also frequently of glass. Juvenal speaks of “plebeian cups purchased for a few asses ”; and Martial describes a man buying two calices  for an as  and taking them home with him. We have no exact information as to its form, but it must have been something like the Greek kylix , only probably without handles; it was also used for solid food such as herbs. Seneca speaks of calices Tiburtinae , which seem from the context to have been of earthenware. Varieties of the calix are probably represented by the typical Gaulish forms illustrated in Chapter XXIII., Figs. 221-223.

Of dishes and other utensils employed for food at the table, the largest were the lanx  and the patina . The former is described by Horace and Juvenal as large enough to hold a whole boar, and was probably of metal; the patina  is described as a dish for holding fish, crabs, or lobsters, but that it was not necessarily limited in size is shown by the stories already alluded to of Domitian and Vitellius. The latter, when dragged to his death, was insulted by the epithet of patinarius , or dish-maker. The patina was flat, and made of clay, and is also described as a wide and shallow vessel for cooking. It is contrasted with the lagena  in the well-known fable of the fox and the stork. Smaller dishes for sweetmeats and other dainties were the catinum  and catillum , and the patella . The discus  and paropsis  appear to have been, like the lanx , principally of metal; the former was like a shield (whence scutula  and scutella ); the latter is mentioned by Isidorus, who describes it as quadrangular, and by Martial, together with some obscurely-named dishes:

Sic implet gabatas paropsidesque
Et leves scutulas cavasque lances.

Martial speaks of the patella  as a dish for a turbot, and also as a vessel of black ware which was used to hold vegetables; the catinus  (a fictile dish) was large enough to hold a good-sized fish, such as a tunny, and the catillus  appears to have been a sort of porringer. Sauces were placed in small dishes or cups, known as acetabula  (the Greek ὀξύβαφον), which were evidently of earthenware; the catellus  held pepper, and the concha  or shell was used for a salt-cellar, also for unguents. The latter was probably a real shell, not of earthenware. Another kind of dish which is only once mentioned, in Horace's account of Nasidienus' banquet, was the mazonomum , probably a kind of lanx , in metal, which held on that occasion a sort of ragoût  of game. His own table, however, he boasts, was adorned only by a cyathus  and two cups, an echinus  or rinsing-bowl, a guttus , and a patera  or libation bowl. The guttus  seems to have corresponded to the Greek lekythos  or askos , and is the general name for an oil-flask or cruet. It was either a small, long-necked bottle or a squat flask with a narrow spout, which allowed the oil to pour slowly. Roach-Smith published a relief dedicated by Egnatius, a physician, to the Deae Matres, on which small vases of the first-named form appear, indicating that he consecrated his medicine bottles to these divinities.

Of vessels for cooking, washing, and other common domestic purposes, the olla  was that in most general use; the word is, in fact, a generic name for a jar or pot (Gk. χύτρα), as in the play of Plautus, the Aulularia , the name of which embodies an archaic form of the word, aula aulula . Here it was used for hiding a hoard of gold. It was also, as has been noted, used as a funerary urn, and some inscribed examples of marble ollae  have been found in tombs. The pelvis  was more particularly a washing basin, but Juvenal speaks of it as scented with Falernian wine. It is usually identified with the mortarium , a large, shallow, open bowl with a spout, frequently found in Britain and Central Europe; it is of coarse light-red clay, and often has the potter's name stamped upon it. That it was used for pounding substances is shown by the fact that it often has small pebbles embedded in the surface of the interior. The scutra  is mentioned by Cato and Plautus, and appears to have been used only in Republican times; its Imperial successor was the cacabus . The trua  or trulla  was a saucepan with a flat handle; numerous examples in bronze, silver, and earthenware have been preserved, and some have elaborate designs in relief on the handle.

A number of obscure and archaic names of vases are recorded by the etymologists and other writers, especially in regard to those used for sacrificial purposes and libations. The capis  or capedo  was probably a kind of jug (from capere , to contain); Cicero refers to the capedunculae  which were a legacy from Numa. The praefericulum  was not, as usually supposed in popular archaeology, a jug, but a shallow basin of bronze without handles, like a patera . The lepasta  or lepesta  (cf. Greek λεπάστη) is recorded as used in Sabine temples, and the futile  was used in the cult of Vesta for holding water; the cuturnium  is also mentioned. The simpulum  and simpuvium  represent similar utensils, though the words are distinct; they were small-sized ladles used almost exclusively in religious rites, and sometimes regarded as old-fashioned. With reference to the size, fluctus in simpulo excitare  became a proverbial expression for “a storm in a teacup.” They seem to have been usually of metal, but Pliny speaks of fictile simpula ; the simpuvium  is represented on coins and sacrificial reliefs. The lanx  appears to have been used for offerings to Bacchus, and the guttus cymbium , and other forms also appear in a sacrificial connection; conversely the patera , which is for the most part exclusively a libation bowl, was sometimes used for secular purposes; there is evidence that its use as a drinking vessel is older than its use for libations. The last-named corresponds to the Greek φιάλη, and is constantly referred to or represented; its essential feature was the hollow knob or omphalos  in the centre, and it was either made of metal or earthenware. The patella  was also used for libations or for offering first-fruits to the household gods.

Other obscure words referring to vases of secular use are the pollubrum  (Greek, ποδανιπτήρ) and malluvium  (Greek, χέρνιψ), meaning respectively basins for washing the feet and hands; the aquiminarium  for washing vessels; the galeola , a variety of the sinus ; the pultarius , a vessel used for warm drinks, for must, for preserving grapes, for coals, for fumigating, and as a cupping-glass; and the obba , which Persius describes as sessilis i.e. squat and flat-bottomed. The culeus ,congius hemina , and sextarius  appear to have been measures only, not vases in general use; the congius was one-eighth of an amphora, or six sextarii , about six English pints.

In the case of the majority of the names discussed in the foregoing pages, any attempt at identification with existing forms is hopeless; we have very few clues in the literature to the shapes of the vases described, and little evidence from themselves, as is often the case with Greek shapes; nor is any Roman writer except Isidorus, whose date is too late to be trustworthy, so explicit as Athenaeus. At present little has been done in the way of collecting the different forms of existing vases, but a valuable treatise on the subject was recently issued by the late O. Hölder, a Würtemberg professor, who collected all the forms found in Germany and Italy, and although he did not attempt to identify them by Latin names, he has done much service in grouping them together, classified as urns, jars, jugs, and so on, in a series of twenty-three plates of outline drawings.

There is, in fact, in Roman pottery no clear line of distinction to be drawn between the various forms of drinking-cups or of jugs or dishes, as is the case with Greek vases; different forms again are found in different fabrics, and those typical of ornamented wares are not found in plain pottery, and so on. Nor must it be forgotten that in Roman pottery the ornamented wares are the exception rather than the rule. Where the Greeks used painted vases, the Romans used metal; and apart from the plain pottery, the forms are almost limited to a few varieties of cups, bowls, and dishes. Comparisons with the Greek equivalents may give a probable idea of what the Roman meant when he spoke of an urceus  or an olla , but for the rest the modern investigator can do little beyond attempting to point out what types of vases were peculiar to different periods or fabrics, and in most cases any attempt to give specific names can only be regarded as arbitrary.

Roman vases are far inferior in nearly all respects to Greek; the shapes are less artistic, and the decoration, though not without merits of its own, bears the same relation to that of Greek vases that all Roman art does to Greek art. Strictly speaking, a comparison of the two is not possible, as in the one case we are dealing with painted vases, in the other with ornamentation in relief. But from the point of view of style they may still be regarded as commensurable. Roman vases, in a word, require only the skill of the potter for their completion, and the processes employed are largely mechanical, whereas Greek vases called in the aid of a higher branch of industry, and one which gave scope for great artistic achievements—namely, that of painting.

It may perhaps be advisable to attempt some definition of the subject, and lay down as far as possible historical and geographical limits within which Roman pottery as a distinct phase of ancient art may be said to be comprised. The line which distinguishes it from Greek pottery is, however, one of artistic evolution rather than of chronology, one of political circumstances rather than of geographical demarcation. In other words, it will be found that during a certain period the ceramic art had reached the same stage of evolution throughout all the Mediterranean countries; in Greece and Asia Minor, in the Crimea and in North Africa, in Southern Italy and in Etruria, a point of development had been reached at which the same kind of pottery, of very similar artistic merit, was being made in all parts alike. In Greece and other regions which had up to the end of the fourth century, or even later, been famous for their painted pottery, this art had lost its popularity and was dying or dead; in other parts, as in Etruria, it had never obtained a very firm foothold, and the local traditions of relief-ware imitating metal were revived. Not the least remarkable feature of the art of the Hellenistic Age is the great impetus given to working in metal, as has already been indicated in a previous chapter. The toreutic products of Alexandria and of the famous chasers of Asia Minor, whose names Pliny records,became renowned throughout the Greek world, and the old passion for painted pottery was entirely ousted by the new passion for chased vases of metal.

But in spite of increased habits of luxury, it is obvious that the replacing of earthenware by metal could never have become universal. For ordinary household purposes pottery was still essential, and besides that, there were many to whom services of plate and gold or silver vessels for use or ornament were a luxury unattainable. Hence it was natural that there should follow a general tendency to imitate in the humbler material what was beyond reach in the more precious, and the practice arose, not only of adorning vessels of clay with reliefs in imitation of the chased vases, but even of covering them with some preparation to give them the appearance of metal. Instances of these tendencies have been given in Chapter XI., and no better example could be adduced than that of the silver phialae of Èze and their terracotta replicas in the British Museum.

In the same chapter we saw that Southern Italy, in particular, was the home of the relief and moulded wares in the Hellenistic period. This was a time when there were close artistic relations between that region and Etruria, and we have already seen that this method of decoration had long been familiar in the latter district. Hence it is not surprising that we find springing up in the Etruscan region of Italy an important centre of pottery manufacture which proved itself to be the heir of more than one line of artistic traditions. The era of Roman pottery is generally assumed to begin with the establishment at Arretium, within the area of Roman domination, of a great manufactory in the hands of Roman masters and workmen. Evidence points to the second century B.C. as the time when Arretium sprang into importance as a pottery-centre; and thenceforward for many years its fabrics filled the markets and set the fashion to the rest of the Roman world.

The lower limit of the subject is, from lack of evidence, not much easier to define; but after the second century of the Empire, pottery, like other branches of working in clay, sank very much into the background, and the spread of Christianity after the time of Diocletian practically gave the death-blow to all Pagan art. M. Déchelette, in his account of the important potteries at Lezoux in Gaul, brings forward evidence to show that they practically came to an end about the time of Gallienus (A.D. 260-268); but it is probable that the manufacture of degenerate sigillata  wares went on for about a century longer in Germany at any rate, if not in Gaul. Much of the pottery found in Germany and Britain is of an exceedingly debased and barbaric character.

In discussing the geographical distribution of Roman pottery we are met first with the difficulty, which has already been hinted at, of defining where Greek ends and Roman begins. But we must have regard to the fact that in most if not all Greek lands pottery, painted or moulded, was in a moribund condition, whereas in Italy the latter branch was rejuvenescent. It seems, therefore, more satisfactory on the whole to exclude the Eastern Mediterranean entirely from the present survey, and to consider that with the concluding words of Chapter XI. the history of pottery in that part of the ancient world came to an end. That is to say, that all later fabrics found in Greece or Asia Minor, even though they are sometimes of Roman date, belong to the lingering traces of a purely Hellenic development, and have no bearing on our present investigation.

The latter must therefore be limited to the countries of Western Europe, embracing—besides Italy—France, Germany, Britain, and Spain. The pottery found in these regions during the period of the Roman Empire is homogeneous in character, though greatly varying in merit, and so far as it can be traced to the victorious occupiers of those countries rather than to purely native workmanship, represents what we may call Roman pottery, as opposed to Greek or Graeco-Roman on the one hand and Celtic or Gaulish on the other.

Technical Processes

Roman pottery, regarded from its purely technical aspect, is in some ways better known to us than Greek, chiefly owing to the extensive discoveries of kilns, furnaces, and potters' apparatus, such as moulds and tools, in various parts of Western Europe. On the other hand, its classification is a much more difficult matter, although it has for so long been the subject of study, for reasons which will subsequently appear. This is perhaps partly due to the overwhelming interest which the discoveries of recent years have evoked in the study of Greek vases; and partly, of course, to the artistic superiority and more varied interest of the latter; but the mass of material now collected in the Museums of Italy and Central Europe is gradually impelling Continental scholars to bring to bear on Roman pottery the scientific methods now universally pursued in other directions. Of their work we shall speak more in detail in another chapter; for the present we must confine ourselves to the technical aspect of the subject.

The Romans, who used metal vases to a far greater extent than the Greeks—at least under the late Republic and Empire—did not hold the art of pottery in very high estimation, and their vases, like their tiles and lamps, were produced by slaves and freedmen, whereas at Athens the potter usually held at least the position of a resident alien. These were content to produce useful, but not as a rule fine or beautiful, vases, for the most part only adapted to the necessities of life. There was, so far as we know, no manufacture of vases set apart for religious purposes, either for funerary use or as votive offerings, and for the adornment of the house metal had the preference. It is not, therefore, surprising that we should find them making use of a less fine and compact paste for the greater proportion of their vases. With the exception of the fine red wares with reliefs, which are now generally known to archaeologists as terra sigillata , and which answered in public estimation to our porcelain, they made only common earthenware, and this was generally left unglazed.

All kinds of clays are used, varying with the different regions in which the pottery was made, and ranging in hue from black to grey, drab, yellow, brown, and red. In quality, too, the clay varies to a considerable extent, some being of a coarse, pebbly character. The red clay of the Allier district in France, where most of the Gaulish pottery was manufactured, is of a ferruginous nature; its natural colour is modified by baking, though it never becomes white. The pottery of St. Rémy-en-Rollat in that neighbourhood is made of the same white clay as the terracotta figures. In Italy, as a rule, careful attention seems to have been paid to the preparing and mixing of the clay, and in the glazed red wares it is uniformly good. In fact, the remarkable similarity in technique and appearance of this ware throughout the Roman Empire has led to the view that there can only have been one centre from which it was exported. Against this, however, must be urged the undeniably provincial and almost barbarous character of the decoration on much of the pottery found in Central and Northern Europe; and therefore, without denying that exportation went on, as it undoubtedly did, we should prefer to suppose that this red glaze was produced in some special artificial manner, such as by using red ochre or iron oxide (see below), the knowledge of which became common property. As Semper said forty years ago: “Not only did barbarians, Gauls, Britons, and Germans, learn to know and use Roman technique, but also Egypt, Asia, and the Greeks, already immortalised by their own pottery, dropped their local processes, and voluntarily adopted Roman forms and technique.” Clay and glaze, form and technical method, are in all parts the same; it is only the decoration that varies and reflects the spirit and taste of the locality.

Formerly it was thought that the red glaze was obtained in the baking, after careful polishing of the surface, and that special means were adopted to this end. In the kilns of Castor (see below) Artis thought that he detected contrivances for this purpose; but it is now generally agreed that the glaze is artificial, not natural. In ordinary wares and in the lamps a red glaze is produced by a mere polishing of the surface, and this varies in tone and lustre with the proportion of oxide of iron in the paste, and the degree of heat employed in the baking. But in the terra sigillata  the red glaze reaches a high and uniform state of perfection. This seems to have been produced by a kind of varnish, the elements of which are not absolutely certain; but it would appear that the substance added to produce the effect was of an essentially alkaloid nature. This has been deduced by Dragendorff from a series of analyses made from fragments of different wares, both without and with the glaze; in the latter case the alkaloid constituents show a marked increase in quantity, whereas the proportion of the iron oxide and other elements remain constant. These investigations were made by Dr. Lilienthal, of Dorpat, on five fragments: (1) from a vase of the Republican period found at Corneto; (2) from a bowl of fine terra sigillata  of the first century after Christ; (3) from a deep cup of the same style; (4) from late provincial ware of the second or third century; (5) from a degenerate fabric with rough clay and inferior glaze, the results being as follows:—

1. Without glaze:

Silica 55·08 52·87 52·054 54·75 66·70
Clay earth 23·10 23·95 18·82 21·01
Iron oxide 14·13 4·78 13·966 14·48 5·89
Carbonate of lime 5·22 13·80 5·30 3·20
Magnesia 0·75 2·35 1·850 3·38 1·26
Potash 0·79 0·89 1·852 1·55 1·02
Carbonate of sodium 0·28 0·45 0·523 0·53 0·57

2. With glaze:

Silica 54·18 51·924 53·70
Clay 21·31 16·93
Iron 15·00 12·168 14·70
Carbonate of lime 6·01 5·82
Magnesia 1·94 3·12 2·201 5·72 2·05
Potash 0·95 1·06 2·210 1·82 1·27
Carbonate of sodium 0·37 0·49 0·921 0·62 0·69

It must be borne in mind that, although the final effect is due to the alkaloids, the red colour of the vases is produced by the iron oxide which was inherent in the composition of the clay, none being added with the varnish, as the quantities show. All the fragments also showed traces of manganese and sulphuric acid. Previously analyses had been given by Brongniart and Blümner, with results approximately similar, but not so definite. Fabroni had thought that the iron oxide was combined with a vitreous paste, and Keller, by practical experiments, essayed to show that borax was employed to provide the required appearance, and further maintained that the furnace at Castor already alluded to was used for dissolving that substance. He was not far from the truth, but the results obtained by Dragendorff seem to militate against his conclusions.

In any case the glaze is very perfect, of so bright a red as to resemble coral, and serving, as Blümner says, to enhance the ground colour where a modern glaze would only conceal its imperfect tone. It is so fine and so carefully laid on that it does not interfere with any outlines or details, in this again evincing its superiority to modern glaze. It seems to have been applied not with the brush, but by dipping the vase into the liquid. Black glaze, such as occurs on the earlier Italian fabrics, was produced from an alkaline silicate.

The ordinary unglazed wares were classified by Brongniart under four heads: (1) pale yellow; (2) red (dark red to red-brown; first century of Empire); (3) grey or ash-coloured (down to the end of the Western Empire); (4) black (mainly provincial). This distribution was in its general lines adopted by subsequent writers, such as Buckman and Birch, but was felt to be inadequate, and some slight modifications were adopted. For practical purposes, however, it will be found to work fairly well as a convenient method of grouping the commoner wares. None of them as a rule have any decoration. They will be considered in fuller detail in a subsequent chapter.

In the manufacture of vases the Romans used the same processes as the Greeks. They were made on the wheel (rota figularis  or orbis ), to which allusion is not infrequently made by the Latin poets, as in the well-known line of Horace:—

Amphora cepit
Institui; currente rota cur urceus exit?

And, again, in the phrase totus, teres, atque rotundus  he is doubtless referring to a vase just turned off the wheel. Tibullus speaks of “slippery clay fashioned on the wheel of Cumae”; and there are also allusions in Plautus and other writers. The simile has also been drawn upon by English poets. Specimens of potters' wheels have been found at Arezzo and at Nancy; these are made of terracotta, pierced in the centre for the axis of the pivot, and furnished at the circumference with small cylinders of lead, to give purchase for the hand and steadiness to the whirling wheel. Another from Lezoux, now in the Museum at Roanne, is figured by M. Déchelette. Most of the common wares were made by this process, except the dolia , or large casks, which were built up on a frame like the Greek pithos.

But for the ornamented vases with reliefs an additional process was necessary in order to produce the raised ornament, and they were in nearly all cases produced from moulds, like the lamps or terracotta figures and reliefs. The vases were still fashioned on the wheel, but this was done in the mould from which the reliefs were obtained. Occasionally the reliefs were modelled by hand or with the aid of tools, or even produced with a brush full of thick slip (en barbotine ), but moulding was the general rule. This method entailed three distinct stages, of which the first alone required artistic capacity; the other two were purely mechanical, requiring only a certain technical dexterity. The first was that of making the stamps from which the designs were impressed; the second, the making of the moulds; the third, impressing the clay in the mould.

