Ceramic workshops in the Roman world

A research project proposal

TS workshop unit at Rheinzabern
TS workshop unit at Rheinzabern
(after Hissnauer, Werkstattbereich 3. Jh. [2014])
Dear Colleagues,

Bearing in mind the many detailed comments to the post “Clay preparation units” we are delighted to present to you our idea for a research project concerning the infrastructure of the Roman ceramic workshops. The aim of this project is to study in detail the various production facilities used for the manufacture of ceramic items throughout the Empire.

Our proposition is to divide the possible research topics into three groups in accordance with the specific type of information which is to be gathered and analysed.

Chi conosce questo bollo in planta pedis

Planta pedis stamp on TS from Tremona
Planta pedis stamp on TS from Tremona-Castello

Durante la scorsa campagna di scavo sul sito multiperiodico di Tremona-Castello (Canton Ticino, Svizzera) sono stati rivenuti frammenti pertinenti a un piatto purtroppo mancante dell’ orlo.

TS from Tremona with planta pedis stamp - Profile
TS from Tremona-Castello with planta pedis stamp – Profile

Il contesto di ritrovamento non è finora databile con precisione, ma potrebbe essere posteriore all’ epoca romana. Si tratta molto probabilmente di una produzione padana, di cui non si conserva neppure il rivestimento.

TS with Planta pedis from Tremona
TS with Planta pedis from Tremona-Castello

Il bollo risulta di difficile lettura e per esso non mi è stato possibile trovare alcun parallelo.

Lo sottopongo all’ attenzione dei colleghi, sperando che qualcuno possa fornirmi qualche informazione in merito.

Christiane De Micheli Schulthess

Zur Abfolge der ersten Dekorationsserien der Reliefsigillata-Töpfer in Rheinzabern

Mit 3 Beilagen (A – C)

Von Friedrich-Karl Bittner


Ricken 1942, Taf. 10,6
Ricken 1942, Taf. 10,6


Based on various criteria (especially the use and sequence of the ovolos, regarded as a control function within the manufactory), F.-K. Bittner tries to rearrange the sequence of the decoration series within the Rheinzabern mould-made sigillata, unfortunately presented by Heinrich Ricken without justification. Bittner divides the production in Rheinzabern into potter’s generations, of which the first two are treated here. In the center of the interest are the positions of Cobnertus I and III and Reginus I. The attached lists of figure types facilitate the traceability of Bittner’s proposals.

 Auf Grund verschiedener Kriterien (besonders der Verwendung und Abfolge der Eierstäbe, die als Kontrollfunktion innerhalb der Manufakturen angesehen werden) versucht F.-K. Bittner eine Neuordnung der von H. Ricken leider ohne Begründung vorgelegten Abfolge der Dekorationsserien der Reliefsigillata-Töpfer in Rheinzabern. Bittner teilt die Produktion in Rheinzabern in Töpfergenerationen ein, von welchen hier die ersten beiden behandelt werden. Im Zentrum des Interesses stehen die Positionen von Cobnertus I und III und Reginus I. Die beigefügten Punzenlisten erleichtern die Nachvollziehbarkeit der Vorschläge Bittners.

Clay preparation units

Rheinzabern 1975-77. Pit with clay ready for use.
Rheinzabern 1975-77. Pit with clay ready for use.

Dear Colleagues,

I am working on a topic, related to the clay preparation in the Roman period. I am trying to collect evidence for the different facilities in use during this process and the proofs of their presence in the ceramic workshops. I found some basic information in Peacock’s work on Roman pottery (Peacock 1982), and data for excavated structures in for example Pergamon, Sagalassos, Rheinzabern (see Poblome et al. 2001, Reutti 1983) etc. Unfortunately, I was unable to find publications with more specific information for the general layout of these facilities in the ceramic workshops and the exact way they were used. My goal is to find the differences in the layout and operation of the structures, used for clay settling, levigation, sedimentation and any other process related to the preparation of the raw material, together with the distinctive traces they leave in the archaeological record. I would be gratefull if someone could help me with bibliographical references or personal experience in this matter.

Best regards,
A. Harizanov


Peacock 1982: D. P. S. Peacock. Pottery in the Roman World: an ethnoarchaeological approach. – Longman, London, 1982.
Poblome et al. 2001: J. Poblome, O. Bounegtru, P. Degryse, W. Viaene, M. Waelkens, S. Erdemgil. The sigillata manufactories of Pergamon and Sagalassos. – JRA, 14, 2001, 143-166.
Reutti 1983: F. Reutti. Tonverarbeitende Industrie im römischen Rheinzabern. – In: Germania, 61, 1. Halbband, 1983, 33-69

Parallel of a kiln construction

Kilns near Montana, Bulgaria
Kilns near Montana, Bulgaria

Dear Colleаgues,

I am looking for a parallel of this kiln construction, excavated in the territory of Bulgaria. The structure was discovered in a Roman villa rustica, dated to the second half of the 2nd – third quarter of the 4th c. AD (Aleksandrov 1983, 72-75). The site was situated near the the modern day (and also the Roman) town of Montana (in the Roman provinces of Moesia Inferior/Dacia Mediterrranea).
The construction comprised four two-chambered structures (two with perforated and two with solid intermediate floors) connected by a long praefurnium (image – Aleksandrov 1983, p. 60). The fire was ignited into the lower chamber of the largest structure from where the hot air was transfered to the other three parts of this facility (Aleksandrov 1983, 60-61).

Tools used for the production and decoration of roman pottery

Dear colleagues,

I was wondering if someone knows and can recommend me bibliography on tools (made in various materials) that are used in the production and decoration of roman pottery which can be found in (and around) pottery workshops. I’m especially interested  in tools that were used in decorating vessels (such as tools for the making of incised decoration, and other).

Thank You in advance for Your replies!