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Pottery is a key material in the dating and interpretation of archaeological sites from the Neolithic period onwards, and has been minutely studied by archaeologists for generations.In the Roman period, ceramics were produced and used in enormous quantities, and the literature on the subject, in numerous languages, is very extensive. The assemblage includes Black-burnished ware jars, a Rusticated Ware jar, a Central Gaulish Colour-Coated Ware beaker, Trier Black-slipped Ware with white trailed decoration, Nene Valley Colour Coated Ware, a coarse ware cheese press and other fine wares.These vessels have fine, fairly hard and well-fired buff to pink fabrics, with a naturally glossy surface slip ranging in colour from light orange to quite a bright red.The variations in the colour and texture of both body fabric and slip, as well as the vessel-shapes and the designs on the decorated forms can enable a trained student to identify source, date and often individual workshop quite accurately.The names of many potters and factory-owners are known from the potters' marks frequently applied to fine wares, and can be highly informative.Cnaius Ateius was an especially prominent producer at Arezzo, but wares with his stamps can be shown by modern analysis of their clay to have been produced in Pisa in Tuscany, and at branch factories at both Lyon and La Graufesenque in modern France.Arretine ware, made at Arezzo in Tuscany, was the pre-eminent type of fine pottery in the 1st century BC and early 1st century AD, and was succeeded by samian ware, manufactured in a number of centres in Gaul, modern France and Germany.

These are not normally classified under the heading 'pottery' by archaeologists, but the terracottas and lamps will be included in this article.Roman burial customs varied over time and space, so vessels deposited as grave goods, the usual source of complete ancient pottery vessels, are not always abundant, though all Roman sites produce plenty of broken potsherds."Fine" rather than luxury pottery is the main strength of Roman pottery, unlike Roman glass, which the elite often used alongside gold or silver tableware, and which could be extremely extravagant and expensive.Fine wares were serving vessels or tableware used for more formal dining, and are usually of more decorative and elegant appearance.Some of the most important of these were made at specialised pottery workshops, and were often traded over substantial distances, not only within, but also between, different provinces of the Roman Empire.

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