Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

decoration; and, further, that it is possible—at least as regards Gaul—to associate certain potters’ names and certain types of figures, though found in many places, with two centres in particular, Graufesenque near Rodez (department of Aveyron) in the district occupied by the Ruteni, and Lezoux near Clermont (department of Puy-de-Dôme) in the country of the Arverni. The periods during which these potteries flourished are consecutive, or rather overlapping, but not contemporaneous, the former being practically coincident with the 1st century A.D., the latter with the 2nd and 3rd down to about A.D. 260, when the manufacture of terra sigillata practically came to an end in Gaul.

EB1911 Ceramics Fig. 36.—Bowl of Gaulish ware.jpg
Fig. 36.—Bowl of Gaulish ware, with
moulded patterns in slight relief.

There were also certain smaller potteries, some of which mark a transition between the Italian and provincial wares, in the north of Italy and on the Rhine and upper Loire, e.g. St Remy-en-Rollat, and others of later date, as at Banassac and Montans in the latter district, but none of these produced pottery of special merit or importance. The early Rhenish wares are, strictly speaking, of a semi-Celtic or Teutonic character, while the later German terra sigillata, for which the principal centres were Rheinzabern near Carlsruhe and Westerndorf in Bavaria, are of similar character but inferior to the 2nd-century pottery of Lezoux. A mould from Rheinzabern is illustrated, Plate IV. fig. 66.

The ornamented vases produced in these potteries are, as we have said, almost confined to two or three varieties, which follow one another chronologically. A shape favoured at first is the krater, which has been mentioned as one of the characteristic Arretine forms; but this enjoyed but a short term of popularity. Early in the 1st century we find a typical form of bowl in use, which, following the numeration of Dr Dragendorff’s treatise, is usually spoken of as No. 29. This is characterized by its moulded rim engraved with finely incised hatchings, and by the division of the body by a moulding into two separate friezes for the designs (fig. 36). Its ornament is at first purely decorative, consisting of scrolls and wreaths, then small animals and birds are introduced, and finally figure subjects arranged in rectangular panels or circular medallions. About the middle of the century a second variety of bowl (known as No. 30; see fig. 37) was introduced; this is cylindrical in form, and, being found both at Graufesenque and Lezoux, may be regarded as transitional in character. In the latter half of this century a new form arises (No. 37; fig. 37), a more or less hemispherical bowl which holds the field exclusively on all sites down to the termination of the potteries. In this form and in No. 30 a new system of decoration is introduced, the upper edge being left quite plain. The panels and medallions at first prevail, but are then succeeded by arcading or inverted semicircles enclosing figures, and finally after the end of the 1st century (and on form 37 only) we find the whole surface covered with a single composition of figures unconfined by borders or frames of any kind, but in a continuous frieze; this is known as the “free” style (Plate IV. fig. 69).

EB1911 Ceramics Fig. 37.—Shapes used in Roman Pottery.jpg
Fig. 37.—Shapes used in Roman Pottery. 1-11, Arretine; 18-65, Gaulish and German.

As regards the figure subjects, it may be generally laid down that the conceptions are good, but the execution poor. Many are obvious imitations of well-known types or works of art, and the absence of Gaulish subjects is remarkable. They include representations of gods and heroes, warriors and gladiators, hunters and animals, the two latter classes being pre-eminently popular.

The potters’ names at Graufesenque are nearly all of a common Roman type, such as Bassus, Primus, Vitalis; those at Lezoux are Gaulish in form, such as Advocisus, Butrio, Illixo or Laxtrucisa. This seems to imply that Roman influence was still strong in the earlier centre which drew its inspiration more directly from Arretium. But even the purely Roman names are sometimes converted into Gaulish forms, as Masclus for Masculus, or Tornos for Turnus. The stamps are quadrangular in form, depressed in the surface of the vase with the letters in relief; on the plain wares they are usually in the centre of the interior, but on the ornamented vases are impressed on the exterior among the figures. The usual formula is OF (for officina) or M (for manu)