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Gaulish red slip pottery bowl

 

Height: 4.000 inches
Diameter: 9.000 inches

Bequeathed by Felix Slade

GR 1869.2-5.5 (Vases M 4)

Room 70: Roman Empire

    Gaulish red slip pottery bowl

    Roman, AD 20-40
    Made at La Graufesenque, near southern France

    With relief decoration of tendrils and buds

    This fine tableware bowl is covered with decoration. A band of extended ovals rise from the base; a broad band of tendrils, buds and flowers runs around the middle of the bowl, and multiple bands of rouletting decorate the rim. The decoration was achieved through impressing the designs onto the interior of a mould, and the vessel was then thrown in the mould which was mounted on a potter's wheel. This production technique allowed vessels to be produced uniformly in large numbers, usually by workshops in which ten to fifteen potters worked simultaneously. A stamp on the floor of the vessel reads 'OFF(icina) BASSI (et) COELI' ('from the workshop of Bassus and Coelus').

    The vessel is part of the tradition of red slip ware or terra sigillata ('stamped clay') pottery, a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean in the Roman period. Terra sigillata pottery production in Gaul began at Lyons early in the first century AD, probably via Italian potters such as the Atei and the Rasini from Pisa and Arezzo in Tuscany. Originally both the craftsmen and the moulds seem to have been imported, but a decade later large-scale production began further south at La Graufesenque, using distinctive forms and decorative motifs.

    This particular shape is known as a Dragendorff form 29, after the German scholar who made the first systematic numbering of Italian and Gaulish terra sigillata pottery in the 1890s.

    H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Roman pottery (London, 1908)

    P. Roberts, 'Mass-production of Roman fine wares' in Pottery in the making: world-5 (London. The British Museum Press, 1997), pp. 188-93

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