The stamps were made of clay, gypsum, wood, or metal, and had a handle at the back for holding while pressing them into the mould; they were used not only for figures and ornamental designs, but also for the potter's signature (see below). Only clay examples, however, have been preserved, but some of these are admirable specimens. Frequently the subjects on the Arretine vases were taken, like those on lamps and mural reliefs, from existing works of art, especially from the “new Attic” reliefs to which allusion has already been made, and the stamps are directly copied from these sources. An instance of this is a stamp from Arezzo in the British Museum, with a beautiful figure of Spring (Plate LXVI. fig. 2), which finds its counterpart on a complete vase from Capua (Fig. 219), and also on a mural relief (B.M. D 583). Another good example in the same collection represents a slave bending over a vessel on a fire, and shielding his face from the heat with one hand. From the same site are two others representing respectively a boar and a lion. A fourth stamp found at Arezzo, with a tragic mask, is given in Fig. 211. The stamps must have been articles of commerce, and handed down from one potter to another, as the subjects are found repeated in different places; the majority were probably made at Arezzo and other important places in Italy.

Among examples from the provinces may be mentioned one in the British Museum (Romano-British collection), with the figure of a youth, inscribed OFFI (cina LIBERTI ; it is of fine terracotta, and was found at Mainz. A stamp with the figure of Paris or Atys is in the museum of the Philosophical Society at York. Other stamps in the form of a hare and a lion in the Sèvres Museum are inscribed with the name of Cerialis, a well-known German potter, whose name also occurs on a mould for a large bowl with a frieze of combatants in the British Museum, and in the former museum are six others, including one of a wolf, with the name of a Gaulish potter, Cobnertus. Von Hefner mentions one found at Rheinzabern with a figure of a gladiator at each end, inscribed P · ATTI · CLINI · O (fficina ), and others from Westerndorf with a lion and a horse. Dies for stamping the potters' names have been found at Lezoux in Auvergne, and in Luxemburg, with the names of Auster (AVSTRI · OF ) and Cobnertus, and Roach-Smith possessed one with the latter name; in the Sèvres Museum is also a stamp for making rows of pattern (see below), and at Rheinzabern one for an egg-and-tongue moulding was found.Specimens of these stamps are given in Fig. 211.


The moulds were made of a somewhat lighter clay than that of the vases, but it was essential that the material should be sufficiently porous to absorb the moisture of the pressed-in clay of the vase; sometimes holes for the water to escape through are visible. They were made on the wheel, and had a ridge on the exterior for convenience in handling; they were made whole, not in halves, but sometimes the vase was first made plain, and the figures were then attached from separate moulds, or rather made separately, as in the case of the “Megarian” bowls. Vases have been found in the Rhone valley ornamented with large appliqué medallions, and the separate moulds for these also exist; they seem to have been made at Vienne. The figures and ornaments were impressed into the moulds from the stamps while the paste was still soft, leaving hollow impressions to receive the clay of the vases. Similarly, continuous patterns, such as rows of beads or dots, were traced in the mould with a roller or wheel-like instrument on which the pattern was cut in relief. Any defects or careless arrangement in the completed vase would of course be due to a careless insertion of the stamps in the mould.

There are large numbers of moulds for Roman and provincial vases in existence, and the British Museum has a fine though fragmentary series from Arezzo, intended for some of the finest specimens of the local ware; of these more will be said in the following chapter. Many of these moulds have been found on sites of potteries in Gaul, especially in the Auvergne and Bourbonnais districts, and are collected in the Moulins, Roanne, St. Germain, and other museums. Lezoux was an important centre in this respect, and here also were found moulds for patterns and ornaments. In the British Museum (Romano-British collection) there is part of a mould for a shallow bowl, found at Rheinzabern, with stamped designs of a lion, boar, and hare pursuing one another; it is similar to the mould with Cerialis' name already described. These matrices  are usually of fine bright red clay, unglazed; they are very porous, rapidly absorbing moisture, and easily allowing the potter to withdraw the vessel from the mould. The importance of the discovery of moulds can hardly be overrated for the evidence they afford as to the site of potteries and centres of fabrics; it is obvious that where they are found, and only in such places, the vases must have been made; and that the discovery of a potter's name on any mould establishes his workshop at the place where it was found. Various tools for working the moulds, or touching up details or damaged parts of bronze and ivory, have been found on the sites of ancient potteries, as at Arezzo, but their use cannot be accurately determined.

The method of decoration known as en barbotine , which is a sort of cross between painting and relief, was achieved by the laying on of a semi-liquid clay slip with a brush, a spatula, or a small tube. The pattern was probably first lightly indicated, and the viscous paste was then laid on in thick lines or masses, producing a sort of low relief. The process was, as a rule, only employed for simple ornamentation, such as leaves, sprays, and garlands; but on the provincial black wares it finds a freer scope. On vases found in Britain and the adjoining parts of the Continent figures of animals are rendered in this manner, and on another class peculiar to Germany inscriptions are painted in a thick white slip. The colour of the slip did not necessarily correspond to the clay of the vase, and was, in fact, usually white. These vases are, however, technically poor, and the reliefs heavy and irregular. The process has been aptly compared to the sugar ornamentation on cakes.

Painted decoration is almost unknown in Roman pottery, and is, in fact, confined to the POCOLOM  series described in Chapter XI. It occurs in a rough and primitive form on some of the provincial fabrics, such as the Castor and Rhenish vases, but its place is really taken by the barbotine  method.

Engraved or incised decoration is exceedingly rare, and practically confined to provincial wares, which sometimes have incisions or undulations made over the surface with the fingernail in the moist clay.In the north of England, as at York, pottery is commonly found with wreaths and fan-patterns cut in intaglio  in the clay while moist. Others have patterns of four leaves 20 19four-leaf cut in the soft clay, or continuous ornaments round the vase made with the toothed roller-like instrument of which we have already spoken. Some of this ornamentation may be in imitation of contemporary glass vases. M. Déchelette has traced this fabric to Lezoux, and the specimens found in Britain are doubtless imported. A Gaulish example from the Morel Collection in the British Museum is given on Plate LXIX. fig. 4.

The feet and rims of the vases were made separately, and attached after their removal from the wheel, as were also the handles when required; but the rarity of handles in Roman pottery is remarkable. It is perhaps due to the difficulty of packing them safely for export. The next process was the preparation of the glaze, for those vases to which it was applied, followed by the baking.

Roman Pottery-Furnaces

The remains of pottery-kilns and furnaces discovered in various parts of Europe have furnished a considerable amount of valuable information on the system employed in baking the vases. On this particular point, indeed, we know far more in regard to Roman pottery than to Greek, although, as we have seen in Chapter V., the painted vases themselves sometimes yield information on the appearance and arrangement of the furnaces. But remains of actual furnaces have been found in many places in Western Europe, notably in Germany, France, and Britain, in a more or less complete state, as also in Italy, at Pompeii, Modena, and Marzabotto. A complete list of those known in 1863 has been given by Von Hefner, supplemented by Blanchet's lists of furnaces found in France (1898 and 1902).In Gaul the best examples are at Lezoux, near Clermont, at Châtelet in Haute-Marne, and at Belle-Vue, near Agen, in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne. The latter was circular in form, below the level of the soil. In Germany important remains have been found at Heiligenberg in Baden, Heddernheim near Frankfort, Rheinzabern near Karlsruhe, and Westerndorf. All these in general arrangement differ little from those in use at the present day; the Heddernheim furnace (Fig. 212) was found in the most perfect preservation, but was subsequently destroyed, not, however, before satisfactory plans and drawings had been made. In Britain by far the most important discoveries have been made at Castor, Chesterton, and Wansford in Northants, where the remains extend for some distance along the Nene valley. They were first explored by Artis in 1821-27, who published a magnificent series of plates in illustration, entitled Durobrivae ; these he supplemented by a full description in the Journal  of the British Archaeological Association. Castor and Chesterton (the latter in Hunts) are both on the site of Roman towns, and were the centres of a special local ware, described in a succeeding chapter. The potteries, being so numerous, are probably not all of the same age.


In 1677 four Roman kilns were discovered in digging under St. Paul's Cathedral for the foundation of Sir C. Wren's building, at a depth of 26 feet. They were made of loam, which had been converted into brick by the action of the fires, and were full of coarse pots and dishes; they measured 5 feet each way. A drawing made at the time is preserved among the Sloane MSS. in the British Museum. In the kilns was found pottery of the kind typical of London and the neighbourhood. In 1898 two kilns, one of large size, with pottery bearing the name CASTVS FECIT , were found near Radlett in Herts, and another was excavated in 1895 by Mr. C. H. Read at Shoeburyness. In Norfolk a kiln of somewhat curious form was found in the Roman settlement of Caistor by Norwich; the shape is that of a shallow concave depression with partitions, and it contained vases placed ready for baking. Another found between Buxton and Brampton was recorded by Sir Thomas Browne,and a third at Weybourne. In the South of England kilns have been found in the New Forest, where there was a manufacture of local pottery; in Alice Holt Forest near Petersfield, Hants; at Shepton Mallet in Somerset; and a potter's workshop at Milton Abbas, Dorset. The British Museum contains a model of a kiln unearthed at Worcester about forty years ago, on the site of the modern porcelain works. Finally, discoveries of kilns and pottery were made in 1819 at Colchester, and again in 1878, when five kilns, all of different forms, with local pottery, came to light.

To describe all these different types of furnaces in detail would of course be impossible, but much may be learnt from the very full, though now somewhat antiquated, descriptions of the Castor kilns given by Artis. It will be found more satisfactory to describe the generally-prevailing arrangements, noting the more important variations where they occur. It may further be laid down that the system was practically the same for terracotta figures and tiles as for pottery, and that in many cases both were made in the same furnace. But this was not invariably the case, and at Rheinzabern, for instance, the kilns for tiles were quadrangular, those for pottery circular.

The kilns were constructed partly of burnt, partly of unburnt brick, the interior, floor, and outside of the roofs being covered with a strong layer of cement. They consisted of two main portions, the fire-chamber with its adjuncts, and the vaulted chamber above, in which the objects to be baked are placed. The fire-chamber was usually circular, with a projection in front, the praefurnium  which had either a vaulted roof, as at Castor and Heiligenberg, or a gabled roof formed of pairs of tiles, as at Rheinzabern. Through this the fuel was introduced, consisting chiefly, as charcoal remains show, of pine-wood. The fire-chamber was either divided up, as at Castor, by walls radiating from a central pillar which supported the roof, or by rows of pillars in a line with the entrance, as at Rheinzabern and Heiligenberg. Holes were bored in the roof to allow the heat to penetrate through, but the arrangement varies; at Heiligenberg each division of the furnace was vaulted, making grooves along which the holes were bored. The oven where the pots were placed has been destroyed in most cases, but we know that it consisted of a floor, a wall with entrances, and a vaulted dome. The pots were ranged partly on the floor, partly on terracotta stands over the holes, as at Rheinzabern and Heiligenberg; at Lezoux there are remains of holes in the walls for iron bars to support them. Special arrangements seem to have been made for baking the finer wares, in order to ensure the proper spread of heat, and to guard against their being blackened or otherwise injured. In the Romano-British Room of the British Museum is a lump of bowls of red ware from Lezoux, fused together in the baking and cast aside.

One of the kilns at Castor (Fig. 213) is described by Artis as a circular hole 3 to 4 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter, walled round to a height of 2 feet; the praefurnium  was about a foot in length. In the centre of the circular hole was an oval pedestal (with one end pointing to the furnace-mouth), on which and on the side wall the floor was supported, being formed of perforated angular bricks meeting in the centre. The vaulted dome was composed of bricks moulded for the purpose, and the sides of the kiln of curved bricks set edgeways in a thick slip of the same material. Brongniart compares the Castor kiln with that at Heiligenberg, near Strasburg, and others in the Rhine valley in which “Samian” ware was made.


Another kiln found in 1844 Artis describes as having been “used for firing the common blue or slate-coloured pottery, and had been built on part of the site of one of the same kind, and within a yard and a half of one that had been constructed for firing pottery of a different description. The older exhausted kiln ... presented the appearance of very early work; the bricks had evidently been modelled with the hand, and not moulded, and the workmanship was altogether inferior to that of the others, which were also in a very mutilated state; but the character of the work, the bricks, the mouths of the furnaces, and the oval pedestals which supported the floors of the kilns, were still apparent.”

Artis was also of opinion that “the blue and slate-coloured vessels found here in such abundance were coloured by suffocating the fire of the kiln, at a time when its contents hadacquired a degree of heat sufficient to ensure uniformity of colour.” Hence he denominated kilns in which this ware was baked, “smother kilns.” He further notes that the bricks of this kiln “were made of clay mixed with rye in the chaff, which being consumed by the fire [i.e. in the baking of the bricks] left cavities in the room of the grains, which might have been intended to modify expansion and contraction, as well as to assist the gradual distribution of the colouring vapour. The mouth of the furnace and top of the kiln were no doubt stopped; thus every part of the kiln was penetrated with the colouring exhalation.” From experiments made on the local clays he proved to his own satisfaction that the colour could not have been produced by any metallic oxide, inherent or applied from without; and this view was supported by the appearance of the clay wrappers of the dome of the kiln. But in view of recent researches, such as those of Blümner, it is doubtful whether Artis' theories can now be upheld. As Mr. Haverfield has pointed out, the dark colour may be due to the chemical action of the carbonaceous vapour of the smothered kiln rather than to any “colouring exhalation.”

The process of packing the kiln in order to secure uniform heat in firing is thus described by the same writer: “The kilns were first carefully loose-packed with the articles to be fired, up to the height of the side walls. The circumference of the bulk was then gradually diminished, and finished in the shape of a dome. As this arrangement progressed, an attendant seems to have followed the packer, and thinly covered a layer of pots with coarse hay or grass. He then took some thin clay, the size of his hand, and laid it flat on the grass upon the vessels; he then placed more grass on the edge of the clay just laid on, and then more clay, and so on until he had completed the circle. By this time the packer would have raised another tier of pots, the plasterer following as before, hanging the grass over the top edge of the last layer of plaster, until he had reached the top, in which a small aperture was left, and the clay nipt round the edge; another coating would be laid on as before described. Gravel or loam was then thrown up against the side wall where the clay wrappers were commenced, probably to secure the bricks and the clay coating. In consequence of the care taken to place grass between the edges of the wrappers, they could be unpacked in the same-sized pieces as when laid on in a plastic state, and thus the danger in breaking the coat to obtain the contents of the kiln could be obviated.”

In the course of his excavations Artis discovered a singular furnace, “of which I have never before or since met with an example. Over it had been placed two circular earthen fire vessels (or cauldrons); that next above the furnace was a third less than the other, which would hold about eight gallons. The fire passed partly under both of them, the smoke escaping by a smoothly-plastered flue, from seven to eight inches wide. The vessels were suspended by the rims fitting into a circular groove or rabbet, formed for the purpose.” He was strongly of opinion that this furnace was used for producing glazed wares by means of iron oxide. Whether this is so or not, it is interesting to note that in the British Museum and Museum of Geology there are cakes of vitreous matter from Castor, probably used as a glaze, and consisting of silicates of soda and lime.

The kiln found at Caistor, in Norfolk, was apparently used for baking the grey Roman ware, and differed in form from those described, which were for the black, being only calculated for a slight degree of baking. It was a regular oval, measuring 6 feet 4 inches in breadth. The furnace holes were filled in below with burnt earth of a red colour, and in the upper part with peat; the exterior was formed of strong blue clay of 6 inches in thickness, and the interior lined with peat; the kiln was intersected by partitions of blue clay. Some of the vases were inverted and filled with a core of white sand.


The furnaces at Heiligenberg and Rheinzabern present the following further peculiarities. The former, which were evidently used for the baking of red wares, had a flue in the form of a long channel with arched vault, the mouth being over 8 feet from the space where the flames and heat were concentrated under the oven (Fig. 214). Numerous pipes of terracotta, of varying diameter, diverged from the upper part or floor of the oven, to distribute the heat; in the outer wall of the oven was a series of smaller ones, and twelve or fifteen of larger size opened under the floor of the oven to distribute the heat and flame round the pots (Fig. 215). The mouths of the pipes were sometimes stopped with baked clay stoppers to moderate the heat. The upper part or dome of the kiln is never found entire, having been generally destroyed here, as elsewhere, by the superincumbent earth. Walls of strong masonry separated and protected the space between the mouth of the flue and the walls of the oven, and the floor of the latter was made of terracotta tiles.


At Rheinzabern, where excavations were made in 1858, fifteen furnaces were found, some round and others square, but all constructed on the same plan. The floor of the oven was over 3 feet below the top of the walls, and was covered with tiling, the walls being formed of rough slabs of clay, about 28 by 16 inches in size. The floors of the ovens were in some cases supported by bricks covered with a coating of clay. Stands of baked clay in the shape of flattened cylinders supported the pots in the oven, and these rested on pads of a peculiar form, roughly modelled in clay. In all, seventy-seven pottery-kilns and thirty-six tile-kilns were discovered on this site.

The following list, though by no means claiming to be exhaustive, gives the names of the chief potteries where actual furnaces have been discovered.

1. Italy
Marzabotto Mon. Antichi , i. p. 282.
Modena Bull. dell' Inst. 1875, p. 192.
Oria Ibid. 1834, p. 56.
Pompeii Mau-Kelsey, Pompeii, p. 386.
Pozzuoli Bonner Jahrb. xcvi. p. 54.
2. France
Dept. of Ain St.-Martin-du-Mont Blanchet, Melanges , p. 107.
Allier Champ-Lary Blanchet, p. 89.
Lubié    ”      p. 95.
St.-Bonnet     ”      p. 96.
St.-Didier-en-Rollat     ”      p. 96.
St.-Rémy-en-Rollat     ”      p. 96; Déchelette, i. p. 41 ff.
Vichy Blanchet, p. 95.
Aube Nogent-sur-Seine     ”      p. 106.
Aveyron Graufesenque     ”      p. 97; Déchelette, i. p. 64 ff.
Dept. of Bouches-du-Rhône Arles Roach-Smith, Collect. Antiq. vii. p. 13.
Auriol Blanchet, p. 98.
Marseilles    ”      p. 98.
Charente Jarnac    ”      p. 101.
Chez Ferroux    ”      p. 102.
Eure-et-Loire Chartres    ”      p. 104.
Gard Uzès    ”      p. 99.
Haute-Garonne Vieille-Toulouse    ”      p. 101.
Haute-Marne Châtelet Brongniart, Traité, i. p. 439.
Haute-Saône Luxueil Blanchet, p. 107.
Ille-et-Vilaine Redon    ”      p. 102.
Indre-et-Loire Nouâtre    ”      p. 104.
Loire Montverdun    ”      p. 96.
Loire-Inférieure Herbignac    ”      p. 102.
Loire-et-Cher Thoré   ”      p. 104.
Lot Cahors    ”      p. 100.
Mélines    ”      p. 101.
Lot-et-Garonne Agen    ”      p. 101; Rev. Arch. xviii. (1868), pl. 23.
Lozère Banassac Blanchet, p. 97; Déchelette, i. p. 117.
Nièvre Chantenay Blanchet, p. 96.
Gravier    ”      p. 96.
Oise Bois-Ibert    ”      p. 105.
Compiègne (Forest of)   ”      p. 104.
Mont-de-Hermes, Beauvais    ”      p. 105.
Sampigny    ”      p. 105.
Orne Chandai    ”      p. 103.
Pas-de-Calais Avesnes-le-Comte    ”      p. 106.
Puy-de-Dôme Clermont-Ferrand    ”      p. 95.
Lezoux    ”      p. 93; Déchelette, i. p. 141 ff.
Thiers Blanchet, p. 94.
Rhône Lyons    ”      p. 100.
Sarthe Grand-Lucé   ”      p. 103.
Seine Paris    ”      p. 104.
Seine-Inférieure Incheville    ”      p. 103.
Somme Amiens Blanchet, p. 106.
Tarn Montans    ”      p. 97.
Tarn-et-Garonne Castelnau-de-Montratier    ”      p. 97.
Muret    ”      p. 97.
Vendée Trizay    ”      p. 102.
Yonne Sens    ”      p. 106.

[See also Blanchet, p. 90 ff. for sites of furnaces for terracotta figures.]

