Potsherd: Atlas of Roman Pottery

Spanish colour-coated ware

Cups and beakers in a fine textured pale brown ware with golden-brown slip, typically decorated with floral motifs in barbotine, produced in southern Spain and widely distributed around the western Mediterranean and across the north-west provinces during the 1st century AD.

Fabric and technology

Hard fine pale brown or orange-brown (10YR 8/4) with orange-brown slip (2.5YR 6/8) with a metallic sheen. Wheel-thrown. Principal decoration is barbotine. Motifs are plant-derived (leaves, buds or ferns) or abstract (dots, lines or scales).


Cups and cylindrical beakers, sometimes with pairs of small handles.


Production may commence in the Tiberian period, but principal export is AD 40-80.


Baetica, southern Spain.


Southern Spain and Gaul, north Africa, Rhineland. Occasional in southern Britain. The Mediterranean distribution is essentially coastal and riverine.


JRPS bibliography fabric spc. Kent fine fabric 21.


Greene 1979. Mayet (1975, 147-60) discusses the ware as vases parois fins de la Btique/ and suggests that they may be equated with the Saguntum cups mentioned by Pliny and Martial (ibid., 164-9). Source region is close to that of Dressel 20 amphoras, and they were transported in the same ships (Colls et al. 1977, 111-14; Parker and Price 1981).


Colls et al. 1977. Colls, D., Étienne, R., Lequément, R., Liou, B. and Mayet, F., ‘L’pave Port-Vendres II et le Commerce de la Bétique à l’poque de Claude’, Archaeonautica, 1, (1977), pp. 1-143.

Greene 1979. Greene, K. T., The pre-Flavian fine wares, Report on the excavations at Usk, 1965-1976, 1, University of Wales Press [for] the Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales,, Cardiff:, (1979).

Mayet 1975. Mayet, F., Les céramiques à parois fines dans la peninsule iberique, Publications du Centre Pierre Paris, 1, Université de Bordeaux III, Centre Pierre Paris; diffusion, E. de Boccard, Talence; Paris, (1975).

Parker and Price 1981. Parker, A. J. and Price, J., ‘Spanish exports of the Claudian period: the significance of the Port-Vendres II wreck reconsidered’, IntJNautA, 10, (1981), pp. 221-8.

Distribution of Spanish colour-coated ware in Britain
Roman Pottery in Britain (Tyers 1996)
  • Fabric code: SPAN (p.160)
Thumbnail images (click for higher resolution):
National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(Dore & Tomber 1998, Museum of London Archaeology Service Monograph 2)
  • Fabric code: SPA CC (Spanish Colour-coated ware, p.65).
Thumbnail images
Spanish colour-coated ware
URL: http://potsherd.net/atlas/Ware/SPAN • © Text 1996, 2014: Layout 2012, 2014. Some images may be linked to other web sites.