Talk:Terra sigillata

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Old query[edit]

Is there any differense between Terra sigillata and Samian ware or are they same? 10:54, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Samian ware is TS, but so is Arretine ware & other "red glossed" types. Johnbod (talk) 13:15, 25 January 2009 (UTC)


The terminology is a NIGHTMARE. This is reflected in the para. in the article dealing with the archaeological material. The term 'samian ware' is used solely in English-language sources and means the red-gloss wares — or terra sigillata — manufactured in Gaul (Central and Southern France and the Rhineland, in modern terms), which has a surprisingly wide trading distribution in the late 1st century. South Gaulish samian is sometimes found in the North African provinces, and as far east as Turkey. The label 'samian' has nothing much to do with the island of Samos (long story), and the approved practice is to use a lower-case 's', on the analogy of 'china'. In German and French, however, samian ware is called, respectively, terra sigillata and terre sigillée. Arretine ware, manufactured in Italy, is also called terra sigillata, and indeed is the original pottery type to which that name was applied by antiquarians. As the text of the article observes, archaeologists do not use the term for ARS (African Red-Slip Wares), which are technologically very similar. Equivalent wares in the Eastern Empire are generally labelled 'Eastern Sigillata' with an additional modifier ('Eastern Sigillata A' etc.) for region and date. The issue of plain and decorated is one of the problems: the word 'sigillata' implies stamped decoration, but of course Arretine, Gaulish samian, some Eastern sigillatas, and ARS were all made in both plain and decorated forms. It is absolutely archaeologically correct to refer to a South Gaulish Dragendorff 18 or a Central Gaulish Drag.33 as 'samian ware' if you are writing in English and 'terra sigillata' if you are writing in German: both are completely plain, undecorated vessels. Even 'red-gloss ware' is not an ideal term, since some of the regional types do not have the characteristically glossy slip of the Italian and Gaulish products, almost certainly because of different clay sources. Some clays produce better glossy slips than others. And of course, some glossy-slipped Roman fine ware, including some samian vessels, were deliberately reduced in the kilm to create a black surface. AgTigress (talk) 13:05, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I found this puzzling! It might be best to have a seperate section on "Definition of the term". Please feel free to edit as seems best. Johnbod (talk) 13:11, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, okay. But I gave up specialist samian studies decades ago, and this brings it all back! Argh!  ;-) AgTigress (talk) 13:14, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Oh, damn. I don't understand how to deal with edit conflicts, and I have probably lost much of what I added. AgTigress (talk) 15:42, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, did you? Sometimes you have to just cut bits from the edit conflict page & open a new window with the article & paste them into that. I thought you might be alarmed by this version - just caused by closing a ref with ) not >. Johnbod (talk) 15:52, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

It's okay. I didn't lose much. I discovered that I couldn't put in references unless they were already listed, which I don't know how to do, so I was changing my Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). tags to ordinary brackets, in the hope that some kind person, like you, would sort it out, and things got a bit fraught!  :-) AgTigress (talk) 16:10, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

It should be underlined that the term "terra sigillata" is modern, not ancient. It was introduced in several countries including Denmark only in 17th century (see Annette Rathje,Marjatta Nielsen,Bodil Bundgaard Rasmussen, Pots for the living, pots for the dead, p. 186). It was broadly introduced in modern literature by Dragendorff or Oxe (by the end of 19th cent.). In ancient Latin "sigilla" meant "small figures", but it should be remembered that it is a diminutive from "signum" (mark). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kleo73 (talkcontribs) 12:28, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Firing temperatures[edit]

It would be useful if the contributor who wrote the sections on modern so-called TS were actually to stipulate exactly what temperature-range he/she means by 'low-fired'. I think of that as meaning about 500°–800°C, but I'm an archaeologist, and maybe modern potters mean something quite different. The temperatures used for ancient Italian/Gaulish TS were about 850–1050°C, with the Gaulish products at the upper end of that range. The kilns were wood-fired updraught kilns. (see Roberts in Freestone & Gaimster 1997, p.191). AgTigress (talk) 16:35, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Just noticed that 900°C is mentioned, with the comment that higher temperatures tend to remove the glossy effect. Hmm. Terra sigillata, as a term, obviously has a curse on it.  :) AgTigress (talk) 16:54, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

English dialect[edit]