3. Germany
Alttrier, Luxemburg Von Hefner, p. 60.
Bergheim Blanchet, Mélanges Gallo-rom. ii. p. 108.
Bonn Bonner Jahrb. lxxiv. p. 152; lxxxiv. p. 118.
Cannstadt Von Hefner, p. 61.
Cologne Bonner Jahrb. lxxix. p. 178.
Commern Ibid. iv. p. 203.
Dalheim, Luxemburg Von Hefner, p. 61.
Dieburg     ”      p. 61.
Güglingen Bonner Jahrb. i. p. 74.
Heddernheim Ann. dell' Inst. 1882, p. 183.
Heidelberg Bonner Jahrb. lxii. p. 7.
Heiligenberg Brongniart, Traité, i. p. 427; Blanchet, Mélanges Gallo-rom. ii. p. 108.
Heldenbergen Westd. Zeitschr. für Gesch. u. Kunst , xviii. (1899), pl. 4, p. 227.
Herbishofen Von Hefner, p. 61.
Nassenfels     ”      p. 61.
Petzel, Luxemburg     ”      p. 61.
Rheinzabern     ”      p. 61; Brongniart, i. p. 429.
Riegel Von Hefner, p. 61.
Rottenburg Bonner Jahrb. iv. p. 141.
Schönbuch, Würtemberg Blanchet, p. 108.
Trier     ”      p. 108.
Waiblingen Von Hefner, p. 61.
Westheim     ”      p. 62.
Westerndorf     ”      p. 62.
4. England
Dorset, Milton Abbas Roach-Smith, Collect. Antiq. vi. p. 191.
Essex, Ashdon Arch. Journ. x. p. 21.
   ”     Colchester Roach-Smith, Collect. Antiq. ii. p. 38, vii. pls. 1-3, p. 1 ff.; Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. xxxiii. p. 267.
   ”     Shoeburyness Proc. Soc. Antiqs. 2nd Ser. xvi. p. 40.
Hampshire, Alice Holt Forest Vict. County Hist. i. p. 306.
   ”     New Forest Ibid. p. 326.
Hertfordshire, Radlett Proc. Soc. Antiqs. 2nd Ser. xvii. p. 261.
Huntingdon, Sibson and Water Newton Vict. County Hist. Northants , i. p. 175.
Kent, Upchurch Roach-Smith, Collect. Antiq. vi. p. 178;Archaeologia , li. p. 467.
Lancashire, Warrington Reliquary , 1900, p. 263.
Middlesex, London (St. Paul's)Roach-Smith, Ill. Rom. Lond. p. 79.
Norfolk, Brampton Vict. County Hist. i. p. 314.
   ”     Caistor-by-Norwich Ibid. p. 291; Archaeologia , xxxvi. p. 413.
   ”     Caistor-by-Yarmouth Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc., xxxvi. p. 206.
   ”     Weybourne Vict. County Hist. i. p. 322.
Northants, Castor, Wansford, Bedford Purlieus Vict. County Hist. i. p. 166 ff., 206 ff.
Oxfordshire, Headington Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. vi. p. 60.
   ”     Littlemore Ibid. liv. p. 349.
Somerset, Shepton Mallet Gentleman's Mag. 1864, ii. p. 770.
Suffolk, West Stow Heath Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. xxxvii. p. 152.
Worcester Vict. County Hist. i. p. 207 (a model in Brit. Mus.).

[On the subject generally reference may be made to Brongniart, Traité, i. p. 426; De Caumont, Cours d'ant. Monum. ii. (for Heiligenberg); Von Hefner, Römische Topferei , in Oberbayr. Archiv für vaterl. Gesch. xxii. (1863), p. 60 (where a complete list of furnaces up to date is given); Bonner Jahrbücher , lxii. 1878, p. 7 ff.; Wolff in Westdeutsche Zeitschrift für Gesch. u. Kunst , xviii. (1899), p. 211 ff.; Blümner, Technologie , ii. p. 23 ff.; Smith, Dict. of Antiqs. i. p. 845 (art. Fictile ); and for Gaulish sites, Blanchet, Mélanges Gallo-romaines , ii. p. 93 ff.]

Roman Pottery, Historically Treated; Arretine Ware

In the present chapter we propose to discuss the origin and character of the finer Roman pottery, or red glazed ware with designs in relief, which is usually known to modern writers under the convenient designation of terra sigillata , a phrase which has already been explained. Not only in clay and glaze but in decoration these wares are characteristically Roman; but the question as to the actual centre or centres of their manufacture still admits of some discussion.

Relying principally upon the testimony of Pliny, Martial, and other ancient writers, archaeologists have been accustomed to classify the red ware with reliefs, on a rough system of distinction according to artistic merit, as Arretine, Samian, and “false Samian.” The latter term “Samian” has indeed acquired such popularity that it has passed into the language as a conventional term of almost every-day use; but to the scientific investigator it has long been apparent that in point of accuracy it almost stands on a level with that of “Etruscan vase.” That of “false Samian” has usually been applied to a certain class of provincial wares, technically inferior to the “Samian.” But though both terms may still retain currency in popular language for the sake of convenience, it must not be supposed that they are impressed with the hall-mark of scientific terminology.

Before however we attempt to distinguish the different fabrics on the basis of recent researches, it may be as well to investigate the statements of the classical writers and weigh the evidence which they afford on the various kinds of pottery in use in Italy under the Roman Empire.

The most valuable information is found in the pages of Pliny, supplemented by Isidorus of Seville, who, writing in the seventh century, probably gives merely second-hand information. The former says: “The majority of mankind use earthenware vessels. Samian ware is commended even at the present day for dinner services; this reputation is also kept up by Arretium in Italy, and for drinking-cups by Surrentum, Hasta, Pollentia, Saguntum in Spain, and Pergamum in Asia. Tralles is also a centre for pottery, and Mutina in Italy ... and exportation from the celebrated potteries goes on all over the world.” Isidorus, who largely quotes from Pliny, gives the tradition that Samos was the seat of the original invention of pottery, “whence too came Samian vases.” He goes on to say that “Arretine vases are so called from Arretium, a town in Italy where they are made, for they are red.” But in regard to “Samian ware” he admits that there is another explanation of the term, namely that it is a corruption of Samnia. Herein he is possibly not far from the truth, for we have already seen that the adjacent region of Campania was in the last few centuries of the Republic famous as a centre for relief-wares, and it is possible that the manufacture of such pottery was carried on in the district, as for instance at Puteoli, long afterwards. We also know that Allifae in Samnium was a seat of this industry, and that a special class of pottery was made at Ocriculum and at Mevania in Umbria about 200 B.C..

On the other hand there is no doubt that Samos had a reputation for its pottery for many centuries, as is implied by the tradition which Isidorus quotes and by the words of Pliny: “even at the present day it is commended.” In a previous chapter it has been suggested that the so-called Megarian bowls, which undoubtedly are a prototype of the Roman wares, represent the Samian pottery of the Hellenistic period; but whether this is so or not, the most probable conclusion is that the term “Samian” connotes in the first instance a Greek, not a Roman, fabric; that this Greek ware was imported into Italy; and that it became so popular that the term really came into use for native products, just as now-a-days we are able to speak of “China” which has travelled no further than from Worcester, Sèvres, or Dresden. It may thus have become a generic name for table-ware. Plautus mentions Samian ware more than once (see above, p. 456), usually with reference to its brittleness, as in the Menaechmi , where Menaechmus says, “Knock gently!” to which the parasite Peniculus replies: “I suppose you are afraid the doors are Samian.” Again in the Bacchides , with a jesting allusion to Samos as the home of one of the two heroines: “Take care, please, that no one handles her carelessly; you know how easily a Samian vase gets broken.” In another passage he speaks of a Samiolum poterium . And Tertullian, speaking of Numa's times, says that only Samian vases were as yet in use.

Pliny also mentions Pergamum and Tralles as centres of fabrics, and speaks of the firmitas  or toughness of that of Kos, but of these we know nothing further. It has been pointed out by Dragendorff that there was some manufacture of terra sigillata  in Asia Minor under the Empire, probably an imitation of the Italian ware, as the examples known present the same characteristics as the provincial wares of Central Europe, and the forms are also those of the Arretine vases. The same writer has shown that there were also manufactures of terra sigillata  in Greece itself, in Egypt, and in Southern Russia, which were of similar character.

To return to Italy and its local fabrics. It is not to be supposed that there was any one principal centre, for different towns excelled in their respective wares, and these were imported from one to the other, and especially into Rome. This city was of course originally supplied with earthenware by the Etruscans, whose mantle fell on the town of Arretium, but it cannot be doubted that the manufacture of pottery must have been carried on to some extent in Rome itself after the absorption of the Etruscan people. We read that even in Numa's time there was a Guild of Potters, but it never appears to have excelled in any of the finer wares, and is ignored by Pliny, though we have evidence from other sources. Thus Martial speaks of cadi Vaticani , and Juvenal of fragile dishes from the Vatican hill. Cato says dolia  are best bought in Rome, tiles at Venafrum. And the evidence of a pottery in the third and second centuries B.C. on the Esquiline which is given by the find of lamps described in Chapter XX. is supported by Festus.

Pliny, as we have seen, mentions Arretium, Hasta and Pollentia, Mutina and Surrentum with commendation; he also couples the pottery of Hadria with that of Kos for firmitas . He further implies that Arretium kept up the old pre-eminence of the Samian ware, and this is borne out, not only by what we gather from Martial and other writers, but still more by modern discoveries, of which we shall shortly speak in detail. Of the other potteries less is known, but remains have been found at Hasta and Pollentia (Asti and Pollenza in Piedmont) and the figlinae  of Velleia in the same region were also well known in antiquity. At Mutina (Modena) remains of a pottery were found, together with vases of Arretine type, and the potter Fortis, whose name so often occurs on lamps, appears to have had his workshop here. His stamps are also found on tiles and on pottery of all kinds, even Arretine. Here, too, were found vases of black ware, of “Graeco-Campanian” style, sometimes with stamps impressed from gems, and unglazed red plates stamped with small palmettes like the Greek black-glazed wares. Livy mentions that in 176 B.C. a great destruction took place here of “all kinds of vases, made more for use than for ornament.” In their general results the pottery-finds are instructive as showing the transition from black to red wares, which may also be observed in the vases of Popilius and the early Arretine fabrics (see below).

Campania in general seems to have maintained the traditions of the Calene and Etrusco-Campanian fabrics of the third century, and there is evidence of manufacture and export in the first century B.C. Horace's table was supplied with Campana supellex . Surrentum ware is mentioned by Martial as well as Pliny, and, as indicated in the preceding chapter, supplied amphorae of local wine to Pompeii. The pottery of Cumae, which place was at an earlier date an important centre for painted vases, is mentioned by Martial It would also seem to have supplied clay for the vases made at the neighbouring Puteoli, which had no local clay suitable for the purpose, and is not mentioned by ancient writers. The latter has however yielded large numbers of vases of a type closely resembling the Arretine, and a pottery was discovered in 1874, with moulds. Some of the vases have Arretine stamps, which imply importations during the first century B.C., but names of local potters are also known, chief of whom is Numerius Naevius Hilarus, who employed eleven slaves. Q. Pomponius Serenus and L. Valerius Titus are also found here and elsewhere in Southern Italy and at Nismes. Some fragments of this Puteoli ware from various sources are in the British Museum.

Horace speaks of pottery from Allifae in Samnium, and Pliny mentions the popularity of that made at Rhegium and Cumac; this exhausts the list of sites known to us from ancient writers. In the provinces the only place which had any fame was Saguntum, alluded to by Pliny and more than once by Martial, who speaks of cups (pocula  and cymbia ) fashioned from Saguntine clay; also of a synthesis septenaria  or nest of seven cups, “polished by the potter's coarse tool, of clay turned on the Spanish wheel.” But modern researches on the site have not thrown any light on the character of the local fabric; it is only at Tarragona that terra sigillata  has been found.

The pottery of Arretium is more than once referred to by Martial, who notes that it compared unfavourably with the splendour of crystal vessels, but at the same time begs his hearer not to regard it altogether with contempt, for Porsena was well served with his Tuscan earthenware:

Arretina nimis ne spernas vasa monemus;
Lautus erat Tuscis Porsena fictilibus.

An epigram in the Latin Anthology (259) says:

Arretine calix, mensis decor ante paternis,
Ante manus medici quam bene sanus eras.

Other allusions are less direct. Coming down to more modern times, we actually find mention of the pottery in a manuscript written by Sig. Ristori of Arezzo in 1282, and by C. Villani in his History of the World , written in the fourteenth century. Subsequently Alessi, who lived in the time of Leo X., described the discovery of red ware about a mile from the city, and Vasari tells us that in 1484 his grandfather found in the neighbourhood three vaults of an ancient furnace. Further allusions are found in the writings of Gori (1734) and Rossi (1796); and in 1841 Fabroni published a history of Arretine ware, in which the above facts are recorded. He tells us that in 1779 potteries were unearthed at Cincelli or Centum Cellae, which contained, besides various implements, part of a potter's wheel, resembling those in vogue at the present day. It was composed of two circular slabs placed round one pivot at an interval from one another, their diameter not being the same. The wheel actually found was of terracotta, about 11 inches in diameter by 3 inches in thickness, with a groove round the edge. It was bound with a leaden tyre, held in place by six cylinders of the same metal, and appears to have been the upper of the two slabs, the “table” on which the clay was placed.

The Arretine ware must be regarded as the  Roman pottery par excellence . The term was used anciently in an extended sense for all vases of a certain technique without regard to the place of manufacture, as a piece of evidence from Spain tends to show. Pottery has been found at Tarragona with the inscription, A TITII FIGVL ARRE A. Titii figul(i) Arre(tini ), which has generally been taken to mean a maker of Arretine ware living on the spot, just as now-a-days Wilton or Brussels carpets may be made at Kidderminster.

The general characteristics of the Arretine ware are: (1) the fine local red clay, carefully worked up and baked very hard to a rich coral-colour, or like sealing-wax; (2) the fine red glaze, composed chiefly of silica, iron oxide, and an alkaline substance, which, as we have seen, was perhaps borax; (3) the great variety of forms employed, which show in a marked degree the influence of metal-work; (4) the stamps with potter's names, which are almost invariably found. The duration of this pottery seems to have been from about 150 B.C. to the end of the first century of the Empire, at which time pottery in Italy had reached a very degenerate stage, and the height of its success and popularity was during the first century B.C. Analyses of the vases show that practically the same results as to their composition are obtained from different periods.

During the last century these vases have been found in large numbers at Arezzo, and there is now a considerable quantity of them collected in the public museum of that city, as well as in private collections and the museums of other countries. The official record of Italian excavations contains an account of finds made in 1883, 1884, 1890, 1894, and 1896 on various sites in the city and immediate neighbourhood, and gives the locality of the different potteries, as well as the names of their owners. The first potter's name recorded was that of Calidius Strigo by Alessi; it was found in 1492 in the presence of Giovanni de' Medici, afterwards Leo X. Others were given by Gori, and fuller lists (up to date) by Fabroni in 1841, Gamurrini in 1859, and Marini in 1884. At the present day the most complete information on this head may be found in the recently published volume of the Corpus  of Latin inscriptions dealing with Etruria, in which the results of the most recent excavations are incorporated. A large number have also been found at Rome, the names being identical with those found at Arezzo, and the ware consequently imported. It must be distinguished from the inferior relief wares either of local fabric (see p. 492) or imported from Gaul, Northern Italy, and elsewhere. Names of Arretine potters are also found in large numbers at Modena, Rimini, and other places in Northern Italy, in France, Spain, and elsewhere.

The stamps range in date from the second century B.C. down to the Christian era, but not beyond the first century of the Empire. The oldest of all, it is interesting to note, are found on black-glazed wares similar in character to those from the Esquiline. The red-glazed ware probably came in about 100 B.C., and the two methods appear to have been for a time contemporaneous. The initials Q A · F  and C · V which occur on early red Arretine wares are also found on the Esquiline lamps. Next comes the red ware with quadrangular stamps repeated four or five times on the bottom, followed by single quadrangular stamps and those of varying form, especially some in the shape of a foot, which are not found in the best period at Arretium, and seem to belong only to the time of the Empire. This form of stamp is very common on lamps and plain pottery, and there are many examples of bronze stamps in this shape extant. Those vases which have stamps on the exterior in the midst of the design represent the middle or Augustan period. The older stamps are more deeply impressed in the surface of the vase than the later. On the whole, the palaeographical evidence of the stamps is very slight, and we can only roughly date them between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. Dragendorff has, however, noted that the slaves' names are mostly Greek, a detail which helps to establish a terminus post quem , placing them later than 146 B.C.

The Calidius Strigo of whom we have already spoken was a potter of some importance, employing twenty slaves, of whom the names of Protus and Synistor occur most frequently. But he only seems to have made plain table wares without reliefs, examples of which are found in Rome and elsewhere. A potter named Domitius had a workshop on the same spot, but only employed a few slaves. A more important name is that of Publius Cornelius, first found by Ferdinando Rossi in the eighteenth century at Cincelli, together with remains of his workshop; many additional examples were found in 1883 and 1892. He employed no less than forty slaves, of whom the best known are Antioc(h)us, Faustus, Heraclides, Primus, and Rodo. One vase by the last-named has medallions with the head of Augustus and the inscription, AVGVSTVS , which gives the date of the fabric. Previous to the discovery of this in 1893 Gamurrini had supposed that Cornelius was one of the colonists placed at Arezzo by Sulla. Many of his vases are found at Rome, and also in Spain and Southern Italy. The vases with CORNELI  in a foot-shaped stamp are probably not his. He appears to have acquired the business of two other potters—C. Tellius and C. Cispius.

Among all the potters' stamps few are commoner than that of M. Perennius, and his wares certainly take the highest rank for their artistic merit. All his relief designs are copied from the best Greek models, as will be seen later. Few of his vases seem to have been exported to Rome, but they are found in Spain and Southern Gaul. The form of the name on the stamps varies greatly, the commonest being M. PERENNI M. PEREN.M. PERE., and M. PER. are also found, and even M. PE. with the letters joined in a monogram. He employed seventeen slaves, of whom the best known is Tigranes. His name appears as TIGRAN TIGRA , or TIGR , and always in conjunction with that of Perennius. These two are found on a vase with Achilles and Diomede fighting against Hector, and on three Arretine moulds in the British Museum, the subjects of which are a dance of Maenads, masks of Maenads and Satyrs, and a banquet scene (Plate LXVI. figs. 4, 6). The name of Tigranes appears alone on a fine vase in the Louvre with the apotheosis of Herakles. Another slave, Cerdo, made a vase with the nine Muses, their names being inscribed over them in Greek. A third slave who produced vases of more than average merit was Bargates, whose name is found on a fine vase in the Boston Museum (Fig. 218), the subject of which is the fall of Phaëthon, who lies shattered in pieces on the ground, with Tethys coming to his rescue. Zeus with his thunderbolt and Artemis with her bow have brought about his downfall. Helios is seen collecting his terrified steeds; and the rest of the design is occupied with the transformation of the Heliades into poplars.

From Philologus .

The site of Perennius' principal workshop appears to have been in the city itself, close to the church of Sta. Maria in Gradi; but he may also have had a branch manufactory at Cincelli or Centum Cellae. Signor Pasqui notes that his name occurs alone on the interior of plain bowls and dishes. Next to these come the copies of Greek models by Cerdo, Pilades, Pilemo, and Nicephorus, followed by Tigranes, and then by Bargates, who also worked for Tigranes when he became a freedman (the stamps being in the form BARGATE
); lastly occur the names of Crescens and Saturninus.

Three Annii had a pottery near the church of San Francesco, and employed over twenty slaves, with both Greek and Roman names; the most important of the three is C. Annius, who made vases with reliefs, as did Lucius, but Sextus only made plain wares. There are also vases stamped ANNI  only; they probably belong to the first century B.C. Aulus Titius is found frequently at Arezzo and Rimini, at Lillebonne in France, and, as we have seen, in Spain; his wares also penetrated to Africa and all parts of Italy. He has no names of slaves coupled with his, and his signature appears in the various forms, A. Titi ,A. Titi figul.A. Titi figul. Arret . He was succeeded by C. Titius Nepos, who had fifteen slaves, and there is also a L. Titius. C. and L. Tettius occur at Rome, but only the latter at Arezzo; the word SAMIA , which occurs on his stamps, is more likely to be a proper name than to have any reference to Samian ware. The name of Rasinius, which is associated with more names of slaves than any except P. Cornelius, is found more often at Rome than at Arezzo; it also occurs at Pompeii, and at Neuss in Germany, which facts point to the time of Augustus and A.D. 79 as the limits of date. Of the numerous slaves, some were afterwards employed by C. Memmius. There appear to have been at least two representatives of the name, C. Rasinius in the Augustan period, and L. Rasinius Pisanus in the Flavian. The latter Déchelette has shown to be a degenerate Arretine, making imitations of Gaulish ware. L. and C. Petronius are found at Arezzo, together with remains of their potteries, and C. Gavius, whobelongs to the Republican period, at Cincelli. Numerous other potters who are probably Arretine may be found in Ihm's lists; on the other hand, there are stamps found at Rome and in Etruria which cannot have originated from Arretium. Such are Atenio circitor refi(ciendum) curavit , and Faustus Salinator Seriae ; those with OF (ficina ), such as OF · FELICIS , which are found at Rome, but are probably Gaulish; those with fecit  or epoei  (ἐποίει), with the exception of Venicius fecit hec , from Arezzo; and Atrane , a name found at Vulci, Chiusi, and many other sites in Etruria, but not at Arezzo.

The name usually given in the signatures on the stamps is that of the maker only; sometimes a slave's name is added, either above or below the maker's, or on a separate stamp. The maker's name usually gives the nomen  and praenomen , implying a freedman, and when given in full is seen to be in the genitive; the slave's name is usually in the nominative. Four typical varieties are given by the following stamps from the pottery of P. Cornelius, with the name of the slave Potus:

POTVS       P·CORN      POTI      P·CORN
P·COR       POTVS      P·CORN      POTI

A difficulty sometimes arises in regard to these two-line stamps when the slave's name occurs below that of the master, on account of the frequent abbreviations; for instance, it is not easy to say whether such stamps as A·VIBI
 denote one name or two, for there are certain instances where the master has three names. It is always possible that the name denotes a slave become a freedman, as A. Vibius Diomedes or P. Cornelius Anthus, and in Dr. Dressel's opinion this is the most probable explanation; but the alternative has much in its favour. There are, moreover, stamps such as     P·MESEINI
AMPLIO S (ervus )
FIRMVS F (ecit )
 which, of course, leave no room for doubt. In later examples the praenomen  is often omitted, and occasionally the praenomen  and cognomen  are found without the gentile name; there are also a few instances of female names. An exceptional form of signature is given by CINNA C·L·TITI (orum S (ervus ); occasionally also, as in the example from Spain already quoted, FIGVL (us ARRE (tinus ), or simply ARRETI (nus ), are found. Sometimes, again, two potters seem to have been in partnership, as Sura and Philologus, L. Gellius and L. Sempronius (L·GELLI L SEMP ), or two firms, as the Umbricii and Vibieni.

The simple quadrangular form of stamp is by far the commonest, and, next to this, an outline of a foot; less frequent forms, and of later date, are the circular, oval, or lunate, and other varieties of marks, such as wreaths, stars, or branches. Dr. Dressel gives no less than eighty-seven types from Rome, of which thirty-three are rectangular with ornamental edges. The forms of the letters are not always an indication of date, but such forms as 15 14Attic alpha 15 15alpha for A, 15 12E for E, and 15 12F for F betoken an early date. Ligatured letters abound. The names are often written from right to left, or left to right with separate letters reversed or inverted; or the words are broken up as MVS
 for Docimus, ANV
 for Romanu(s), and so on. The stamps were probably of wood, but some are taken from seal-rings.

The forms of Arretine vases are all, without exception, borrowed from metal originals, and in their contours display the same tendency. But, as compared with the Hellenistic forms they show great simplicity, and almost, as it were, a return to archaism. The vases are for the most part of small size, and indeed the dimensions of the furnaces at Arezzo seem to indicate that larger vases could not have been baked in them. They are principally cups, bowls, and dishes, the former of hemispherical or cylindrical form and devoid of handles—a characteristic which usually distinguishes Roman from Greek pottery. Some of the moulds for Arretine ware in the British Museum collection appear to have been used for a deep cup with flat base and spreading lip (Plate LXVI. fig. 5), of a type which finds no parallel in Greek shapes, but the hemispherical bowl on a low foot is the prevailing form. Other shapes are extremely rare, a notable exception being the beautiful krater in the British Museum with figures of the Seasons (Fig.219), which, although found at Capua, is certainly Arretine in style and technique. The technical methods employed we have already described in the preceding chapter, and there do not appear to have been any variations peculiar to this fabric. Fabroni (p. 37) states that cinerary urns, tiles, lamps, and reliefs were also made in the potteries at Arretium.


The prototypes of the forms we have seen to be the Hellenistic vases of chased metal, for which Alexandria was the principal centre. But, apart from form, it is doubtful whether the Alexandrine toreutic work exercised much influence on the potters of Arretium. For the decoration and subjects they undoubtedly drew their inspiration chiefly from the New-Attic reliefs and the art of Asia Minor, as has been pointed out by more than one recent writer, who have urged that the influence of Alexandria on Roman art has been greatly over-estimated. Dragendorff points out that all the famous chasers known to us were natives of Asia Minor, and thinks that Rhodes was probably the centre of this art. It must also be borne in mind that the second century was the era of collecting works of art in Greece and Asia Minor and conveying them to Rome, so that the examples which were most prominently before the eyes of Italian artists under the later Republic were just these products of Greece and Asia Minor in the Hellenistic Age. Moreover, the Rhodian and Pergamene schools of art were still living when that of Alexandria was dying out under the later Ptolemies. The mixed style of art of the first century B.C. is essentially Roman, produced under the influence of the Greek works then collected in Rome, and does not extend beyond Italy.

But it is also conceivable that its predecessors in the line of ceramic development contributed to produce the ware of Arretium. It recalls in some respects the Calene phialae of the third century, and the so-called Megarian or Homeric bowls, in which some have seen the real “Samian” ware of the Roman writers, dating from the same period. To these succeeded in Hellenic lands the fabrics of Athens, Southern Russia, and Asia Minor, to which allusion has already been made, and which often present similar characteristics to the Arretine fabrics. Nor must it be forgotten that the earliest Arretine pottery was covered with a black glaze, which may indeed represent a desire to reproduce the effect of metal, but is much more likely to be a direct heritage from the late Greek pottery, which in this respect carried on the tradition of the painted wares. At all events, two main characteristics of Hellenistic pottery have plainly left their mark on Roman fabrics: the disappearance of painting under the influence of relief decoration imitated from metal, and the cessation of the exclusive use of a black varnish.

The transition seems to be partially effected by a small group of vases which have been styled “Italian Megarian bowls” or “Vases of Popilius,” after the potter C. Popilius, whose name occurs on many of them. They form a distinct class, dating apparently from the third century B.C., on the testimony of the inscriptions; the form is that of a hemispherical bowl without handle or foot, with very thin walls, and covered with a slip of varying colour—yellow, brown, or black. These bowls, too, are a close imitation of metal-work, especially in the arrangement of the reliefs. The ornament usually consists of long leaves and scrolls radiating from a rosette on the foot and bordered above by bands of wave- or tongue-pattern, scrolls, or garlands; the ground is filled in with stars, shields, and other devices. In the finer examples a frieze of figures is added, with such motives as Erotes, masks, dolphins, and ox-skulls repeated. The bowl of Popilius published by Hartwig is the only one with a definite subject: a fight between Greeks and Barbarians, which is an undoubted reminiscence of the famous mosaic at Pompeii with Alexander at the Issus. Eleven bowls by Popilius are known, two by L. Appius (see Fig. 220), and one each by L. Atinius and L. Quintius. The first-named potter seems to have lived partly at Ocriculum, partly at Mevania in Umbria; both he and Appius also made “Calene” ware. These potters were freedmen, as the use of the two names indicates. Their work does not show the fine glaze of the Calene and Arretine fabrics, but is decorative in its effect; each ornamental motive is produced from a separate stamp, and the potter's marks are put on en barbotine .


To sum up with Dragendorff, it is clear that a careful study of Hellenistic pottery is necessary for a correct estimate of the Italian and Roman. As in the case of other arts, it proves that the Romans were merely receptive, at best only developing what they received. This development began with the importation of Greek relief-wares with black varnish, especially from Asia Minor, and their imitation at Cales. Then, as in Greece, so in Italy, the search for new forms, colouring, and decoration began and brought about a degeneration of technique. What the Calene vases are to those of Asia Minor, so are the vases of Popilius to the “Megarian” bowls. Finally, the finds in Southern Russia show that even the technique of the red-glazed ware is not an Arretine invention, but was already known to the Greeks, although first brought to perfection in Italy.

We must now return to the Arretine vases and turn our attention to their subjects and decoration, and their place in artistic development. Dragendorff divides them into two classes, including with them the vases of Puteoli, which bear Arretine stamps, and probably only represent a mere off-shoot of the latter potteries, merely differing in the quality of the design and in the absence of many of the best types. These were mostly discovered in 1874, and it is possible that the krater from Capua may also be reckoned as originating from this source.

His first class includes the vases of M. Perennius, which form such a large proportion of the signed Arretine wares. They are characterised by friezes of figures repeated, or of groups of figures all of the same size, sometimes divided by pillars or terminal figures. Ground-ornaments are rare, and the ground under the figures is not indicated as elsewhere. The subjects include Dionysiac scenes, such as dancing Maenads, sacrifices, drinking-scenes, the vintage, or Dionysos in a chariot; Cupids, Muses, and Seasons; Victory sacrificing a bull; Nereids with the weapons of Achilles; Hieroduli or priestesses dancing, with wicker head-dresses; banqueting, erotic, and hunting-scenes. Examples of the latter classes are given on Plate LXVI. The types of the figures, as in the case of the dancing Maenads, are largely derived from the New-Attic reliefs (see above).

In the second class, to which belong the vases of P. Cornelius and those found at Puteoli, a large use of ornament is the most conspicuous feature. The figures are little more than decorative, or form motives of a sculpturesque character, and are not, as in the first class, isocephalous. Naturalistic motives, such as wreaths, are very frequent. Among the types we have figures like those in the Nile-scenes on the terracotta mural reliefs and Centaurs derived from Hellenic prototypes.


Moulds and Stamp of Arretine Ware, with Casts from the Former
(British Museum ).

Throughout there is a remarkable variety, not only of subjects, but of ornaments and methods of composition, features in which the Greek vase-painters at all periods allowed themselves little freedom. The ornamentation, which usually borders the figures above and below, or still oftener occupies the whole surface available for decoration, includes such motives as conventional wreaths and festoons, scrolls of foliage, and egg-and-tongue pattern; a favourite device is the use of columns with spiral shafts, often surmounted by masks, between the figures. But it is often naturalistic as well as conventional, at least in detail, and only in the general effect is it purely ornamental rather than a reproduction of nature.

In the figures derived from the New-Attic reliefs and similar sources, such as metal reliefs on bases, candelabra, etc., the copyist usually shows a strong tendency to archaism; the attitudes of the figures are graceful, but somewhat affected. They seldom represent any particular action or story, but even human figures are merely decorative. Groups of dancing figures are especially favoured, such as Satyrs and Maenads, or the Hieroduli or dancing priestesses, who wear a curious headdress of wicker-work (calathus ); or we see Genii and Cupids crowning altars and lamp-stands, or playing on musical instruments. Throughout the parallelism with the Roman mural reliefs is most remarkable, whether in the archaising style, the decorative treatment of human figures, or in the choice of themes: the dancing Maenads and Satyrs, the Hieroduli, Victory sacrificing a bull, or the figures of Seasons. Of the last-named a fine instance is the beautiful krater from Capua, now in the British Museum (Fig. 219), the figures on which are most delicately modelled. A stamp in the same collection from Arezzo has a figure of Spring, which repeats the type of the Capua vase (Plate LXVI. fig. 2).

A somewhat later development, corresponding to the second class described above, seems to draw its inspiration rather from the Hellenistic reliefs of naturalistic style, such as Schreiber has published, dating from the third century B.C. The figures are no longer stiff, but free and vigorous, and elaborate compositions are attempted, some being perhaps excerpts from large Hellenistic compositions. Realistic landscapes in the Hellenistic style, with rocks and trees, are largely favoured, and the repertory of subjects includes Dionysiac sacrifices and processions, combats of Centaurs and Lapiths, and hunting-scenes. A fragmentary mould in the British Museum is a good example of the latter, only that here the scene is definitely characterised as Alexander the Great at a lion-hunt (Plate LXVI. figs. 1, 3). The king is just slaying a lion, which stands over a man whom it has felled, and Krateros advances to his assistance with an axe. A wreath which adorns the beast's neck seems to indicate that it was an animal specially kept in the royal park for hunting. The mould bears the name of M. Perennius.

Dragendorff, in a valuable and illuminating estimate of the Arretine wares, points out that they are an example of the tendency, so constantly occurring in classic art, to imitate one substance in another. He is further of opinion that they largely reproduce contemporary originals which illustrate the eclectic art of the Augustan period, instituting a reaction against Hellenistic art and forming in their simple shapes a contrast to the baroque  forms of later Hellenistic pottery. The art of the Augustan Age was followed, as Wickhoff has pointed out, by a period of impressionism or illusionist style derived from painting, which is, however, completely absent from Arretine and all other pottery of the Roman period. It may, therefore, be fairly assumed that when the impressionist style came into vogue, the art of the Arretine potter had had its day. All subsequent wares with reliefs are essentially provincial, and the origin of their style is uncertain, but it is at all events not derived from any of the contemporary phases of Roman art.

The vases of the types which we have been describing are not, as has been hinted already, found exclusively at Arezzo. In Italy they are found in all parts, and the stamps of known Arretine potters occur in large numbers in Rome, as also at Cervetri, Chiusi, Vulci, and elsewhere in Etruria, and at Mutina (Modena). They are also found all over Campania, at Capua, Cumae, Pompeii, and Pozzuoli. North of the Alps they occur but rarely, and almost exclusively in Gallia Narbonensis, but we have seen that they are found in Spain, and instances are also recorded from Sardinia, Africa, Greece,Asia Minor, and Cyprus. From these details two conclusions may be drawn, either that there were various centres scattered over the Empire for the manufacture of what was currently known as “Arretine ware,” or that an extensive system of exportation went on from one centre, which would naturally be Arretium. Certainly there is no difference either technically or artistically between the Arezzo vases and some of those found in other places, such as Modena or Capua. Either view has something in its favour, and it is doubtful whether the question is yet ripe for solution.

The Arretine ware, as we have seen, steadily degenerated during the first century of the Empire, and at the close of that period had practically come to an end. The question then arises, What took its place in Italy? For it will be seen in the following pages that in discussing the remaining examples of terra sigillata  which Roman potters have left us, we have to deal almost entirely with provincial wares, made in Gaul and Germany, and exported largely even into Central and Southern Italy. Not the least striking feature in the history of Roman pottery is the rapid rise of these provincial fabrics, and the reputation which they so speedily acquired even in the more central and more civilised parts of the empire. Yet the manufacture of pottery in Italy cannot have died out entirely by the end of the first century. The plain and unglazed wares for domestic or other ordinary uses, such as the dolia  and wine amphorae, of course continued to be made in Italy as elsewhere, and the list of centres given by Pliny, which we have already discussed, clearly shows that in the Flavian epoch several places still preserved a reputation for the manufacture of pottery. On the other hand, we have no evidence that the pottery made in these centres had any other than utilitarian merit, or that it represents what we know as terra sigillata , and it is certainly remarkable that all the ornamental wares found in Italy are either of the Arretine type or else importations from Gaul, with very few exceptions. Lamps and tiles, as we have seen in previous chapters, continued to be made throughout the second and third centuries, but both were essentially utilitarian in their purposes, and the latter, at any rate, lay no claim to artistic distinction. The growing use of metal vases by all but the poorer classes, was also not without its effect on the disappearance of moulded wares in Italy, and a reference thereto may perhaps be traced in Martial's plea for the Arretine pottery.

It therefore seems safest to assume that as in the fourth century B.C. the manufacture of painted vases ceased at Athens, but entered on a new era of development in Southern Italy with the migration of Athenian artists to the Hellenic centres of that region, so in the first century after Christ the manufacture of terra sigillata  in Italy—as distinguished from plain pottery and other objects such as lamps—gradually died out, owing to the migration of artists and transference of artistic traditions to the rising centres of a new civilisation in the country bordering on the Rhone and the Rhine. It will be our object in the succeeding pages to collect the evidence for the existence and importance of the potteries in these regions, and to show, in short, that they for some time supplied to the whole Roman world all that its representatives were then capable of in the way of artistic and decorative work in pottery. In the following chapter will also be more conveniently discussed the vases of Ateius, Aco, and other potters which represent the transition from the Arretine to the Gaulish fabrics.

Provincial Fabrics

1. General Characteristics

The pottery with which we have now to deal is that which was known to an older generation as “Samian ware,” but may now be more appropriately termed Provincial terra sigillata . In regard to its general characteristics, it is distinguished by a fine close-grained red clay, harder than the Arretine, and presenting when broken an edge of light red. The surface is smooth and lustrous, of a brighter yet darker red colour (i.e. less like coral) than that of Arretine ware, but the tone of the red varies with the degree of heat used. The most important feature is the fine red glaze with which it is coated, similar in composition to—though not identical with—that of the Arretine; it is exceedingly thin and transparent, and laid equally over the whole surface, only slightly augmenting the colour of the clay, which resembles that of coral or sealing-wax. The glaze varies in lustre and quality as well as in colour, but as the analyses show, it is produced on the same principle at all periods and in all fabrics, Italian and provincial. The ornamentation is invariably of a coarser nature than that of Arretine ware, and though it draws its inspiration therefrom, is divided from it by a considerable interval of artistic degeneration; nor is the missing link always easy to trace. This ware is found all over Central Europe, from the Balkan to the Spanish Peninsula, in the forests of Germany, and on the distant shores of Britain, but in greatest abundance and effectiveness in the valleys of the Loire and Rhine, a fact which in itself directs us to look to these districts for the centres of its manufacture. Wherever found, it is in its main characteristics identical, and readily to be distinguished from the local wares with their simple, or entire absence of, ornamentation. The vases are usually of small dimensions, consisting of various types of bowls, cups, and dishes, of which two or three forms are preferred almost to the exclusion of the rest, and they usually bear the stamp of the potter impressed on the inside or outside. The angular and sharp profiles of the various shapes indicate that in nearly all cases they are derived from metal prototypes.

Although this ware is found all over the Roman world, yet by far the greater proportion of the material at hand comes from the Roman sites of Gaul, Germany, and Britain, and evidence points to two—and only two—districts as the principal centres of its manufacture: the valleys of the Loire and the Rhine and their immediate neighbourhood. Even in Italy the material is exceedingly scanty, and much of the pottery found in Rome or Campania can be proved by the potters' stamps to have been imported from Gaul. In Greece the finds of terra sigillata , though covering a wide area, are few and far between, and we are hardly in a position to state whether these are local fabrics or importations. Dragendorff notes that in the museum at Bonn there are fragments from Athens, Eleusis, Rhamnus, Oropos, Epidauros, Eretria, Argos, Delos, and Troy, and others in private possession at the same place from Alexandria. In the museum at Dimitzana in Arcadia there is a vase with Latin stamps, and another without stamp is preserved at Chanak Kalessi on the Dardanelles. Furtwaengler records a few fragmentsfrom Olympia, one with OCT · SALVE , and fragments have also been found at Pergamon. There are a few cups from Cyprus in the Museum at St. Germain-en-Laye, and others at Nicosia. But it must not be forgotten that, as has already been noted, there is evidence of manufacture of red relief wares in Greek lands under the Empire, and much of the above-mentioned material may not be able to lay any claim to a Western origin.

For the potteries of Central and Western Europe there is indeed no literary evidence, for, as we have seen, Saguntum is the only provincial place of any reputation in antiquity, although modern excavations have not upheld its claim. All the evidence is necessarily derived from excavations, and from finds of moulds and potteries; but by the careful and scientific researches of Von Hefner, Dragendorff, Déchelette, and other investigators on Gaulish and German sites results have been obtained of incalculable value for establishing the provincial centres which during the first century of the Empire inherited the traditions of Arretium. In the succeeding enquiry, therefore, we shall devote our attention almost entirely to the terra sigillata , of which Gaul, Germany, and Britain have yielded such abundant quantities, and after a general consideration of its history and characteristics, shall discuss in detail the peculiarities of separate fabrics.

