Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
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In common with most great civilizations, ancient Rome developed very distinctive and fine types of pottery for the table. During the Republican period (fifth-first century BC), Romans used the Black Glaze pottery common throughout the Mediterranean, but with particular types of stamps and occasional Latin inscriptions. Other distinctive wares were made or used in Italy, such as Thin-Walled ware or Lead-Glazed ware.
However, the real revolution in pottery making came in the mid-first century BC, when potteries in central Italy began mass producing ceramics with a fine shiny red-slipped finish, terra sigillata (literally 'sealed or slipped clay'). However, this was fairly rapidly supplanted by other industries. In southern, central and eastern Gaul, Gaulish sigillata or Samian ware was produced, which became the most common Roman fineware in Britain and the rest of the northern Empire. The Mediterranean markets were supplied by African Red Slip ware, produced in workshops in central and northern Tunisia, and by other wares from the East Mediterranean. African Red Slip Ware remained the most popular fine ware throughout the Empire until the sixth and seventh century, when trade in the Mediterranean largely collapsed.