I have noticed that the sections on the modern definition are in American English rather than British English (e.g. 'luster' rather than 'lustre'). Does this mean that American spelling should be used throughout? AgTigress (talk) 19:45, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, there should be consistency. Per WP:ENGVAR the situation is rather complicated. The first editor was American, but did not use any US-specific English. After the "modern" stuff was added by another US editor, the article was still a stub. Since it has been expanded considerably by 2 UK editors (you & me), and there is an argument that ancient TS has "strong national ties" to the UK - ie it is found here but not in the US, Australia etc - I think we can go all-UK. I'll change what I spot. Johnbod (talk) 23:19, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

I do think that BE is slightly more appropriate than AE in this case, though I don't have strong feelings. It is true that there has been one really major scholar of Italian sigillata (Arretine) from the USA, the late Howard Comfort (though as a cricket-playing Pennsylvania Quaker, Howard was rather an Anglophile), but work on Gaulish samian ware in English has been written almost exclusively in BE. Some of the most important work on that class of TS has been in French and German rather than English. I leave it to your judgement, as an experienced Wikipedian.  :-) AgTigress (talk) 19:08, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

I only spotted one "luster" and one "color" I think, which I've changed. Johnbod (talk) 19:16, 19 August 2010 (UTC)


What about the "snarky dialect"? Every reference to the modern usage of the term by studio potters has been re-edited with diminutives and dismissals. "Terra Sig" "so-called" Really? Shame. If you are unfamiliar with the use of TS as a modern potters term, why would you re-write that section? Hands off. It makes you look like an idiot.

If you don't like that others are using your "academic" term, move the usage by studio potters into a separate section or into a separate article. Don't try to edit away its validity just because you are not familiar with it. - Thank You, an Academic Potter — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Change of heading[edit]

I have changed the title of the section called 'History' to make clearer the difference between the historical and archaeological definitions and the one used by modern potters. AgTigress (talk) 11:26, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

I am planning to do a fairly major edit of the main section soon, that is, the one meaning Roman red-gloss wares, with sub-sections on forerunners of Roman TS, Arretine/Italian wares, Gaulish samian, ARS and eastern sigillatas, history of the study of these wares, and their archaeological importance. I think it will be necessary to change the headings hierarchy so that the 'Roman red-gloss pottery' meaning becomes a main heading. AgTigress (talk) 09:38, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it's a bit fiddly, with the various disparate sections. Perhaps just drop the "Historical and archaeological definitions" header, have the short medicinal section first on grounds of age (if that sense is older), & then on to the Roman pottery. The lead has already introduced all three. Johnbod (talk) 11:51, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll try out various things when I have decided what to include. :) AgTigress (talk) 19:05, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I have altered the headings, and will eventually divide the main section, on Roman pottery, into sub-sections. AgTigress (talk) 16:37, 27 August 2010 (UTC)


I have started to expand the bibliography, as I can't really expand the main text till I have written the basics under all the headings (Forerunners, Arretine, South Gaul, Central Gaul, East Gaul, African Red Slip, Eastern sigillata). In case anyone should raise the issue, citing essential references in French and German is unavoidable for this subject, as for so many relating to the Roman Empire. AgTigress (talk) 15:47, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

German Wikipedia article on TS[edit]

There is a very nice little article on TS on German Wikipedia (dealing only with the main, Roman meaning), , and I shall be following a rather similar layout in this one, though I'd rather write my own than just translate the German one. However, there is an illustration of an Arretine Dragendorff 11 from Novaesium there that I would dearly like to use, but I can't get the link to work -- something to do with its copyright classification, I think. This is it: I'll have to take my own photo, I suppose. AgTigress (talk) 15:53, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it's not on Commons, only on German WP. My German isn't up to the copyright notice, but he only took in May 2010, & may be willing to upload it to Commons - ask him at [1] - I dare say English will be understood. Johnbod (talk) 00:37, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll try that. My ordinary speaking/reading German is okay, but I couldn't quite understand the copyright details either. But then, I often don't really understand things like that even in English. AgTigress (talk) 10:46, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I contacted Hartmann Linge as you suggested, and he has uploaded the pic to Commons straight away! Very kind of him. I have put it in at the head of the section for now, and it will probably stay there even though I'll move other pics, as it's a fine, typical Arretine vessel. By the way, I have started putting my new text on my 'sandbox' thingy, but I still have masses to write.  :) AgTigress (talk) 11:28, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Temporary mini-gallery[edit]

I have started putting in some pictures to liven this up, but in due course, some of them will need to go into the text at a larger size: this is just a temporary measure. AgTigress (talk) 16:18, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

More work needed on 'modern' section[edit]

It would be helpful if the original editor or someone else who understands the curious usage of the term Terra Sigillata in modern studio pottery were to explain it a little more fully. There are sentences both in the lead and in the section on the modern material that are wholly unclear to me: it seems that TS is used to refer specifically to the slip, not to the ware as a whole, which is totally different from the archaeological definition.

