Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1977.216.2481
Title
Forty-seven Fragments of Arretine Pottery Decorated with Various Relief, No Signatures
Classification
Fragments
Work Type
sherd
Date
1st century BCE-1st century CE
Period
Roman Imperial period, Early
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/290362
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Terracotta
Technique
Mold-made
Dimensions
5.2 x 8.2 x 0.6 cm (2 1/16 x 3 1/4 x 1/4 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Bequest of Henry W. Haynes, 1912
Accession Year
1977
Object Number
1977.216.2481
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Descriptions
Description
Fragment 26: Triangular-shaped fragment of red Arretine pottery. This fragment comes from close to the rim of the vessel and is therefore decorated with three incised lines circling the vessel. Below the first two lines is another rim element, where there is a slightly raised horizontal register decorated with slightly slanted vertical lines approx. 0.2 cm apart running all around the vessel. Below these rim elements is another repeated pattern of raised dots, and beneath that is the repeated pattern of a modified egg-and-dart decoration. This fragment also features one leaf-shaped element that is part of the now-missing figure below.
Commentary
LIVE LIKE A ROMAN: DAILY LIFE OBJECT COLLECTION

Arretine ware is the name for fine Roman pottery that originated in Arrentium, an ancient Roman town in modern-day Tuscany. It is often called Arezzo ware for the modern name of the town. This type of pottery was coated in red slip and originated in the first century BCE. It became extremely popular in the first century CE, but eventually was surpassed by Samian ware, which was created mainly in Gaul.

Arretine vessels were most often made from molds, an example of which can be seen in this collection. Molds could be used for numerous castings until they eventually wore down or broke. Often the decoration on Arretine vessels was meant to imitate the more expensive silver vessels of the day. Instead of being mold-made, some Arretine ware was created on a wheel and decorated by hand.

Arretine ware is often confused with terra sigillata, which translates to "stamped earth." Though the definitions are very similar and often interchangeable, terra sigillata generally refers to highly decorated red gloss pottery, as opposed to red slip. The red gloss was obtained by polishing the slip until it reached silky luster, then fired at a low temperature.

[Jessica Pesce 8/2010]

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu