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Terra sigillata


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Art & Architecture Thesaurus

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Terra sigillata

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Refers a style of fine pottery used in Italy, Gaul, and Germany, and throughout the Roman Empire from the first century BCE to the third century CE. It developed from the traditions of ancient Greek pottery in the use of calcitic clays rich in iron compounds to produce a glossy surface, but it differs from Greek pottery in employing a single-phase firing in an open kiln. It is characterized by its red color, smooth finish, and sometimes by decorations of stamped figures or patterns. The term was coined in the ninteenth century, and historically there has been disagreement regarding to which pottery it applies, stemming from various interpretations of the term as either "stamped earth," with reference to the stamped designs, or "sealed earth" with reference to an astringent, fatty, medicinal bole called "terra sigillata," from the island of Lemnos, that was thought to be the clay from which the pottery was made. Further confusion has surrounded the relationship of this term and "Samian ware" or "Samian."

Variations

terra sigillata ware

Samian ware

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