And what does this sentence mean: 'Traditionally, terra sigillata was only used on low-fired earthenware'? Traditionally when? In the Roman period (when the firing temperature of sigillata, around 1000°C, was in the higher range achieved in the wood-fired kilns), or whenever modern potters started using these fine slips (and when was that)? What temperature is actually meant by 'low-fired'? I have added a sentence emphasising that the slip of ancient TS is not burnished before firing. I have also pointed out that there are modern potters who make replica Roman TS, using the Roman methods (that is, the traditional ones!), and that their products should not be confused with this other modern meaning. AgTigress (talk) 23:47, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod, how does one insert those snarky little queries in blue, like 'citation needed'? With the modern pottery section, it isn't so much citations as just more explanation that would be helpful. AgTigress (talk) 11:16, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

To add a superscript note saying "citation needed", just put {{citation needed}} (with the double curly brackets) at the point where you want the note to appear. However, when you're actively working on an article I think it's usually best not to do that, because if the editor who added that text is not around, you may find there is no response to that note for months or years. I'd suggest that you raise the points on talk page (as you have done), and if there's no response, and no editor who is working on the page can come up with anything in support of the material in question, then just delete it, with a note on the talk page saying why. It's worth having a search of Google books to see if anything can be found to support any text you delete, but in a situation like this, where you're an expert on the topic, I'd just go ahead and write the article as you see fit, and work with whichever editors show up to help. Mike Christie (talk) 12:22, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Or {{fact}} produces the same result. Johnbod (talk) 12:36, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for that. I'll leave it for now, and maybe someone who knows about the modern usage will wander along some time. I know about the Roman stuff, but not about modern studio pottery!  :) AgTigress (talk) 12:27, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I've left a query at his talk page, though he's an ISP (no name, just a number). I'd certainly remove 'Traditionally, terra sigillata was only used on low-fired earthenware' - more your area of expertise than his. Johnbod (talk) 12:36, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I've done that. :) AgTigress (talk) 14:11, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Expanded sections begun[edit]

I have now put in the first two sections of my sub-headings. This makes it look a bit unbalanced at the moment: five regional subdivisions to come, and I know practically zilch about one of them (Eastern sigillatas). Does it look all right? Anything that is against WP guidelines? I must try to photograh a Megarian bowl if we have a nice one on display. AgTigress (talk) 14:14, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

South Gaulish section now added. It could be a lot more detailed, but I will probably add to it later. Better to get the basics of the other sections in first. Need to take more pics... AgTigress (talk) 22:31, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I have a couple of sub-sections still to do at this point. I don't know if I ought to do a short section on manufacturing techniques, kilns, firing etc. They are alluded to throughout, but some aspects are difficult to describe without diagrams, and all the good diagrams I know would have copyright problems. AgTigress (talk) 23:07, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Great stuff! I've brought Dragendorff into the main text, as his numbers are being used. Which of the many La Madeleines was the potting one? Johnbod (talk) 11:14, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

The samian La Madeleine is near Nancy. I wish one could use Paul Tyers's excellent map. I tried to get into the 'Potsherd' site yesterday, but it was down — I assume the same map is there as is in the printed book, and one might be able to give a direct link to the page. I had forgotten I hadn't mentioned Dragendorff, probably because I did in the 'Roman Pottery' article. AgTigress (talk) 12:36, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Here it is: Just south of Nancy, in Lorraine. The Departement is called Meurthe-et-Moselle. AgTigress (talk) 12:46, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Actually Paul has used a different map, in pretty colours, on the website, with links to more detailed maps of each area. But it would be good to get a direct link in somewhere to this page: because it has both the general map of the Gaulish sites and also a group of the main forms. Not sure where would be best to add the reference to it. I am still agonising over eastern sigillatas and ARS. AgTigress (talk) 12:52, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Now part of Laneuveville-devant-Nancy, on which we have a one-line stub. Not sure it's worth linking. Johnbod (talk) 13:23, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Probably not, as La Madeleine ware is a pretty specialist subject anyway. AgTigress (talk) 14:28, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Still outstanding[edit]

I have done the basic text now. I could add a lot to the Gaulish sections, and others might be able to add to the Eastern /ARS sections, but I think I have the most important stuff down. More pictures would be a good idea, and I'll try to get some. At some point, I may tackle the kilns / manufacturing techniques question. AgTigress (talk) 18:59, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

