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Pottery in the Roman Period

Samian ware (Terra Sigillata)

Mould made fine pottery. The standard fine table ware throughout the Roman world in the early Empire is known as Samian ware (also called terra sigillata). There are already forerunners (Megarian bowls) produced in the East, most probably first manufactured at Pergamun (mid second century BC). The so-called Eastern Sigillata ware started a little later, shortly after 100 BC.

(click on the images for more information and larger pictures)

The Megarian bowls were the Greek precursors of the later Roman terra sigillata. The vessels are rare and only a few have been found in Egypt.

In the early years of the reign of Augustus, large scale production of Samian ware was started in Arretium (Arezzo). The products of these workshops are of the highest quality, maybe from moulds created by master artists. Samian ware produced in Arretium was traded to Egypt, but not the products of the Gallic workshops. Around AD 60 Arretium lost its importance as production centre for Samian ware, when workshops in Gaul became important.

Samian ware seems not very widespread in Egypt in the Early Roman Imperial Period. However, in the later Roman Empire it became common. There are four main production centres, providing Egypt with this kind of table ware:

Asia Minor: 'Late Roman C' ware. It is very common in the rest of the Eastern Empire, but not often found in Egypt.
'Cypriot Red Slip': produced in Cyprus and exported to Northern Egypt, Syria and Palestine.
'African Red Slip': produced in Central Northern Africa (modern Tunisia) and exported to many parts of the Roman Empire, especially around the Mediterranean.
'Egyptian A-C'. Fine Samian table ware (often called 'imitation Samian ware'). Egyptian A was most likely produced in Thebes. The ware is found in Upper Egypt and in Nubia. End of fourth to seventh century AD.

Other (locally produced) mould made pottery
UC 19517


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