Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Central Gaulish terra sigillata

Terra sigillata manufacture commenced in Central Gaul from the Augustan period and during the 1st century AD the distinctive micaceous products of Lezoux are distributed across central and western Gaul, and occasionally to southern Britain. The height of the industry was during the 2nd century AD. when the products of Les Martres-de-Veyre and Lezoux (Puy-de-Dôme/FR) had a wide distribution across Gaul, Germany, Britain and the Danube provinces.

Introduction

The two principal Central Gaulish sigillata producers, Les Martres-de-Veyre and Lezoux (near Clermont-Ferrand) were the main samian exporters to Britain for most of the 2nd cent. The earlier product of Lezoux, in a distinctive micaceous fabric, was also exported in small quantities.

Fabric and technology

Les Martres-de-Veyre: Very hard, high fired fabric (sherds ring when knocked together) with conchoidal fracture; bright orange-red or red (2.5YR 5/6) with ‘satin’ gloss slip (2.5YR 4/6) on all surfaces, sometimes marred with finger marks and other blemishes near rim and base; abundant very fine limestone flecks (visible under x20 lens), with sparser red iron ore, quartz and a little mica.

Micaceous Lezoux ware: Slightly laminar fracture, often with numerous horizontal voids; reddish-yellow (5YR 5/6 to 5YR 6/3) with porous red or reddish-brown slip (e.g 2.5YR 3/6 or 5/6) which may appear thin; distinctive abundant fine mica, with some fine quartz sand, red iron ores and rounded limestone particles. Plain wares normally fairly hard fired, but decorated ware tends to be softer with flaking slip – Dannell’s description as ‘mica filled digestive biscuit’ (1977, 231) is particularly apt.

Standard Lezoux fabric: Hard fabric with finely irregular fracture; brown or orange-brown (2.5YR 4/8 or 4/6) matrix and relatively dull slip; some fine mica visible in matrix (but significantly less than in the earlier fabric), with fine quartz sand, sparse limestone and red iron ores.

Chronology

Production at Lezoux commences in Augustan-Tiberian period and micaceous Lezoux fabric exported to Britain between c. AD 50-120; main phase of production from c. AD 120 until later 2nd cent. Significant export from Les Martres-de-Veyre almost confined to AD 100-25, with exception of potter Cettus (c. AD 135-65).

Distribution

Early Lezoux wares are common in 1st cent. AD assemblages along the Loire and in Brittany; thence to Britain, where more common in south and west (Boon 1967; Dannell in Peacock 1971, 266-7). Martres and later Lezoux wares have wide distribution through northern and eastern Gaul, the Rhineland, and into Danube provinces; in Britain, abundant throughout (Hartley 1972, 28).

Aliases

Colchester fabric CG/LZ. JRPS bibliography fabric cts. Milton Keynes fabric . Kent fine fabric 3d. Silchester fabric E4.

Bibliography

Bémont and Jacob 1986, 137-64, with refs. Lezoux production summarized in: Bet et al. 1987; for decorated wares: Stanfield and Simpson 1958 revised as Stanfield and Simpson 1990; Terrisse 1968; Rogers 1974;, for figure types: Déchelette 1904; Oswald 1936; for dating of major potters, particularly Cinnamus: Hartley 1972; Simpson and Rogers 1969; for an alternative view see King 1981.

References

Bémont and Jacob 1986. Bémont, C. and Jacob, J.-P., La Terre sigillée gallo-romaine. Lieux de production du Haut Empire: implantations, produits, relations, Documents d’archéologie française, 6, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, (1986).

Bet et al. 1987. Bet, P., Gangloff, R. and Vertet, H., Les productions céramiques antiques de Lezoux et de la Gaule centrale à travers les collections du Musée archéologique de Lezoux (63), Revue archéologique SITES. Hors-série, 32, (1987).

Boon 1967. Boon, G. C., ‘Micaceous sigillata from Lezoux at Silchester, Caerleon and other sites’, AntJ, 47, (1967), pp. 27-42.