I just need to add a few sentences and a picture about kilns and an additional reference, and I think I am done. I have decided I can't do a section on manufacturing without a lot of drawings and diagrams, and because of copyright, I'd have to draw them myself, so I am just going to put in my own photo of the grand four at La Graufesenque and say something about it. AgTigress (talk) 16:32, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

More splendid work! This one would qualify for WP:DYK on the main page, as a expansion (AR pottery had already been on, and you can't do it twice). Shall I nominate it? We need (no hurry) to tidy up around the other separate articles on particular phases etc, that have now mostly less detail & quality than here: African red slip, Samian ware, Arretine ware. Also Ancient Roman oil lamp from the AR pottery article. The choices are (and we need not treat all the same way):
  1. We simply redirect the term to the relevant section here, checking if they have anything worth adding here. They then cease to be visible, unless you look at the history.
  2. We expand them with material from here, which is ok, so long as the provenance is noted (& ideally linked) in the edit summary.

Any thoughts? Apart from the oil lamps, they all appear to have some useful extra info, so maybe #2?

Other things: - should we set up Red glossed wares and similar terms (Roman red-glossed pottery etc etc), & redirect them here? In fact if you do a WP search this & AR pottery usually come first anyway, but it will help people find the articles on a google search (I think). On the Potsherd map, there are a number of ways of doing this - just link it in a ref, set it up as a ref, put in a separate link in External links, & refer to that in the notes, and so on. Any preference? Johnbod (talk) 20:51, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I'll be guided by you on this, Johnbod. I don't really have strong feelings. I think this article is reasonably full and well-balanced now: the things that require more information I can't really do, because of illustration problems in the case of technical details, and my ignorance in the case of the Eastern Empire material.

I haven't actually looked at some of those links: I could probably expand the Roman Lamps one fairly easily if it's on the thin side. I'll have a look. AgTigress (talk) 22:16, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Just looked at the 'Ancient Roman oil lamp' (what a weird title). Good heavens, yes. It needs a LOT of work!  :) AgTigress (talk) 22:19, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Well at this stage it might be easier, and no great loss, just to redirect it to the AR pottery section. On a very cursory look, I thought African Red Slip might be kept with your sections added & a little marrying up. Samian & arretine I'm not so sure about - there is more here and less there, so redirects might be better. But I'll look more closely - everything is reversible anyway. Mike, any thoughts? Johnbod (talk) 22:43, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I just looked at oil lamp, which I thought would have been full of C19 whale-oil/paraffin ones, but it's all ancient. A quick whizz through that - it has a rather odd structure - might help. I'll link it back to the section in AR pottery. Johnbod (talk) 22:51, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I've found some AR ceramic kiln shots from Catalonia [2]. Do you know if these ones at Abia de las Torres are for ceramics? [3] Johnbod (talk) 00:40, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure about those kilns; I wonder if they are tile-kilns? They might be for TS hispanica, but I'm not sure about that, either, so I am not keen on using any of them. The problem about doing any detail on firing or other aspects of manufacture is that one needs plans and sections to explain things.

The various other articles: the general 'oil lamp' one is okay as far as it goes on the Roman ones. If one expanded the article devoted to the Roman oil lamp, one would need to add things like explanation of the parts of the lamp (though they have chosen a poorish example to label!) and the very broad typology. But I think that that article, which is really a history of artificial lighting, is too general for anyone interested specifically in the Graeco-Roman period. The African Red Slip article is fine, with the right references and clear descriptions. It mostly needs some pictures. I think cross-linking both with 'Ancient Roman pottery' and 'Terra Sigillata' would be enough. AgTigress (talk) 09:11, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

The present 'samian ware' article is not a great deal of use, really. Discussion of the origin of the term 'samian ware' is something that tells one nothing about the material; it is not much more than an interesting digression. If it is to be discussed, there's more to say, which involves some interesting stuff about the history of antiquarianism -- the urge to try to marry up ancient references, in this case, samia vasa, with surviving objects. This is why, in the 19th century, one had all those names for pot-shapes, paralleling the Greek-vase terminology, like olla, crater, cantharus and lanx; many of them have now been effectively abandoned in Roman pottery studies. At least, nobody would speak, now, of an olla.  :) AgTigress (talk) 09:27, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

  • Ancient Roman oil lamp now redirects to trhe lamps section of Ancient Roman pottery, and I have done a quick merge of much of your ARS text there and here to African Red Slip, and added the 2 pics, that are all I can identify as ARS. I'll look at the other two again. Johnbod (talk) 17:52, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
Just to note that Africa (Roman province) has a long section on pottery, which I have edited a bit & linked up, also copying a sentence on production centres to the ARS article. Johnbod (talk) 18:23, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Samian ware[edit]