In his invaluable treatise on terra sigillata —the first comprehensive attempt at a general scientific discussion of the subject which has been contributed—Dragendorff collected a series of over fifty varieties of forms (almost exclusively cups, bowls, and dishes), which embrace all the examples of Arretine and provincial wares with relief-ornamentation. Of these he considers the first fourteen peculiar to the Arretine ware, but there are other vases found both in Italy and the provinces which in form and colour are not distinguishable from the Arretine, and seem to be undoubted examples of early importations. Such vases are found at Andernach, Neuss, and Xanten on the Lower Rhine, bearing the stamps of Ateius, Bassus, Primus, and Xanthus, who are also frequently found in Southern Italy.With regard to the first-named, however, there is evidence to show that he may have worked in Southern Gaul, and the Italian origin of this pottery is not absolutely certain. At all events, the finds in Germany to which a date in the first century can be given seem to show the adoption of a new form of dish differing from that characteristic of Arezzo; this new form is also common at Pompeii (probably as an importation), and is found on the Limes at Saalburg with the stamp BOLLVS FIC. It is usually quite plain, and seems to have lasted down to the end of the third century. Another variety (No. 18) was found at Andernach with a coin of Antonia Augusta, and at Este in Italy with a stamp SERRAE , which belongs to the time of Augustus. From it a later form (No. 31) was developed.



As a general rule these early provincial forms were unornamented, but the two types of bowl or cup which Dragendorff numbers 29 and 30, and which are reproduced in Figs. 221, 222, become the normal form for the provincial relief-wares of the first century. These are not found in the Arretine ware, but occur all through that century, not only in Gaul, but also, for instance, in the castra  on the frontier of Germany.The only Arretine form which seems to have prevailed to any extent in the provinces is the krater (Dragendorff's No. 11 = Fig. 219). Other kinds of deep cups with expanding sides (Dragendorff's Nos. 22-27) are found occasionally in Italy and on various sites in Germany, and can be traced from their first appearance in the first century for about a hundred years. Nos. 24 and 25 are found at Xanten (Castra Vetera) with coins of Julius Caesar and Nero, others in the cemetery of Bibracte near Autun, which is known not to be later than the time of Augustus. The general conclusion seems to be that these wares represent a sort of transitional stage between those of Arretium and the indubitably provincial terra sigillata . Towards the end of the first century they are supplanted, notably at Lezoux and in Germany, by the hemispherical bowl (Dragendorff's No. 37 = Fig.223), which subsequently becomes the only form employed for the moulded wares.

FIG. 223. GAULISH BOWL (FORM NO. 37); A.D. 70-260.

In pursuing his investigation of the provincial fabrics of the first century, Dragendorff begins by discussing various groups of vases found in Germany which seem to represent a period of transition between the Italian Roman (and the local native) pottery and the provincial terra sigillata  proper, which is not usually found before the middle of the century. First we have a kind of light-red ware, formerly known as “false Samian,” which lacks the strong lustrous sheen of the genuine terra sigillata ; the tone Hettner considered to be the result of mere polishing, without any glaze or slip. The forms are heavier and coarser, and are not confined, as in the genuine fabric, to deep cups or shallow bowls, but include a sort of beaker or tumbler-shaped cup, and a slim jar with characteristic incised ornament. They are found in the oldest Roman tombs at Andernach, about A.D. 60. Contemporary with this (from Augustus to Vespasian) was a kind of black ware with incised linear ornament, resembling that described under a subsequent heading; it bears the same potters' stamps as the light-red ware, and is interesting for its close relation to the older La Tène pottery, showing its origin to be Celtic or Gaulish, not Roman. The centre of fabric for these wares, which are limited in their distribution to the Rhenish provinces, Normandy and Southern Gaul, seems to have been Trier, which place is as nearly as possible the centre of all the sites on which they have been found; it is further evident that both the red and the black were made in the same pottery. Dragendorff styles these fabrics “Belgic,” on the ground that they are mostly found in the province of Gallia Belgica. It is conceivable that, as that province became organised in the first century, potters from Southern Gaul settled at Trier. A pottery of that epoch has been found there, with remains of black, grey, and light-red ware, and a piece found at Andernach with the stamp DVRO
 shows evidence of having been made at the former place. The potters' stamps include both Roman and non-Roman names. These wares are very rarely found in Britain.

We now come to the terra sigillata  fabrics proper, which extend from about A.D. 30 or even earlier to 250, and exhibit a great difference from the earlier fabrics. There is no longer any question of Italian manufacture or of unsuccessful provincial imitations of Italian ware, but of a provincial fabric of excellent technique and real artistic individuality. The material for our purpose is supplied by the Gaulish cemeteries and pottery-sites of the Rhone and Allier valleys, the Cevennes, Normandy, and Belgium, by those of the Rhine valley and Southern Germany, and those of Britain. In Northern Gaul this pottery is found with coins ranging from Caligula to Commodus, and in the forts on the German Limes, such as those on the Taunus range and along the Main, the coins extend from Vespasian to Gallienus (A.D. 260), in whose time occupation ceased on the right bank of the Rhine.

In considering the probable centres of fabric we find a remarkable correspondence in the potters' stamps in the most widely-separated localities, indicating a limited number of centres which had a great reputation. Thus, for instance, in comparing lists of stamps found in London with those from Douai in France Roach-Smith noted that no less than three-fourths of the names occurred in both places. The same investigator, now many years ago, was acute enough to deduce the conclusion from this and other similar evidence that in Britain there was no local manufacture of terra sigillata ; and he has been justified by more recent researches, based on a much more extensive command of material. The two chief authorities on this subject at the present day, Dr. Dragendorff and M. Déchelette, are agreed in their main conclusions that the centre of this fabric must be sought in Gaul, and since the appearance of the latter's treatise on the Gaulish potteries, there seems little doubt that it was in the first century at Graufesenque near Rodez in the Cevennes (Condatomagus), in the succeeding period at Lezoux in Auvergne, where extensive remains of potteries have come to light. Dr. Dragendorff based his arguments on the following facts:

(1) The potters' names are largely Gaulish.

(2) Names are found in other parts which are known to be from a Gaulish centre such as Lezoux.

(3) Gallic epigraphical peculiarities, such as dotted circle for O, cursive D for D, and OV for U, are found in the inscriptions.

(4) Even names of an undoubted Latin type, such as Julios and Priscos, end in the Gallic termination -os.

(5) Cursive forms such as 15 14Attic alpha reversed for A, 15 12cursive E for E, 15 12cursive F for F, and cursive L for L, are frequently found, as also in Gaulish inscriptions of the second century.

That he was working on the right lines has been now shown by M. Déchelette, who has employed as the basis of his researches the more conclusive evidence of discoveries, especially of finds of moulds and remains of potteries. But of this more will be said subsequently.

On the other hand there were two large potteries in Germany, at Rheinzabern, near Speier, and at Westerndorf, in Southern Bavaria, where ornamented vases were undoubtedly made. They were apparently not largely exported, but many of the stamps also occur on the plain wares from these potteries, implying that the ornamental vases must also have been made by the local men. The pottery of Westerndorf begins about the middle of the second century. Dragendorff notes that of all the Gaulish potters' stamps only forty-one have been found in Italy, and many of these only in Cisalpine Gaul, while others are very rare.

In regard to the forms, the chief fact to be noted is that new shapes and methods of decoration now appear with the growth of the provincial potteries, unknown in Italy, and the earlier bowls and dishes are not found (for instance) at Rheinzabern. One form of dish (No. 32) is new, but another (No. 31) is clearly developed from the Italian type (No. 18). An essentially Gaulish form of deep bowl or cup is No. 33; another with handles (No. 34) is only found at Banassac. The mortaria  with spout and pebbles inserted for grinding now first make their appearance, especially in the Limes forts and in Britain. Many of the forms clearly indicate an imitation of metal. Déchelette notes that of the forms given by Dragendorff (Nos. 15-55) about twenty in all are found in Gaul, including the three used for moulded wares. To these he adds sixteen new forms, which he numbers 56 to 71, and for the vases with barbotine  or appliqué decoration six more (72-77) must be included in the list.

The next feature to be considered in these vases is the decoration, which is not confined, as in the Italian wares, to reliefs obtained from moulds, but is also produced by ornaments applied to the surface of the vase, either in the form of separate figures or medallions modelled by hand or made from moulds and then attached, or by the method known as en barbotine . Sometimes the decoration takes the form of impressed or incised patterns, but these are more characteristic of the commoner wares. For the present we may limit the discussion to vases in which the decoration is produced at the same time in the mould.

Vases of this type exhibit a remarkable monotony of form, being, as already noted, practically confined to two varieties of the bowl or deep cup, one with curved, the other with straight, sides (Forms 29 and 30 = Figs. 221, 222), at least up to the middle of the first century. In the latter half of that century these are supplemented by a third variety (Form 37 = Fig. 223), and at the same time a gradual diminution in the sharpness of the outlines, as in the reliefs themselves, becomes apparent. No direct connection with the Arretine ware can be traced, either in the forms or in the decoration. The potters' stamps are found at first in the interior, as on the plain wares, but subsequently on the exterior, in the middle of the design.

At first there is a general absence of figure subjects, and the designs are purely ornamental, or else animals, such as birds or hares, are introduced as mere decorative elements. An important distinction from the Italian wares should be noted, viz. that in the latter the wreaths or scrolls which play such an important part in the decoration are composed of single detached leaves or flowers, whereas in the provincial wares the whole wreath is modelled in one continuous system, either formed of undulating motives, as at Graufesenque, or of a straight wreath or band of ornaments, as at Lezoux. On the other hand the figure compositions are never continuous until the ”free” style comes in at Lezoux with the second century, but are broken up by ornaments into metope-like groups. The typical arrangement is that of a wreath between rows of beads or raised dots, with a triple band of hatched lines or “machine-turned” ornament above, and rays or pear-shaped ornaments below, pointing downwards. Sometimes the wreath is duplicated; or the frieze is broken up into metope-like groups of animals bordered by ornament, as in the first-century bowls found in France and Italy, which Déchelette attributes to the potteries of Condatomagus (Graufesenque in the Cevennes). With the introduction of the hemispherical bowls (form 37) comes a new system, in which the upper edge is left plain, followed by a band of egg-and-tongue ornament; then comes the main frieze, and below this a simple wreath. This form and method first appear at Lezoux about A.D. 70, and at Rheinzabern with the beginning of the next century. The final stage is reached when the decoration consists of figures either arranged in medallions and arcades, or freely in friezes, a system which obtains exclusively at Westerndorf, and on the bulk of the terra sigillata  found in Britain. Along with these changes in arrangement goes a steady artistic degeneration.

As regards the subjects, it may be generally observed that the conceptions are good, but the execution is poor. In many cases they are obviously imitations of well-known works, and it is curious that no Gaulish subjects occur. The types include representations of gods and heroes, warriors and gladiators, hunters and animals. In general they are of Hellenistic origin, and include all such subjects as are characteristic of the art of the period. At first, however, purely decorative motives hold the field, in imitation of the Arretine ware, and it is not until after the disappearance of the latter that figure decoration is found. We have imitations of sculpture, as in the types of Venus bathing or the Diana à la biche , and of the Hellenistic reliefs with genre and idyllic subjects, as in the scenes with fowlers or fishermen. The “new-Attic” reliefs furnish models for types, as in other branches of Roman art, and Eros, Herakles, and Dionysiac subjects are universally popular.

Among the mythological types Dragendorff has collected the following: Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hephaistos, Hermes, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Athena; Dionysos, Herakles, Victory, Fortune, and Cupids; Amazons, Giants, sea-monsters, Gryphons and Sphinxes, Pygmies and cranes; Bellerophon, Aktaeon, the rape of the Leukippidae, and Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf. The gladiatorial subjects closely follow the types of Roman art, and the favourite theme, a combat of two in which one is worsted, resembles a common type on the lamps. Thus, though the style of art is essentially provincial, the subjects draw their inspiration exclusively from classical sources.

A series of examples from Britain may be noted as covering in their subjects the ground indicated; they are mostly from Roach-Smith's extensive collection, now in the British Museum. They include a vase with figures in separate compartments: Diana, Minerva, Hercules, Bacchus, a man with a cup, and Satyrs and Nymphs; another with Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides killing the serpent, Diana, warriors, and panels of ornament; a third with Bacchus and a tiger, Luna, and Genii with torches. Others have Apollo with Diana or pursuing Daphne; Diana and Actaeon; copies of statues of Venus (of the Cnidian or Medici type); the labours of Hercules, Bacchanalian orgies and processions, and such deities as Victory, Fortune, Cupids, and Anubis, as well as Satyrs and Fauns, Gryphons, Sphinxes, and Tritons. On the vase of Divixtus illustrated in Plate LXVIII. fig. 2, the subjects are Venus at her toilet, Diana with a stag, and a Silenus carrying a basket of fruit. The subjects from daily life include hunting scenes of various kinds; dogs pursuing stags, boars, or hares; combats of bestiarii  with various animals; musicians, and gladiators. Ornamentation of a purely decorative character includes animals and trees, and representations of fruit, flowers, and foliage, either in scrolls or interspersed with other objects. Roach-Smith also gives a curious example from Hartlip in Kent with two separate friezes of figures and the potter's stamp SABINI·M ; on the upper band are Leda and the swan and a seated goddess with cornucopia; on the lower, Diana with a deer, under a canopy, and Victory crowning a warrior, the various groups being several times repeated. The style is very rude, and though the subjects are classical, the figures and designs are very barbaric, almost mediaeval in appearance.

The terra sigillata  fabrics appear to have lasted on down to the end of the fourth century in the provinces, but are by that time not only rare, but exceedingly degenerate. Some found at Andernach can be attributed to the reign of Magnus Maximus (A.D. 388), and in others, apart from the style, the costume of the figures resembles that of the fourth century; the potters' stamps by this time have entirely ceased.

The names of potters which, as we have seen, so frequently occur on the provincial wares are nearly all Gaulish in form or origin, and this, it has been noted, is one of the strongest arguments for the Gaulish origin of the pottery. The stamps are usually quadrangular in form, but sometimes circular or oval, or in the form of a human foot; they are depressed in the surface of the vase, but the letters are in relief. There is considerable variation in the form of the letters, which are often cursive, often ligatured, and frequently single letters or whole words are impressed backwards. The names are either in the nominative, with or without F FEC FECIT , or in the genitive with OF OFFIC , etc., M , or MANV ; the Gaulish word AVOT  for FECIT  is also found. It is rare to find a potter with more than one name, and probably few of the Gaulish potters were Roman citizens; on the other hand, there are few undoubted examples of slaves' names. Some groups of names seem to indicate partnerships, such as VRSVS FELIX ,PRIMI PATER (ni ), SECVND (i RVFIN (i ); in other cases the name of the father is also given, as TORNOS VOCARI F (ilius ), VACASATVS BRARIATI F , but it is not impossible that the formula may mean, “Tornos the slave of Vocarius,” or, “Vacasatus the slave of Brariatus made (fecit ).” In Aquitania stamps occur with FAM (uli ) or NEPOTIS  added after the name. Some groups of names are peculiar to certain localities, Amabilis, Belsus, Domitianus, Placidus, etc., being found only in Germany; other potters give a hint of their origin, adding to their names ARVE or AR for Arvernus, the district of the Arverni, correspondingto the modern Auvergne. Vases are found at Lezoux with the stamp RVTENVS FECIT ; here the name may be a deliberate intention of the Rutenian potter, to show that the vase was not made locally. The name Disetus, which is found on the Rhine, occurs in Gallia Belgica in the form Diseto, the variety being due either to differences in date or in the place of fabric. Among peculiarities in the stamps may be mentioned an instance, given among those from Britain, where the potter from ignorance or caprice has impressed the stamp of an oculist, intended for a quack ointment, on the bottom of a cup (found in London, and now in the British Museum). It reads: Q · IVL · SENIS · CR | OCOD · AD · ASPR  (crocodes , an ointment made from saffron). In 1902 some interesting graffiti  were found on pottery at Graufesenque, being apparently notes made by the potters, such as VINAR (ia ), ACET (abula ),TAR (ichos ), and so on, as well as the names of the potters and the quantity of the contents in each case. But it is not possible to ascertain the forms corresponding to the names given in graffito .

Some peculiarities of the potters' stamps may be noted among those from Westerndorf and Rheinzabern, in which certain combinations occur on the same vase. Thus at Westerndorf we find:


at Rheinzabern:


The names Comitialis and Cerialis are found on stamps interspersed among the designs, and therefore made with the vase in the mould, but those with CSS occur on the rim, and were therefore added subsequently. It will be noted from the above examples that the names like Comitialis—Primitivos is another instance—are common to more than one fabric, but those in the second series are peculiar to one; the latter, therefore, refer to the actual potter (figulus ), the former to the designer of the decoration (sigillarius ), whose moulds were employed in more than one place. It is an interesting parallel to the ἔγραψεν and ἐποἰησεν of the Greek vases. This conclusion receives additional confirmation from the discovery of certain types of decoration both at Rheinzabern and Westerndorf, showing that there was a system of exchange between the two potteries. The name CSS is only found at Westerndorf, and it has been supposed that it denotes C. Septimius Secundianus, a name which occurs in the neighbourhood. The name of Comitialis is found on a vase from London in the British Museum, presumably imported from Germany.

Representations of potters are not unknown in Gaulish art; and there are also allusions to them in inscriptions. Some are depicted wearing the tunic only, and thereby proclaiming their servile condition; others wear the cloak also, as for instance one Casatus Caratius, fictiliarius , who is represented on a stele  at Metz holding a fluted vase like those made in black ware. On another, L. Aurelius Sabinus is represented, with an amphora olla , and lagena  in the background, and an inscription which runs, L. Aurelius Sabinus doliarius fecit sibi et suis . Several inscriptions found in Germany speak of negotiatores artis cretariae , and may be assumed to refer to what we should call “commercial travellers“ or “agents” for the sale of the finer wares. In an inscription found at Wiesbaden Secundus Agricola is mentioned in this capacity, and in another from Dornburg, Secundinus Silvanus, a native of Britain. M. Messius Fortunatus, whose name actually occurs on pottery, is described in inscriptions as being also pavimentarius  (road-maker) and paenalarius  (cloak-maker).

Apart from the potters' stamps, some interesting inscriptions have been found on the vases from Rottenburg in Germany. There are examples with the names of the consuls for A.D. 237, Didius Caelius Balbinus and M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus (the first year of their reign). Others have the names of the legions stationed in the colonia  of Sumlocene or Solicinium, which this site represents, with the dates A.D. 169 (LOCEN ·A · V · C · MLVI ), 248 (C · STI · A · V· C · CDI ), and 303, and the names of the twenty-first and twenty-second legions. Incised inscriptions on Roman pottery are common throughout the provinces, as the pages of the Corpus  indicate, but are more usually found on the plain wares than on the terra sigillata . Among the more interesting examples is a vase in the Louvre, of the first century after Christ, on the neck of which is incised GENIO TVRNACENSIVM , “To the Genius of Turnacum” (Tournay); another found at Ickleton in Cambridgeshire had (ex ho )C AMICI BIBVNT , “Friends are they who drink from this”; a third from Leicester, VERECVNDA LVDIA LVCIVS GLADIATOR , supposed to refer to a love-token or present from a gladiator to his mistress. A vase of black ware from Taplow, Bucks, in the British Museum has a Greek inscription.

We next come to the discussion of the vases decorated in the method known as en barbotine . This is exceedingly rare in Italy, and it is probable that the vases there found are importations; the process seems to have been invented in Gaul or Germany, and the only parallel thereto in earlier ceramic art is in the method employed for the gilded vases of the fifth and fourth centuries. At its first appearance it occurs on vases of common grey or black unglazed ware, found at Andernach with coins of Claudius and Nero, but by the end of the first century it is also employed on glazed wares, red or black, and even on the enamelled glazed vases of Gallic or German origin. The ornamentation is at first exceedingly simple, consisting of plain leaves, chains of rings, or raised knobs, as on the examples found in Italy; but it developed rapidly, and the patterns become very varied. Its chief merit is that it is essentially a free, not a mechanical method, and some of the specimens from the Rhine and Britain have really effective compositions of animals and interwoven scrolls. Even human figures find a place; but towards the end of its popularity the ornamentation encroaches upon and finally ousts the figure subjects, and degeneration is manifested in artificiality and crowding of detail. In the earlier examples there is a marked preference for a slip presenting a contrast of colour to the clay, and we find white used on red and black ware, brown on buff ware (early German vases in the form of human heads), and so on.