Dannell 1977. Dannell, G. B., ‘The samian from Bagendon’ in Roman pottery studies in Britain and beyond Papers presented to J. P. Gillam, July 1977, ed. J. Dore and K. T. Greene, British archaeological reports. International series, 30, BAR, Oxford, (1977), pp. 229-35.

Déchelette 1904. Déchelette, J., Les vases céramiques ornés de la Gaule romaine, Paris, (1904).

Hartley 1972. Hartley, B. R., ‘The Roman occupation of Scotland. The evidence of samian ware’, Britannia, 3, (1972), pp. 1-55.

King 1981. King, A., ‘The decline of samian manufacture in the north-west provinces: problems of chronology and interpretation’ in The Roman West in the third century. Contributions from archaeology and history, ed. A. King and M. Henig, British archaeological reports. International series, 109, BAR, Oxford, (1981), pp. 55-78.

Oswald 1936. Oswald, F., Index of figure-types on terra sigillata, University Press, Liverpool, (1936-7).

Peacock 1971. Peacock, D. P. S., ‘Petrography of certain coarse pottery’ in Excavations at Fishbourne, 1961-69, ed. B. Cunliffe, 27, Reports of the research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, London, (1971), pp. 255-259.

Rogers 1974. Rogers, G. B., Poteries sigillées de la Gaule centrale, Supplément à Gallia, 28, Éditions du CNRS, Paris, (1974).

Simpson and Rogers 1969. Simpson, G. and Rogers, G., ‘Cinnamus de Lezoux et quelques potiers contemporains’, Gallia, 27, (1969), pp. 3-14.

Stanfield and Simpson 1958. Stanfield, J. A. and Simpson, G., Central Gaulish Potters, Oxford University Press, London, (1958).

Stanfield and Simpson 1990. Stanfield, J. A. and Simpson, G., Les potiers de la Gaule centrale, Revue Archéologie Sites, Gonfaron, (1990).

Terrisse 1968. Terrisse, J. R., Les Céramiques sigillées gallo-romaines des Martres-de-Veyre (Puy-de-Dome), Supplément à Gallia, 19, Éditions du CNRS, Paris, (1968).

Distribution of Central Gaulish terra sigillata in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: CGTS (p.113)
Terra sigillata forms and kiln sites
  • Database of the principal terra sigillata forms.
  • Map of the principal terra sigillata kiln sites
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: LMV SA (Les Martres-de-Veyre samian, p.30).
  • Fabric code: LEZ SA 1 (Lezoux (1st century) samian, p.31).
  • Fabric code: LEZ SA 2 (Lezoux samian 1, p.32).
Thumbnail images
Worcestershire ceramics online database
(Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service)
  • Fabric no. 43.2 (Central Gaulish samian ware (Lezoux))
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
Felix Oswald Database: sigillata fabric images
(Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution - further images available through the link above). Due to the (automatic) use of cookies on this site the direct link to the page of fabric images above might fail, but can be accessed if the link to the database search page is visited first.
La céramique romaine en Gaule du Nord
(Brulet, Vilvorder and Delage 2010)
  • LA SIGILLÉE DE LEZOUX (TS-LX) (p.95)
  • Sigillée de Lezoux, fabrique 1 (TS-LX1) (p.108)
  • Sigillée de Lezoux, fabrique 2 (TS-LX2) (p.111)
  • Sigillée de Lezoux, fabrique 3 (TS-LX3) (p.115)
  • Sigillée de Lezoux, fabrique 4 (TS-LX4) (p.120)
  • LA SIGILLÉE DES MARTRES-DE-VEYRE (TS-MV) (p.125)
  • LA SIGILLÉE DE LA VALLÉE DE L'ALLIER (TS-AL) (p.130)
Images and text not available on-line. See also the listings of International Fabrics Reference Collection for Roman Ceramics at Louvain (text in French).
Museum of London ceramics catalogue
(Museum of London) Catalogue includes some images, but may include vessels of other types.
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/CGTS • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.