Roman Samian bowl

Contributed by The Hunterian

In Britain this distinctive type of Roman pottery is termed 'samian', while on the Continent it is known as 'terra sigillata', which translates literally from the Latin as 'stamped earth'. This is because the bright red pottery is decorated with human, animal and floral figures as well as geometric shapes. Sometimes, as in this excellent example, the potter's name or workshop name is also impressed onto the bowl.

As indicated by the partial stamp 'CINNAM', this bowl was made by the potter Cinnamus, who is known to have been working at the Lezoux workshop in Central Gaul (France) during the 2nd Century AD. This bowl may have graced the table of a Roman officer as these types of vessel are thought to have predominantly belonged to high status individuals.

This object from the collection of the Hunterian Museum was selected by Louisa Hammersley, postgraduate student at the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow. Louisa says "I chose this object because it represents an excellent example of specialised decorated pottery from the Roman period. The inclusion of the potter's name is fascinating and one can imagine the craftsman at work on the potter's wheel."

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 12:30 on 16 July 2012, Maxy wrote:

    Glad to see Cinnamus represented here, even by badly abraded pieces from a bowl which had been reconstructed. The decoration of these bowls was moulded and the name Cinnamus represents not a craftsman at work on a potter's wheel, but the owner of what became a massive 'factory', an organisation of workshops both at Lezoux and elsewhere in Central Gaul. These moulded bowls are common finds on British sites and may reflect 'high-status' occupation in Roman Britain - but what of all those that are found on sites miles from Roman forts, towns or villas?

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