In Gaul, barbotine is limited to subsidiary decorative patterns, and is never used for figures as in Germany and Britain; it is very common in the North of France. At Lezoux it was employed in the earlier period of that pottery (A.D. 50-100) for simple leaf-patterns, in the later (A.D.100-260) to complete the decoration of vases with appliqué reliefs.

The black glazed wares decorated en barbotine  are characteristic of the second century, and extend down to the fourth. The clay is actually red, with thin walls, but is covered with a black or dark-brown varnish, often with a metallic lustre, which when too much baked turns to red, and thus presents the appearance of terra sigillata . The barbotine is either of the same colour as the clay, the varnish being subsequently added over it , or composed of white or yellow slip and applied after the varnish. The decoration usually takes the form of leaves or scrolls, or of simple raised knobs; but figures of dogs, hares, and deer are found, and occasionally men.

On the red or terra sigillata  wares the barbotine process is not found earlier than the middle of the first century; there is none, for instance, at Andernach. It is practically unknown in Italy, and a few fragments from that country in the Louvre and Dresden Museums are probably importations. Moreover, it is confined to forms which only appear with the development of the provincial potteries. The earliest specimens are found with coins of the Flavian epoch at Trier and Xanten; it occurs also in Germany and Britain, and there are examples at Speier from Rheinzabern, but it does not seem to have been made at Westerndorf. The ornamentation is very limited in its scope, and from a strictly artistic point of view it was not really suited for any but simple patterns of leaves (especially those of the ivy or of lanceolate form) or for running animals. Figures of hunters, gladiators, or bestiarii  are occasionally found. From the very nature of the process no fine details were possible, and all must be executed in long, thin, and soft lines. Sometimes, however, scrolls in barbotine were combined with figures of men and animals made from moulds, as on the Lezoux ware described below. Potters' stamps are rare, but Dragendorff gives examples from Cologne, Bonn, and Speier. It has been pointed out by the same authority that the influence of glass technique is strongly marked, not only in the method, which suggests the imitation of threads and lumps of spun glass, but also in the forms, which frequently occur in the provincial glass ware of the period, then rising into prominence. Examples of British barbotine ware are given on Plate LXIX.

The other method of decoration to which we have alluded, that of indented ornamentation, is undoubtedly an imitation of glass technique, and the forms (flasks and small cups or bowls without feet or handles, of ovoid or spherical form) are equally characteristic of that material. The decoration consists of linear patterns and sharply-cut ornaments in the shape of an olive or barley-corn, often combined with naturalistic foliage. This ware may be dated by coins between A.D. 100 and 250; there are no examples with potters' stamps, but it seems to have been made at Lezoux, Trier, and Westerndorf, and exported to Britain and elsewhere.

What may be described as a variety of this technique, but occurring in the red glazed wares, is a method of decoration in rows of linear incised patterns, usually in small rectangular panels of hatched lines. These belong to the time of the decadence of the ceramic industry, i.e. to the fourth century, and are found chiefly in North and East France and Germany, not in Central or Southern Gaul. There are examples from the Department of Marne in the British Museum (Morel Collection). The patterns are made with wooden stamps, not with the usual running wheel. Déchelette thinks the method originated in Germany with the vases of the La Tène period.

In order to elucidate further the development and characteristics of the provincial Roman pottery, it may be found serviceable to turn our attention to the various sites which are known to have been centres of manufacture, or which have yielded pottery in large quantities, and at the same time to indicate the main points of difference between the fabrics of Gaul, Germany, and Britain.

2. The Fabrics of Gaul

The pottery of Gaul presenting the closest relationship, both artistically and chronologically, with that of Italy, it will be most convenient to accord it precedence. Hitherto a general survey of the Gaulish fabrics has hardly been possible, as the materials had not been collected and studied as a whole; and such a task was obviously beyond the capacity of any one who had not the advantage of a personal acquaintance with the mass of material now available in all parts of France. But since the indispensable and exhaustive work of M. Déchelette has appeared, it has rendered superfluous all the previous literature on this particular subject. This scholar has earned the gratitude of students by his careful study of the pottery excavated on certain sites in Southern France, by means of which much light has been thrown on the Gaulish fabrics of the first century, at the time when the sigillata  industry was just taking root in Gaul, and had hardly freed itself from Italian influences. In one section of his work he deals with the finds made in 1895-1900 at Saint-Rémy on the Allier, about four miles from Vichy, in another with those of 1901-02 at Graufesenque, near Rodez, in the Cevennes region, and thirdly with the important fabrics of Lezoux. With these and others of more or less importance we shall deal successively in the following pages.

At Saint-Rémy  no traces of actual furnaces were found, but fragments of moulds, etc., showed clearly that it was an important centre, not only for pottery, but also for terracotta figures. As a rule little chronological evidence is to be obtained from finds in France owing to the confused and unstratified condition of the remains, or from absence of scientific records; but in the present case we are fortunate in possessing a series of homogeneous types belonging to the earliest period of sigillata  ware in Gaul; an entire uniformity of clay, technique, form, and decoration shows that they must all belong to one circumscribed epoch, in spite of the absence of coins or other definite evidence. At the same time it has been possible not only to connect them with finds at Mont Beuvray (Bibracte), near Autun, which can be dated not later than 5 B.C., at Ornavasso, on Lago Maggiore (coins of Augustan epoch), and at Andernach (also Augustan), but also to obtain a clue to their originals and prototypes.

From Déchelette.

The forms of the vases fall under five clearly-defined heads: a poculum , or tumbler-shaped vessel, a scyphus  with flat-topped handles, a straight-sided open bowl, flasks with or without handles, and of conical form or pear-shaped (see Fig. 224). All the vases are of white clay, with reliefs, but there are no potters' stamps, and the execution is often imperfect; the secret of the red ware seems as yet unknown, but there is evidence that it was gradually substituted for the white, and the typical bowl with sloping sides and continuous scrolls of foliage (Dragendorff's No. 29 = Fig. 221) introduced here as elsewhere. In the Saint-Rémy fabrics this bowl only has a single row of ornament, a tongue-pattern, scrolls, or arcading round the lower part. The general conclusion reached by M. Déchelette is that down to the end of the first century B.C. two kinds of pottery were introduced into Gaul: the Arretine ware, which occurs at Bibracte with the stamps of Annius, Memmius, and Tettius, and a class of small goblets and flasks of yellowish clay which in many respects resemble the Saint-Rémy type. The latter sometimes bear the name of ACO ACASTVS , a potter who appears to have worked in the region of Savoy or Piedmont, and who was inspired by the Arretine technique and style of signature. His ware also occurs in Lombardy at Ornavasso, and at Klagenfurt in Pannonia, where a fragment was found (Fig. 225) with his name and an inscription which runs: “Life is short, hope is frail; come, (the lights) are kindled; let us drink, comrades, while it is light.” He certainly belongs to the Augustan epoch, and may be regarded as the immediate inspirer of the Saint-Rémy fabrics. Hence about the beginning of the first century of our era it may be inferred that the potters of Saint-Rémy and district began to “exploit” the Italian technique, but following the Gallo-Italic method of Aco rather than the Arretine. The typical decorative motive by which this pottery may be recognised is a kind of arcading, which from having floriated points gradually tends to assume a purely vegetable form. Some of the vases are only ornamented with rows of raised points, and this feature occurs on others with the potters' names L. Sarius Surus and Buccio Norbanus. Figure decoration is found only on the pear-shaped flasks, in the form of animals (Fig. 224) and bearded heads. To the same period belongs a series of vases manufactured at Vichy and Gannat in the same district.

From Déchelette.

The results obtained from Graufesenque , in the Department of Aveyron, have been even more remarkable. This place represents the ancient Condatomagus, in the country occupied by the Ruteni, and appears to have been a great centre of the terra sigillata  industry. Although it is not mentioned by Pliny, yet there must have been in his time large exports southwards from this part of Gaul, even as far as Campania. M. Déchelette has shown that it supplied not only Gaul and Italy, but even Africa, Spain, and Britain, to a greater extent than any other centre—that, in fact, from A.D. 50 to 100 it was the seat of the most important pottery in the whole empire.

Remains of pottery were first discovered in 1882 by the Abbé Cérès, including a series of moulds, which made it certain that this was a centre of fabric. These discoveries were largely supplemented by further excavations in 1901–02. Among the moulds are those of certain potters which are only found here, and consequently afford satisfactory evidence that such potters can be localised in this region. The potters were not itinerant, nor were the moulds transferred from one pottery to another; but the important central pottery seems to have attracted a group of smaller ones to collect round it, just as we find Cincelli linked to Arezzo, and the moulds could be exchanged from one to another within this limited area.

The local pottery of Gaul, which in the first century B.C. had reached a high level, was interrupted about the time of Augustus by the invasion of Italian methods, by which it was very rapidly Romanised, and Gaul became a mere tributary of Roman industry. At first two kinds of technique were practised—one with a white or yellow clay, as at Saint-Rémy and Bibracte; the other in the ordinary red ware, which appears to have been employed exclusively at Condatomagus and Lezoux, at first following on the lines of the Arretine ware, but subsequently attempting new developments. Artistically it is inferior to the Arretine, but it is much more varied. Besides the terra sigillata  proper, or moulded ware with reliefs, which is by far the most numerous, we find in Gaul several other varieties of technique: appliquémedallions, separately moulded and attached with barbotine, in imitation of the Greek metal ἐμβλήματα; barbotine decoration; a class of so-called “marbled” vases; and incised decoration of simple linear patterns made with a tool in the moist clay, but with bold and skilful execution. But practically the wares found at Graufesenque are limited to the moulded class, and the others, which will be described subsequently, only became general in the second century, when the Lezoux potteries came to the front and those of Graufesenque were exhausted.

In the terra sigillata  wares three forms assume marked prominence, those illustrated in Figs. 221–223; they are found in fairly equal proportions, but the earliest form, which we may call for convenience No. 29, has a slight preponderance. We shall see later that similarly the latest form (No. 37) prevails at Lezoux; this form was introduced about A.D. 70. The intermediate No. 30 is found at both, but more frequently at Graufesenque. The only other found in the moulded wares is a bowl on a high stem, which closely follows the type of the Arretine krater seen in Fig. 219; it is therefore either common to Arretium and Condatomagus, or represents a transition from one fabric to the other. Déchelette quotes an instance with the stamp VOLVS , which recalls the Arretine potter Volusenus.

About three-fourths of the vases are ornamented, the decoration falling into two categories: (1) an earlier class with ornament only, occurring on the forms 29 and 30 (see Plate LXVII.); (2) a later with figures, such as animals or gladiators, the forms being Nos. 30 and 37. Of the ornamental motives on form 29, there are five principal types: (a ) simple winding scrolls; (b ) scrolls combined with figures in medallions; (c ) scrolls combined with panels of “arrow-head” pattern; (d ) bands of semicircles enclosing volutes which terminate in rosettes; (e ) figures in metopes. In this form the decoration is almost always in two friezes, a natural consequence of the shape of the vase; the metopes or geometrical compartments only come in with form 37. In the latter form seven successive types of decoration may be distinguished: (α) a transitional system with metopes, derived from the older form; (β) metopes with wavy borders, a


Gaulish Pottery of First Century after Christ (Graufesenque Fabric)

(British Museum ).

diagonal or cruciform pattern often occupying alternate panels (cf. Plate LXVII. fig. 2); (γ) large medallions, often combined with inverted semicircles (chiefly found at Lezoux : cf. Plate LXVIII. fig. 3); (δ) arcading (rare at Graufesenque ); (ε) arcading and semicircles combined; (ζ) large foliage-patterns or vine-leaves, often interspersed with animals; (η) friezes of “free” figures (not found at Graufesenque : cf. Plate LXVIII. fig. 1).

In regard to the figure subjects, mythological types are rare, and generally there is not so much variety as at Lezoux. Déchelette reckons 177 different types in all, of which 112 are peculiar to the fabric, whereas no less than 793 are peculiar to Lezoux. Hence, he points out, the origin of any Gaulish vase may be determined from the nature of the types alone. In artistic execution they are unequal, some being copies of popular themes, others of a naïve and unsophisticated character. Gaulish elements are conspicuously absent. Although the difference from the Arretine style is strongly marked, there is yet the same tendency to display the influence of toreutic prototypes, and even of the “new Attic” reliefs and the genre  types of the Hellenistic period. But others are original and non-classical in style, and there is no homogeneity. Each pottery doubtless had its favourite subjects—a point which may prove of use in determining the separate fabrics. In any case, figure-subjects only prevailed for a short period at Condatomagus, whereas at Lezoux and in Germany they extend over a considerable period. For Gaul did not become Romanised before the reign of Titus; hence the previous absence of mythological themes. The potter Libertus (see below, p. 527), who worked at Lezoux about A.D. 100, stands out as the foremost potter and modeller in Gaul, who, brought up on classical traditions, influenced the whole pottery of the country.

The question of the chronology of these Rutenian fabrics depends more upon the results of comparison with other sites than on the internal evidence of the finds. None of this pottery, for instance, is found at Bibracte, which was deserted about the beginning of our era; but at Andernach vases with Rutenian potters' stamps are found with coins ranging from Augustus to Nero. They are also abundant at Xanten, Neuss, and Vechten in Holland. Evidence may also be obtained from the German Limes, where form 29 disappears about A.D. 30. The exportation of Rutenian wares, therefore, began about the reign of Tiberius. Their wide distribution may be traced by a study of the inscriptions in the thirteenth and other volumes of the Latin Corpus . In Britain they are found in London and at Silchester. Out of thirty-four ornamented vases from the latter site in the Reading Museum, M. Déchelette attributes exactly half to Condatomagus, representing the first century, and the other half to Lezoux, representing the second. In Italy this ware is found at Rome and Pompeii, and of the typical Rutenian subjects some twenty have been noted among the terra sigillata  in Roman museums. The potters Bassus, Jucundus, Mommo, and others of Rutenian origin are found at Rome, whereas the only one from the Auvergne district there is Albucius; and the same names occur at Pompeii, especially that of Mommo, whose stamps are characteristic. The latter group of vases, moreover, supply, as in other cases, important evidence for dating the Rutenian vases; they show, not only that Mommo and the others were in full activity before A.D. 79, but that mythological subjects—not found on the Pompeian examples—were only introduced towards the end of the pottery's activity.

Another well-known potter who appears to have worked at Condatomagus is Vitalis, whose signature in full or in the form OF · VITA  is well known there. He is also found as far afield as Carthage and on the east coast of Spain. This is additional testimony to the extent and quantity of exportations from this centre, and to its position as the most flourishing manufacture in the Roman empire at the time. This popularity it could never have acquired if the fabrics of Arretium, Mutina, and Puteoli had not now reached their decadence; nor, if those of Auvergne, such as Lezoux, or of the Rhenish provinces had been already in full activity, would the Rutenian wares have penetrated into Central Gaul and Germany. M. Déchelette notes as an interesting fact that in some collections of Roman pottery debased wares with Arretine stamps are to be seen, apparently not later than A.D. 80, and evidently imitations of Rutenian ware; these bear the names of L. Rasinius Pisanus and Sex. M. F., of whom mention was made in the last chapter. There is no evidence that this pottery was in existence after A.D. 100, and its rapid disappearance is certainly due to the rise of Lezoux, where, as noted below, Rutenian potters' stamps are not uncommon in the first century.

Déchelette has collected forty-three names of Rutenian potters, which are distributed over two hundred and thirty-two vases or fragments known to him. On form 29 the stamps are only found in the interior of the vases, and hence are not found on the moulds, but both were probably made by the same potters. Vases of the other two forms are often unsigned. Of individuals Mommo occurs sixty-three times, Germanus thirty-eight. The same writer points out that the evidence from Graufesenque would overthrow any theory of itinerant potters, if on no other grounds, from the fact that the moulds of a particular potter are only found on the one spot.

A group of vases which must be mentioned here, though a very small one and not strictly belonging to the terra sigillata , is that of the yellow ware with red marbling. It consists of a small group of bowls and dishes with a dull yellow slip covered with veins of a red colour, producing a variegated effect. Eight of these were found at Trier, one with the stamp of Primus, and there are a few others in German museums. In Southern Gaul, as at Arles, they are more common, and others have been found at Lyons and Vichy. The British Museum possesses one from Bordighera and three from Arles, and they are also known in Sardinia and Southern Italy; there are two at Naples from Pompeii with the stamp of Primus. The latter fact gives a terminus ante quem  for their date, and it is probable that some place in Southern Gaul was the centre of the fabric. Dragendorff suggested Arles, where stamped examples have been found; but Déchelette points out that all the potters' names are Rutenian, and this is conclusive evidence in favour of Graufesenque; in any case we have here an instance of exportation from Gaul into Italy. It is not certain in what manner the marbling has been produced; it is probably an imitation of glass.

Yet another example of a fabric which was imported from Gaul into Italy is to be seen in the pottery of Banassac , a class of vases with inscriptions of a convivial character, with letters in relief encircling the body. The form is that of the hemispherical bowl No. 37, the appearance of which at Pompeii shows that it was developed before A.D. 79. They are found in large numbers in the south of France, especially at Nismes, Orange, Vienne, Montans (Tarn), as well as Banassac; at the latter place fragments have been found on the site of a pottery, showing that they were made there. The most notable example (Fig. 226) was found at Pompeii, and is now in the Naples Museum; it is inscribed BIBE AMICE DE MEO , “Drink, friend, from my (cup),” the letters being separated by leaves, and is of ordinary red terra sigillata  ware. Here, again, it is possible to date the fabric in the first century, not later than the reign of Vespasian. On the local specimens are found such sentiments as Gabalibus felicit(er ), Remis  (felici)ter Sequanis feliciter veni ad me amica bonus puer bona puella ; the two last-named recalling the seaside mugs of the nineteenth century. The convivial inscriptions we shall meet with again in a later fabric from the region of the Rhine. Terra sigillata  was also made here and at Montans in the Department of Tarn; the decoration is in the form of metopes, denoting the transitional period (about A.D. 70). No potters' names are found on the inscribed vases.

From Mus. Borb.

The pottery of Lezoux , in Auvergne, was first carefully studied by the late M. Plicque, who excavated there on a large scale in 1879 and succeeding years, and obtained as a result of his researches no less than three thousand different potters' names, as well as the substructures of about a hundred and sixty furnaces, forty of which were in good preservation, comprising sixty-six distinct manufactories. About twenty-three more manufactories were traced along the principal roads and the banks of the Dore and Allier. He also found numerous remains of tools, potters' wheels, and other apparatus. In addition, he excavated some two hundred tombs containing quantities of pottery, which seemed to imply a general use of it in funeral ceremonies. The potteries here seem to have been already in full working order in the time of Vespasian, and lasted down to about A.D. 260. The earliest date to be obtained from the evidence of coins is about A.D. 70, but the earliest fabrics seem to go back to the time of Claudius; the date of destruction of the site is indicated by coins of Gallienus and Saloninus found among the burnt ruins.

A large proportion of the vases have potters' stamps, but there is no rule about the signatures. In the vases of form 29 the names are in the interior, denoting the masters of the potteries; in the later forms they are on the exterior, having been placed on the inside of the mould before baking, usually among the ornament. The ordinary formula is OF M , or F , with the name in the genitive. As to the distribution of Lezoux vases, there was, as noted below, little exportation before A.D. 100, but after that time they prevail over Britain and Germany. Déchelette gives ninety-two examples with potters' stamps in Britain, including twenty-one names. A few specimens have been found in North Italy; Paternus occurs at Turin, Albucius at Rome.


Gaulish Pottery found in Britain; Lezoux
A.D. 70-250 (Brit. Mus.).

Of the moulded or terra sigillata  wares twelve different forms are found, of which as elsewhere three prevail to the exclusion of the others. The krater type (Dragendorff's No. 11) is only found in the earliest period, about A.D. 40-50, and as already noted forms 29 and 30 are not so common as at Graufesenque, while form 37, which practically took the place of 29, occurs in great quantities. Déchelette distinguishes three chronological epochs of development, covering respectively the periods A.D. 40-75, 75-100, and 110-260. In the first period the decoration of form 29 develops in the same manner as at Graufesenque, but with this important variation, that the running scroll is replaced by a straight  pattern of vine or oak leaves, or bands of rosettes or circles. The colour of the glaze is lighter than at Graufesenque, the reliefs more delicately modelled. The potters of this period, all of whom use form 29, are Atepomarus, Cobnertus, Danomarus, Iliomarus, and Petrecus. It will be noted that these are all Gaulish names, whereas those at Graufesenque are all Latin.

To the second period (A.D. 75-110) belong the bowls of form 37 with transitional or metope decoration, or in the “free” style, which is employed by Libertus, an important potter of Trajan's reign. Exportations now first begin, and examples are found on the Limes, but generally speaking they are few in number, and while the Rutenian potteries existed the output must have been limited. After the reign of Trajan, however, large numbers were exported to Britain and Germany. The cruciform ornamentation is found on the forms 30 and 37, and a peculiar type of egg- or astragalus-pattern (borrowed from Arretium) is used by Butrio and Libertus. Figure subjects, introduced by Libertus, now become general, especially animals and hunting-scenes (see for an example Plate LXVIII. fig. 1). The typical potters of the period are Butrio, Libertus, Carantinus, Divixtus (Plate LXVIII. fig. 2), Juliccus, Laxtucissa, and Putrius.

The third period (110-260) is represented almost exclusively by the form 37 with decoration in “free” style or large medallions and wreaths; a few examples of form 30 and the olla  (Déchelette's No. 68: cf. p. 529) are found. The chief potters' names are Advocatus, Banuus, Catussa, Cinnamus (Plate LXVIII. fig. 3), Doeccus, Lastuca, Paternus, and Servus. Of these, Paternus belongs to the period of the Antonines, and he and Cinnamus, says M. Déchelette, represent the apogee of the prosperity of Lezoux, and of its export commerce. The period of degeneration is marked by the appearance of barbotine decoration and imitations of metal (see below). It is difficult to say exactly when the potteries came to an end, but there is no evidence that terra sigillata  was manufactured after the third century, and Plicque is probably right in attributing their destruction to the German invaders in the reign of Gallienus.

The wares characteristic of the earlier period include dolia  of coarse clay and other plain fabrics, as well as the various types of terra sigillata . Among the latter are examples of importations from the Graufesenque and Banassac potteries and other places in the Aveyron district, but the majority are of local manufacture. These include, besides the moulded red wares with figured decoration and potters' stamps, orange-red wares, yellow polished wares (often micaceous), and black ware with barbotine ornamentation, on which potters' stamps are not found. Lezoux was also a centre for the enamelled glazed wares which have been described in Chapter III. In the later period the red wares are ornamented with figures from moulds, or with barbotine, or have lion's-head spouts (see below). The marbled vases are also found, and in the third century the vases with appliqué reliefs, with incised or hollowed-out ornamentation, or bronzed in imitation of metal, are the prevailing types.

The salient points of difference between the earlier and later fabrics, says Plicque, are these. The clay of the earlier is only baked to a small degree of heat and is not vitreous, but is exceedingly porous. It is also frequently full of micaceous particles. Subsequently it becomes more vitreous but less porous; it is more compact and sonorous, free from mica, and more brilliant and lustrous. In the earlier, the forms are artistic and symmetrical, the ornament sober and elegant, remarkable for its taste and simplicity. The figures are enclosed in medallions, and the ornaments consist of rays or rounded leaves, rows of beads, and guilloche-patterns. In the later, the art degenerates, the ornamentation becoming heavy and overcrowded, and the figures are broken up and badly arranged; the forms of the vases, too, become heavier. The principal decorative pattern is the egg-and-tongue round the rim. In the potters' stamps of the two first periods the letters have frequent ligatures and abbreviations; the names are often in the nominative or with OFFICINA  preceding  the name. Later, the letters are coarser and ligatures are rare; the names are usually in the genitive, followed  by M  (manu ) or OF (ficina ). The characteristic 15 12U for V found in the middle of the second century should be noted.

Among the subsidiary fabrics of Lezoux the most remarkable is that of the vases with appliqué reliefs. They are formed entirely on the wheel, and the decoration is made separately from moulds, and attached with barbotine, either in the form of a medallion or with an irregular outline, varying with the figure. Barbotine in many cases is also employed for foliage patterns filling in the background. The usual form is that of a spherical or ovoid vase (Plate LXIX. fig. 2), which may perhaps be termed an olla , with short neck and no handles. It may be noted in passing that such shapes could not conveniently be moulded, hence the variation of form when we pass from terra sigillata  to other methods of decoration. In the third century this combined process largely supplanted the moulded wares at Lezoux. The paste and glaze, however, are identical with the terra sigillata . No potters' signatures have been found on these vases, but they occur all over Gaul, including Belgium and Switzerland, and also in Britain. In the British Museum (Romano-British Room) there are two very fine specimens found at Felixstowe in Suffolk, one of which is that given on Plate LXIX. Roach-Smith mentions others from London, York, and Richborough, and they are also known at Évreux in France. A good but imperfect example from Gaul is in the Morel Collection, now in the British Museum, and has figures of Herakles and Maenads. The modelling in some cases is admirable, especially in the Felixstowe vases, and in the London specimens published by Roach-Smith, with masks and figures of Cupid. These vases represent the latest stage of the ceramic industry of Lezoux.

Another class of vases made at this centre which may be mentioned here includes a series of paterae ,oinochoae , and trullae with ornamented handles, all obviously made in imitation of metal.Of the paterae  there is a good example in the British Museum from the Towneley Collection, ornamented with athletic contests and cock-fights round the edge. M. Déchelette (ii. p. 319) thinks some of the oinochoae made at Vichy may be imitations of the bronze jugs which are found at Pompeii, but many seem to be of a later date.

During the period A.D. 100-400, and especially in the third century, a class of red wares appears at Lezoux in the form of large bowls with spouts in the shape of lions' heads. These were wrongly identified by Plicque with the acratophorus , but they are clearly mortars (pelves mortaria ), in which food was ground or cooked, the spout serving the purpose of straining off liquid. The lions' heads are made from moulds and attached with barbotine. Some of these have potters' names. As a class they must be distinguished from the plain mortaria  of grey or yellow ware described below.

With the South of France it is necessary to connect a series of medallions with reliefs, intended for attachment to vases of terra sigillata  ware. In one or two cases the vases themselves have been preserved, but usually the medallions alone remain; there are also examples of the moulds in which they were made. Nearly all of these have been found in the valley of the Rhone, at Orange or Vienne,the rest in other parts of France, such as Lezoux, along the Rhine, or at Rome (two examples). They were probably made at Vienne; but there was also a fabric in Germany, examples of which occur at Cologne, Trier, and Xanten. The subjects of the reliefs are very varied, ranging from figures of deities to gladiators or even animals; they frequently bear inscriptions, and their date is the third century after Christ.


As long ago as 1873 Froehner published a series from Orange, with such subjects as Apollo, Venus Victrix, Mars and Ilia, a figure of Lugdunum personified, the freeing of Prometheus and the death of Herakles, Dionysos and Ariadne, a bust of Hermes, a gladiator, a cock and hens, and a bust of the Emperor Geta, the last-named serving as an indication of date for the whole series. Several were inscribed, that with Venus Victrix having CERA FELICIS , which probably refers to the wax in which the figures were first modelled, though some have thought that it represents the Greek κερα(μέως). Another trio from Orange represent respectively:—(1) a chariot race in the circus, with the inscriptions FELICITER, LOGISMUS  (a horse's name), and PRASIN (a F (actio ), “the green party”; (2) Fig. 227, a scene from a play, probably the Cycnus , in which Herakles is saying to Ares, the would-be avenger of his son, “(Invicta) virtus nusquam terreri potest ,” the god proclaiming “Adesse ultorem nati me credas mei ”; in the background, on a raised stage or θεολογεῖον, are deities; (3) an actor in female costume. There are also three in the Hermitage Museum at Petersburg, of which two represent Poseidon, the third Hermes. Caylus also gives a representation of a vase with three such medallions, with busts of Pluto and Persephone, Mars and Ilia, and two gladiators. Where gladiators with names appear it may be assumed that they are portraits of real people, and Déchelette argues from this that the vases were made specially in connection with gladiatorial (or theatrical) performances.

From Gaz. Arch.

An interesting group found at Vienne and Vichy have subjects taken from the Thirteenth Iliad, such as Deiphobos and the Locrian Ajax, or Hector fighting the Achaeans. Among the remaining examples known the most interesting are three from Orange, one of which represents a festival in honour of Isis, the other two, the victory of Hippomedon over Atalanta (Fig. 228), with an inscription of three lines:

Respicit ad malum pernicibus ignea plantis,
Quae pro dote parat mortem quicumque fugaci
Velox in cursu cessasset virgine visa.

Reference has already been made to a paper by M. Blanchet, in which he gives a list of the sites in Gaul on which pottery appears to have been made. But in the majority of these cases plain wares must have been the only output. Moulded wares, as Déchelette points out, required skill and resource to produce. In any case, very few types are found on moulded wares which cannot be also associated with Graufesenque or Lezoux, and any made on other sites must have followed the same methods of decoration. The places given in Blanchet's list cover practically the whole extent of France, though the principal centres of activity were always the Aveyron and Allier districts and the Rhone valley. In the neighbourhood of Lezoux, for instance, vases were made at Clermont-Ferrand, Lubié, St.-Bonnet, and Thiers. At Nouâtre, Indre-et-Loire, was an important pottery, not yet fully investigated; and others were at Rozier (Lozère), Auch (Gers), Montauban, Luxueil (Haute-Saône), St.-Nicholas near Nancy, and Aoste (Isère), where vases of characteristic originality were made. But it is not likely that any future investigations will displace Graufesenque and Lezoux as the chief centres for Gaulish terra sigillata .

3. The Fabrics of Germany

In Germany the oldest and one of the most important sites for pottery is Andernach, between Bonn and Coblenz, where however, it must be borne in mind, there was no local manufacture; its importance is mainly as a site yielding valuable chronological evidence. The finds extend from the beginning of the first century down to about A.D. 250, the earlier objects finding parallels in cemeteries at Trier and Regensburg which can be similarly dated. Generally speaking, it has been observed that Roman remains begin on the left bank of the Rhine a century earlier than those in the border forts on the Limes, which cover the period from A.D. 100 to 250.

Terra sigillata  with reliefs is comparatively rare, though, as we have seen, it was at an early period exported from Gaul, and the pottery consists chiefly of ordinary wares, red, grey, and black, usually of good and careful execution, with thin walls. Much of this common pottery may be assumed to be of local manufacture. The characteristic types of the first century are simple jugs of plain ware without slip for funerary or domestic use; vases with white slip (also found at Regensburg); black ware bowls and dishes, sometimes with potters' stamps; black and grey cinerary urns. These forms include small urns and the usual cups and bowls with straight or sloping sides, replaced after A.D. 100 by spherical-bodied jars with narrow necks. The decoration comprises all the varieties we have included in the foregoing survey: barbotine, incised linear patterns, impressed patterns made with the thumb, and raised ornaments such as plain knobs or leaves worked with the hand. In the third century painted decoration is introduced, as in the black ware drinking-vessels with inscriptions described below.

At Xanten (Castra Vetera), lower down the Rhine, large quantities of terra sigillata  have been found, which can be dated by means of coin-finds from the beginning of the first century down to the third. During this period a steady degeneration in the pottery may be observed, although glass fabrics correspondingly improve; in the time of the Antonines the clay is coarse and often artificially coloured with red lead or other ingredients, producing what was formerly known as “false Samian” ware.

An exceptionally interesting centre, and in some respects the most important in Germany, is that at Westerndorf  on the Inn, between Augsburg and Salzburg, where the coins range from about A.D. 160 to 330. It was first explored in 1807 and as long ago as 1862 the results were carefully investigated and summarised by Von Hefner in a still valuable treatise. The pottery includes terra sigillata  of the later types, and plain red, yellow, and grey wares, sometimes covered with a non-lustrous grey or reddish slip, or with black varnish, the latter have very thin walls and are baked very hard. The decoration of the terra sigillata  comprises all the usual types, the forms being also those prevalent elsewhere, with the addition of a covered jar or pyxis , but the figures are confined to the cylindrical or hemispherical bowls (Nos. 30 and 37). The plain wares include cinerary urns, deep bowls or jars, with simple ornament, open bowls with impressed patterns, and mortaria .

Of some peculiarities of the potters' stamps we have already spoken; they are found in the form of oblongs or human feet, and more rarely in circles, half-moons, or spirals, the letters being both in relief and incised. Trade marks were sometimes used, the potter Sentis, for instance, using a thorn-twig by way of a play on his name. Names are both in the nominative and genitive, with some abbreviated form in the one case of FECIT , in the other of MANVS  or OFFICINA. Local names are clearly to be seen in those of Belatullus, Iassus, and Vologesus.

Another important centre of fabric in Germany is Rheinzabern  (Tabernae Rhenanae) near Speier, which probably shared with Westerndorf a monopoly of the moulded wares. The pottery found here is mostly in the Speier Museum; it is almost all of form 37, with its typical decoration, and the fabric does not seem to have been established before the second century. The chief potters' names are Belsus, Cerialis, Cobnertus, Comitialis, Julius, Juvenis, Mammillianus, Primitivus, and Reginus. The British Museum possesses moulds for large bowls with free friezes of animals, one with the stamp of Cerialis; there was little export to Gaul, but a considerable amount to Britain. M. Déchelette notes the similarity of the types to those of Lezoux, and suggests that Rheinzabern is an offshoot from the latter pottery. This site has also produced barbotine wares, which bear a remarkable superficial resemblance to that of Castor, and have been wrongly identified therewith; but they are not found at Castor, and in point of fact differ widely in artistic merit, being far superior to the British fabric, as has been pointed out by Mr. Haverfield. The ornamentation is a formal and conventional imitation of classical models, whereas the Castor ware is only classical in its elements, and is otherwise barbaric yet unconventional.

It is possible that Trier, and in fact all places mentioned in a preceding chapter as sites of kilns may be regarded as centres of manufacture, though in only a few cases was anything made beyond the ordinary plain wares. Of the latter a useful summary has been made by Koenen, chiefly from the technical point of view, which it may be worth while to recapitulate. He divides the pottery of the Rhine district (which may be taken as typical) into three main classes: the first transitional from the La Tène period to Roman times; the second, native half-baked cinerary urns; the third, Roman pottery, ousting the other two. The first two classes cover the local hand-made wares of grey, brown, or black clay, which are clearly of native make, and like the similar wares of Britain and Gaul hardly come under the heading of Roman pottery, though subsequently they felt its influence. The Roman pottery proper (which can be well studied in the museums of Bonn, Trier, and elsewhere on the Rhine) is divided by Koenen into three periods: Early, Middle, and Late Empire. Roman wares first appear with coins of Augustus, and at this period exercise much influence on the La Tène types, producing a sort of mixed style, usually of greyish or black clay with impressed or incised ornament, subsequently replaced by barbotine. The terra sigillata  is either of the superior deep red variety with sharp outlines and details, which we have seen to emanate from Gaul, or else plain ware of a light red hue (“false Samian”), without ornament. But as Hölder has pointed out, the settlement of the chronology of German pottery (apart from the sigillata ) is particularly difficult, because we are dealing with a purely utilitarian fabric, which consequently preserved its forms unaltered through a considerable period; moreover, there must have been many local fabrics and little exportation, which makes comparison difficult.


To the German fabrics belong a group of vases with painted inscriptions found on the Lower Rhine, and less frequently in North and East France. They occur in the second century at the Saalburg, and last down to the fourth; large numbers have also been found at Trier, and other examples at Mesnil and Étaples (Gessoriacum) in France. The usual form is that of a round-bellied cup or jar (Fig. 229), with a more or less high stem and plain moulded mouth. Their ornamentationis confined to berries, vine-tendrils, and scrolls, at first naturalistic, afterwards becoming conventionalised; but their chief interest lies in the inscriptions, which, like those of the Banassac type described above, are of a convivial character. They are painted in bold well-formed capitals, in the same white pigment which is used for the ornamentation; the following examples will serve as specimens:

BELLVS SVA (deo?).
DE ET DO, DOS  (= δός).
SESES  = ZESES  = ζήσαις.

To this list must be added a remarkable vase of the same class found at Mainz in 1888, with the inscription ACCIPE M (esi )TIE (n )S ET TRADE SODALI , “Take me when you are thirsty and pass me on to your comrade.” Above the inscription are seven busts of deities, Sol, Luna, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, representing the seven days of the week; both the design and the inscription, however, are incised, not painted.

4. Roman Pottery in the Netherlands, Spain, and Britain

In Holland and Belgium  finds of terra sigillata  and potters' stamps are recorded from various sites, such as Arentsburg, Rossem, Rousse, near Oudenarde, Voorburg, between Utrecht and Leyden, and Wyk-by-Durstede, and also at Utrecht. At Vechten near Utrecht, the ancient Fictio on the road from Lugdunum (Leiden) to Noviomagus (Nimeguen) finds were made in 1868 which confirm the activity of the Rutenian potters in the first century. These discoveries included coins extending from the Republican period down to Trajan, and terra sigillata  of the Graufesenque type, with many names of potters belonging to that region.

In Spain  finds have been made on various sites, and there are numerous examples in the museum at Tarragona; at Murviedro, the site of the ancient Saguntum, which, as we have seen, is mentioned by Pliny and Martial as an important centre, various kinds of Roman ware have come to light, some with potters' stamps, but no evidence remains of potteries or of any local manufacture.

In Britain —at least in England—finds of Roman pottery have been so plentiful and so universal that it is difficult to select typical centres for discussion. It must also be borne in mind that, with the exception of the plain wares and a few other fabrics, such as the Castor ware, we have not to deal with local manufactures. A certain quantity of terra sigillata  may have been imported from Germany (e.g. from Westerndorf), but by far the greater proportion is from Gaul, as is shown by the potters' names.

We propose in the first place to review briefly the types of terra sigillata  which occur in Britain.The bowls of forms 29 and 30, which are found in Germany in the first century, do not occur on the Roman Wall, and we have already seen that they are not later than Hadrian's time; but they are common in the South of Britain, as at London and Colchester. Roach-Smith and other earlier writers have published specimens of these older forms decorated with figures which have been found in London, Bath, York, Caerleon, and elsewhere. The earliest dateable examples of form 37 have been found with coins of Nerva at Churchover in Warwickshire; this type is indeed common all over Britain, and is one of the few varieties of terra sigillata  occurring in the North. It is found at South Shields, along the Roman Wall, and in Scotland at Birrens in Dumfriesshire. Pottery of the second century is represented by a variety of the same form, with a moulded ridge breaking the outline in the middle; this would seem to be a type which also occurs in Germany during the second and third centuries. Mr. Haverfield states that this form is found at South Shields and in Yorkshire, and is imitated at Silchester. Of the principal subjects on these we have already given some description. Finally, there is the wide shallow type, approximating to the mortar or pelvis , the upper part of which forms externally a flat, vertical band, projecting beyond and forming a tangent with the general curve of the bowl; this is usually ornamented with lions' heads in relief. This variety is not earlier than the second century, and is also found in the third; we have already seen that it was made at Lezoux.

It is important to note that all the places mentioned as yielding bowls of forms 29 and 30 were occupied at least as early as A.D. 85, perhaps as early as A.D. 50. But the style of these bowls may have lasted longer; at all events, the varieties are so numerous as to show a development for which some time is required. There is also a distinct development in the plain band round the upper edge of the bowl, which, at first a mere beading, becomes broader and more vertical by degrees. It may, however, be assumed that, as none are found north of York, it disappeared from Britain, as from Gaul and Germany, before A.D. 100.

The ware formerly known as “false Samian” (Dragendorff's hellroth ) appears in several varieties. The light red or orange colour is produced by a kind of slip of pounded pottery laid over the surface. Vases of this type, glazed within and without with a thin reddish-brown and somewhat lustrous glaze, occur in London, and a good specimen was found many years ago at Oundle in Northants, but has since disappeared. It was a fine vase, of light-red clay with red-brown glaze, resembling the Gaulish terra sigillata , and had some claim to artistic merit. The subject was Pan holding up a mask, and three draped figures, and it bore the stamp of the Gaulish potter Libertus (OF · LIBERTI ), who, as we have seen, worked at Lezoux. This ware is often coarse, and ornamented externally with rude white scrolls painted in opaque colour, and there is a variety found at Castor, of red glazed ware with a metalloid lustre, the clay itself varying from white to yellowish-brown or orange. Both shapes and ornaments resemble those of the Castor black ware (see below), and it seems likely that this is actually a local fabric, the difference in colouring being due to the degree of heat employed in the firing.

The number of potters' names found on these wares in Britain is very large, those in the seventh volume of the Latin Corpus  amounting to about 1,500. This list, published in 1873, of course superseded all those previously drawn up by the Hon. R. C. Neville, by Roach-Smith, and by Thomas Wright.Roach-Smith, however, performed a useful service in tabulating the list of names found in London along with those from Douai and other sites in France, which went far to prove the Gaulish origin of the British terra sigillata . It is not, therefore, necessary to discuss the potters' names found in Britain in further detail. Besides the potters' stamps, incised inscriptions sometimes occur on the pottery, giving the owner's name or other items of information.

To give a detailed account of all the sites in Britain on which Roman pottery has been found would be a task entailing more labour and occupying more space than the results would justify. Not only do the sites cover almost the whole of the country from the Roman Wall to the Isle of Wight, and from Exeter to Norfolk, but the disinterring of the material from miscellaneous and often unscientific records, or from scattered and uncatalogued collections, would be a truly gigantic achievement. It should, however, be achieved; but this will only be by co-operation, each county performing its share of the work, as has been done in a few cases. The Society of Antiquaries has issued archaeological surveys of certain counties, which without entering into details tabulate the sites of Roman remains; and it is to be hoped that forthcoming volumes of the Victoria County History  will do for other counties what those already published have done for Hampshire, Norfolk, Northants, etc. The most representative collections are those of the British Museum and the Guildhall in London, and of the provincial museums at Colchester, Reading, York, and elsewhere.

We now turn to the consideration of the local products of Romano-British potters. Exclusive of the plain unornamented wares which were made in many places, as the numerous remains of kilns show (cf. p. 454), there are only three distinct fabrics to be mentioned. In all of these the ware is black, with or without a glaze, but the style of ornamentation varies.

By far the most important centre, not only for the quantity of pottery it has yielded and the extent of its furnaces, but also for the artistic merit of its products, is that of Castor , in Northamptonshire. Of the numerous traces of furnaces and workshops discovered here, in the neighbouring villages of Wansford, Sibson, Chesterton, and in the Bedford Purlieus, we have already spoken in a previous chapter; it now only remains to discuss the technical and artistic aspects of the pottery.

Artis has recorded that the pieces of pottery found in or near the kilns show great variety of form and style, including the red imitations of terra sigillata , pieces ornamented with “machine-turned” patterns, and dark-coloured ware with reliefs or ornament in white paint. But the characteristic and commonest Castor ware has a white paste coloured by means of a slip with a dark slate-coloured surface; the usual form is that of a small jar on a stem with plain cylindrical mouth. Some are merely marked with indentations made by the potter's thumb, or with rude patterns laid on the intervening ridges; but others have designs laid on en barbotine  in a slip of the same colour as the vase, and others of rarer occurrence are decorated in white paint with conventional foliated patterns, somewhat resembling the Rhenish wares described on p. 537. Haverfield reproduces a fragment of a vase on which are painted in white and yellow a man's head in peaked cap, and an arm holding an axe. The barbotine variety is the most typical, and is by no means confined to this site. It is often found in Central and Eastern England, and even in the Netherlands. One of the finest specimens was found at Colchester in 1853, containing calcined bones, and ornamented with figures over which inscriptions are incised. The subjects, arranged in friezes, include two stags, a hare, and a dog, interspersed with foliations; two men training a dancing-bear, one of whom holds a whip and is protected by armour; and a combat of two gladiators (murmillo  and Thrax ) of a type familiar to us from Roman lamps. Over the heads of the men with the bear is inscribed, SECVNDVS MARIO ; over the gladiators, MEMN (o )N  SAC · VIIII and VALENTINV · LEGIONIS · XXX , respectively. The meaning of the inscriptions is not quite clear, but the last one certainly seems to allude to games taking place at the post of the thirtieth legion—i.e. the Lower Rhine. For this and other reasons Mr. Haverfield is of opinion that the vase may have been made in that district and not at Castor, and it is not, of course, impossible that such ware was not confined to Britain. This would, at any rate, explain its presence in the Netherlands. Mr. Arthur Evans has noted the presence of an unfinished piece of Castor ware in a kiln at Littlemore, near Oxford.


Types of Romano-British Pottery: Castor Ware, etc.

The Vase with Incised Patterns is from Gaul (British Museum).

Hunting-scenes are also very popular, especially a huntsman spearing a boar, or a hare or deer chased by stags, as on a fine vase found at Water Newton, Hunts, in 1827. A specimen in the British Museum with a race of four-horse chariots is illustrated on Plate LXIX. Roach-Smith gives a remarkable specimen with a mythological subject, that of Herakles and Hesione; the subject is curiously treated, Hesione being chained down with heavy weights. Another interesting but fragmentary vase from Chesterford in Essex has figures of Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus, and it may be assumed that the complete subject was that of the seven deities represented by the days of the week. Otherwise the potter is content with animals, such as dolphins or fishes, or mere foliations, ivy-wreaths, engrailed lines, and other ornamental patterns.

In regard to the technique of these wares, Artis notes that the indented patterns were made while the vase was “as pliable as it could be taken from the lathe”; for the barbotine the thumb or a rounded instrument was employed. Figures of animals were executed with a kind of skewer on which the slip was placed, a thicker variety being used for certain parts to heighten the relief, and a more delicate instrument for features and other details. No subsequent retouching was possible. The vases were glazed subsequently to the application of the barbotine; on the other hand, the decoration in white paint was made after glazing. The glaze was produced by a deposit of carbon, by the process known as “smothering”; it varies in quality, being either dark without any metallic lustre, or with a metalloid polish resembling that produced with black-lead.

The date of the Castor ware is difficult to ascertain, but it must begin fairly early in the Roman period, on account of its affinities with late Celtic pottery. Déchelette (ii. p. 310) would date the ware towards the end of the third century. As has already been pointed out, it is only the elements of the decoration that are classical; they are treated in a rude, debased manner, with the free unconventional handling characteristic of barbaric art. “They are not an imitation, but a recasting” according to the traditions of late Celtic or Gaulish art, such as is displayed, for instance, in the ancient British and Gallic coinage. The fantastic animals, the treatment of the scrolls, and the dividing ornaments of beading, etc., between the subjects are essentially unclassical. Potters' stamps on this ware are exceedingly rare, an almost isolated instance being CAMARO · F  on a vase found at Lincoln.

Two other local varieties of black ware peculiar to Britain are those known respectively as Upchurch and New Forest ware. Although no remains of kilns have been found in the former district, the pottery is obviously local, and its manufacture appears to have extended along the banks of the Medway from Rainham to Iwade, over what are now marshes, but was then firm ground. The remains consist of a thin finely-moulded bluish-black fabric, with graceful and varied forms, ornamented with groups of small knobs in bands, squares, circles, wavy, intersecting, or zigzag lines, or a characteristic pattern of concentric semi-circles resting on bands of parallel vertical lines (Plate LXIX. fig. 6). This ware has also been found on the Continent, and may either have been exported or else made in other places besides Upchurch; it is probably of quite late date.

The clay is soft and easily scratched, and is covered with a polish or lustre produced by friction; the composition is fine, and the walls thin and well turned. It varies in tone from greyish, like that of London clay, to a dull black. The vases are mostly small (cups, bottles, jugs, small jars, and occasional mortaria ), and some have ribbed sides; the ornamentation is always either in the form of impressed lines or raised patterns made by applying pieces of clay before the vase was baked. No potters' stamps have come to light, nor is this ware found with coins or other Roman remains. Rough earthenware was also made in the Medway district, of a red, yellow, or stone colour.

The New Forest ware is found in the north-west part of the Forest, between Fordingbridge and Bramshaw. It is sometimes spoken of as “Crockhill ware,” from the local name of the site of the furnaces, of which traces were found in 1852. The pottery consists of two varieties, one of thin, hard, slate-coloured ware, with patterns of leaves or grass painted in white (Plate LXIX. fig. 5); these are small jars, averaging six inches in height, sometimes moulded by the potter's thumb into an undulating circumference. There are points of resemblance with the Castor ware. The other variety consists of a thicker ware, with a dull white-yellowish ground and coarse foliated patterns painted in red or brown, usually platters or dishes. It is a rude and inartistic fabric, of obviously native origin and resembling Celtic rather than any Roman or Italian pottery. It is found on other sites in Hampshire, such as Bitterne (Clausentum), and even as far north as Oxford. The date is probably the third century of our era. With the kilns there were found heaps of potsherds which had been spoiled in the baking and rejected; they were vitrified so as to resemble stoneware, and when again submitted to the action of fire, cracked and split. The glaze with which the local blue clay had been covered was of a dark-red colour and alkaline nature, but had probably been affected by imperfect firing.

5. Plain Roman Wares

The plain unornamented and unglazed Roman pottery which answered to the modern earthenware has usually been considered by writers on the subject in a different category from the glazed and ornamented wares. Although from the very simplicity of its character it defies scientific classification, yet it must be remembered that this common ware was not likely to have been exported very far from the place of its origin, and therefore where any differences can be observed in the nature or appearance of the clay, in peculiarities of form or of technique, it is not impossible to establish the existence of a local fabric. But up to the present little has been done except in isolated instances. Certain local wares have been recognised in Britain, as will be noted below, besides the Castor, Upchurch, and New Forest wares, some of which almost come under this heading; and others, again, in Gaul. Similarly in Germany, attempts have been made by Koenen and other writers to classify the plain pottery whether according to form or on other principles.

Many years ago a rough but in some respects convenient classification was made by Brongniart on the basis of the colour of the clay employed, which he distinguished under four heads: (1) pale yellow or white wares; (2) red wares, varying to reddish-brown; (3) grey or ash-coloured wares; (4) black wares. In the first division he included the large, often coarse, vases, such as the dolia  and amphorae ; under the second head Roman ware of the first century, and under the third that of subsequent date; while the fourth class comprised Gallo-Roman and other provincial wares. A somewhat similar system, in some respects even less chronological, was attempted by Buckman, who distinguished brown ware as a separate fabric. The obvious defect of these systems is that they are neither chronological nor according to fabrics, and that their basis is in many respects a purely accidental one; but at the same time they have proved convenient for discussing plain ware which does not admit of much consideration apart from its forms and the general appearance of its composition. And at all events they enable us to discuss examples of certain shapes under one head, inasmuch as the amphorae  and dolia  are nearly all of the first class, the mortaria  or pelves  of the third, cups, dishes, and flasks of the second and fourth, and so on.

The yellow ware is distinguished by its coarse clay, of a greyish-white or yellow colour, varying to dirty white, grey, or red. It is to this division that all the larger vases belong, such as those used for storing wine and other commodities or for funerary purposes, and the innumerable fragments of dolia and amphorae  which compose the Monte Testaccio at Rome. Some of these vases were made on the wheel, but others were modelled by hand and turned from within. Those used in burial were usually of a globular form, or even dolia  with the necks and handles broken off, and contained cinerary urns and glass vessels. We also find lagenae trullae  (saucepans), and mortaria  made in this ware. Another remarkable variety may be described as a kind of olla ; its peculiarity is that it is modelled in the form of a human head, much in the same style as the primitive vases of Troy. A vase of this type found at Bootham, near Lincoln, had painted on the foot D (e )O MIIRCVRIO , “To the god Mercury,“ in brown letters. The clay is light yellow, with a slip of the same colour.

A finer variety of this clay, often of a rosy tint, or white and micaceous, was used for making the smaller vases, which are thin and light, and all turned on the wheel. They are sometimes ornamented with bands, lines, hatching, or leaves, slightly indicated in dull ochre, laid on and fired with the vase. Some specimens are covered with a flat white slip, of a more uniform character than that employed on the Athenian vases. In others the clay is largely mixed with grains of quartz. In Britain little jars of a very white clay have sometimes been found, as well as small bottles and dishes, painted inside with patterns in a dull red or brown. They seem to have formed a kind of finer ware for ornamental purposes, as well as for the table.

The second class, that of the red wares, forms by far the largest division of Roman plain pottery, and comprises most of the kinds used for domestic purposes; it is found in all forms and sizes, all over Europe, often covered with a coating or slip, white, black, or red. This class may be considered to include all varieties of red and reddish-brown ware, but as a rule the clay varies in colour from pale rose to deep coral, and in quality from a coarse gritty composition to a fine compact and homogeneous paste. It is usually without a glaze, and sometimes the clay is largely micaceous. To enumerate all the shapes which illustrate this ware is unnecessary, but the Romano-British and Morel Collections in the British Museum—and in fact any representative collection of Roman pottery—exhibit all the principal varieties, from the cinerary urn to the so-called “tear-bottle” or unguent vase. The principal shapes are also illustrated in the treatises of Hölder and Koenen.

Among sepulchral vases of this ware were the ollae  in which the ashes of slaves were placed in the columbaria  at Rome, tall jars with moulded rims and flat saucer-shaped covers. In Roman tombs in Gaul and Britain these ollae  are usually placed inside large dolia  or amphorae, to protect them from the weight of the superincumbent earth. In Britain they have been found at Lincoln, on the sites of Roman settlements along the Dover Road, at Colchester, and in other places, and as many as twenty thousand are recorded as having been found at Bordeaux. After the introduction of Christianity this practice seems to have been abandoned, but vases of smaller size continued to be placed round the bones of the dead.

The grey wares were usually made of fine clay, of which there were two varieties: a sandy loam like that of which bricks are made on the borders of the chalk formations in England, and a heavy stone-coloured paste, sonorous when struck, which has been compared to the clay of modern Staffordshire ware. The colour of the first-named is light and its texture brittle, and it was chiefly used for mortaria , or for cooking-vessels which were exposed to the heat of the fire. The mortaria  resemble modern milk-pans, being flat, with overlapping edges and a grooved spout opening in front. They appear to have been used both for cooking, many bearing traces of the action of fire, and for grinding food or other commodities, the latter purpose probably explaining the presence, in the interior of many examples, of small pebbles, or a hard coating of pounded tile, to counteract the effects of trituration. They are usually of a hard coarse texture, but compact and heavy, and their colour varies from pale red to bright yellow or creamy white.


They are frequently stamped with the name of the potter, placed in a square or rectangular panel on the rim and often arranged in two lines. The names are either single, denoting the work of slaves, as Albinus, Brixsa, Catulus, Sollus, and Marinus, or double and occasionally even triple, for the work of freedmen, as Q. Valerius, Sex. Valerius, Q. Averus Veranius, and so on. The example given in Fig. 230 is from Ribchester in Lancashire, and bears the stamp BORIED (us )F (ecit ). A mortarium  recently dug up in Bow Lane, London, now in the Guildhall Museum, has the name of Averus Veranius with O · GARR · FAC  in smaller type between the words, apparently referring to the place of manufacture. One of the commonest names is that of Ripanus Tiberinus, who gives the name of the place where he worked: RIPANVS · TIBER · F · | LVGVDV FACT Ripanus Tiber(inus) f(ecit); Lugudu(ni) fact(um). The potters' names are usually accompanied by the letters OF  or F. The mortaria vary from seven to twenty-three inches in diameter, and are found in England, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Of the second or heavier variety a curious vase in the form of a human head was found at Castor; much of the New Forest ware also comes under the same heading, including the small cups with pinched-in sides, some being covered with a slip of micaceous consistency.

Of black ware many varieties have been found in Gaul and Britain, besides the special local wares which have already been described. Some were employed as funerary urns, but the majority are of small size, and in quality they vary from the extremest coarseness to a fine polished clay, producing an effect almost equal to the Greek or Etruscan black wares. The finest specimens of plain black ware are to be seen in the vases with a highly polished surface, presenting a metallic appearance and an olive hue which almost approximates to that of bronze. Examples of this ware are found in Gaul at Lezoux, in Britain at Castor, and elsewhere.

In the first century after Christ a superior kind of black ware seems to have been made in Northern Gaul and Germany, described by Dragendorff as “Belgic black ware.” The clay is bluish-grey, with black polished surface produced like that of the bucchero ware by smoke, not like the black glaze of later Roman ware. A similar variety of grey ware exists, but without glaze or polish. The forms of the vases vary very much from the Roman, including a typical high, slim urn and other more squat forms, closely imitating metal; they bear some relation to those of the La Tène period, and are Celtic or Gaulish rather than German. Such ornamentation as they bear is exclusively linear, and never in relief. There is, however, a Roman form of plate which often occurs, and, generally speaking, the fabric may be described as a continuation of pre-Roman pottery influenced by Italy. It is well represented at Xanten and Andernach, but is not found on the Limes, and is rare in Britain; it does not seem to have been made after the beginning of the Flavian epoch, when it was largely superseded by the ordinary Roman black glazed wares.

A special kind of black ware seems to have been made in the valley of the Rhone, consisting of pots of a coarse, gritty paste with micaceous particles, breaking with a coarse fracture of a dark red colour. They have been mostly found at Vienne, where they seem to have been made. The bottom of the vase is usually impressed with a circular stamp with the potter's name in late letters, as L · CASSI · O F (ir )MINVS · F SEVVO · F SIMILIS · F  (from Aix). The well-known name of Fortis has also been found on black ware from Aix.

In Britain black ware is, as elsewhere, exceedingly common, and a typical group of the smaller varieties is afforded by a series of five found in a sarcophagus at Binsted in Hampshire, now in the British Museum, consisting of two calices , a jar (olla ), an acetabulum , and a kind of candlestick. The Upchurch ware largely belongs to this category, and much of the same kind has been found at Weymouth.

Brown ware of a very coarse style is often found with other Roman remains, consisting of amphorae and other vessels for domestic use. Examples of amphorae and jugs with female heads modelled on the necks have been found at Richborough and elsewhere.

At Wroxeter the excavations yielded two new classes of pottery, one consisting of narrow-necked jugs and mortaria , very beautifully made from a white local clay, which has been identified with that found at Broseley in the neighbourhood, nowadays supplying material for the manufacture of tobacco-pipes. The surface is decorated with red and yellow stripes. The other kind is a variety of red ware which has been styled “Romano-Salopian,” made from clay obtained in the Severn valley, and differing from the common Roman ware. It is, however, exceedingly doubtful whether these types should be classed under the heading Roman.

In conclusion, it may be noted that although all provincial museums contain more or less complete collections of the ordinary plain fabrics, they are for the most part of strictly local origin, and not in themselves sufficient for general study. But since the acquisition of the Morel Collection by the British Museum the student has ample facilities for investigating there not only the fabrics of Britain, but also those of Gaul, of which an exhaustive series is now incorporated in our national collection.

With this review of the ceramic industries of the Roman Empire, we conclude our survey of the pottery of the classical world. We have followed its rise from the rough, almost shapeless products of the Neolithic and earliest Bronze Age, when the potter's wheel was as yet unknown (on classical soil), and decoration was not attempted, or was confined to the rudest kinds of incised patterns. We have traced the development of painted decoration from monochrome to polychrome, from simple patterns to elaborate pictorial compositions, and so to its gradual decay and disappearance under the luxurious and artificial tendencies of the Hellenistic Age, when men were ever seeking for new artistic departures, and a new system of technique arose which finally substituted various forms of decoration in relief for painting. And lastly, we have seen how this new system established itself firmly in the domain of Roman art, until with the gradual decay of artistic taste and under the encroachments of barbarism, it sank into neglect and oblivion. We observe, too, with a melancholy interest, that while other arts, such as architecture, painting, and metal-work, have left some sort of heritage to the later European civilisations, and like the runners in the Greek torch-race

vitai lampada tradunt,

this is not so in the case of pottery. This art had, it would seem, completely worn itself out, and had, in fact, returned to the level of its earliest beginnings. The decorative element disappears, and pottery becomes, as in its earliest days, a mere utilitarian industry, the secrets of its former technical achievements irrevocably lost, its ornamentation reduced to the simplest and roughest kinds of decoration, and its status among the products of human industry once more limited to the mere supplying of one of the humblest of men's needs.

But this was inevitable, and we must perforce be content; for have we not seen, in the course of its rise and fall, a reflection of the whole history of Greek art, from the humble beginnings in which Pausanias descried the touch of something divine which presaged its future greatness? It is unnecessary to recapitulate the manner in which the successive stages of Greek art are mirrored in the pottery, from the first efforts of the Athenian potter down to the eclecticism of the Arretine ware. Let it suffice to say that the object of this work has been twofold: firstly, to show the many-sided interests of the historical study of ancient pottery; secondly, to point out its value to the student of ancient art and mythology: and that it is the modest hope of the writer that this object has been in some measure fulfilled.