I'm redirecting this here, as the coverage is much better, but this paragraph contains material we don't yet have, so I'm giving it here for future reference:

Samian has nothing to do with the island of Samos but was once thought to have originated there, and the name has stuck, at least in British usage. It may also be derived from the Latin verb samiare, to polish. It can be identified from its pinkish or orange fabric and a distinctive smooth red surface created by dipping the unfired pot in slip before putting it in the kiln. The specific technology varied but the main idea was to have a slip that melted or sintered at a lower temperature than the body of the pot. One way of achieving this was to use potassium carbonate from wood ash to act as a flux. Some sigillatas therefore have a higher percentage of potassium in the shiny surface material than in the body of the pot (Mirti et al. 1999). It was produced in industrial quantities and archaeological evidence implies that it was still in heavy demand as examples showing signs of repair as well as shoddy imitation pseudo-Samian types have been excavated.

(Ref is: * P.Mirti, L.Appolonia & A.Casoli 1999 Technological features of Roman Terra Sigillate from Gallic and Italian centres of production Journal of Archaeological Science vol. 26 pp1427–35) Johnbod (talk) 17:59, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

  • I've also redirected Arretine ware, copying into the article here the short para on medieval appreciation of it. Johnbod (talk) 18:08, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

The additional sentence in the Arretine section is very useful -- although one blithely says that Arretine was admired since the Renaissance (or even earlier), and indeed, I always do say that -- I didn't have a proper referebce. So thanks!  :)

The para. from the 'samian' article is a bit of a curate's egg, because, although what we call samian has nothing to do with Samos, the term in antiquity might orginally have been connected with the island, and might have become a term indicating 'desirable pottery'. Samia vasa are mentioned in ancient sources, but we don't know what they were. We speak of 'china' wares today, and bone china is specifically a British invention, but its history is, indeed, connected with China, because it arose from attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain. I think the question of terminology is too uncertain and too contentious to go into in detail here, but if anyone wanted to do so, it would have to be a separate section. I think Tony King's work on it all is still authoritative, but I haven't read it for ages.

On the issue of the probable addition of wood-ash to the slip, yes: this has long been known, since Mavis Bimson's paper in Antiquaries Journal 36 (1956), in fact. I have shied away from the technical details, because chemistry is not my thing, but it is useful to know that quite recent work has confirmed her findings yet again. There is a lot of work on the composition and technology of sigillata clays, both in French and English, by M.Picon: in English, he and his team had papers in the journal Archaeometry in the 1970s. AgTigress (talk) 21:00, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that's rather what I suspected, so I just left it here on talk. Johnbod (talk) 21:03, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Comments by DYK reviewer[edit]

As a layman, I noticed the following opportunities for improvement after reading this very good article:

  • The article presupposes considerable erudition on the part of the reader. Explaining or wikilinking some of the jargon, such as in phrases like "with rouletted or stamped decoration, and closed forms such as tall ovoid flagons with appliqué ornament" would probably make the article more accessible. (See WP:MOS#Clarity, WP:MOS#Technical language)
  • The quotation from Boardman, pp. 276-77, is difficult to recognize as such because of the image position; consider using {{Cquote}} or a similar template with quotation marks.
  • Immediately after that quotation, we say "whereas Anthony King's definition, quite rightly, does not insist..." Who says that King is right? (See WP:NPOV).
  • What does "samian ware" actually mean, if anything?
  • The gallery at the end might need work to comply with WP:IG: "Images in a gallery should be suitably captioned to explain their relevance both to the article subject and to the theme of the gallery, and the gallery should be appropriately titled (unless the theme of the gallery is clear from the context of the article). Images in a gallery should be carefully selected, avoiding similar or repetitive images, unless a point of contrast or comparison is being made."

Regards,  Sandstein  08:09, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for those comments. I am a rather new and inexperienced contributor, so I wrote this in my usual style, which may not always be appropriate for WP.

The comment on Anthony King's definition is not actually just my personal opinion, but I can see that it could be read that way: the point is that he is defining the terms more as they are usually used by archaeologists, and Sir John (who in spite of his immense erudition, is more of a Greek than a Roman specialist) is not. I am sure that I can find a slightly different form of words.

Defining rouletting, stamped decoration, and worse still, the history of the word samian: the problem here, and it is a huge one, is that dealing adequately with these kinds of questions would alter the balance of the article fairly drastically. They all require rather a lot of words to describe them, and the technical ones desperately require diagrams, which I would have to draw myself, since all the published ones are copyright.

Rouletting is the name given to a textured surface effect created either by the use of a notched wheel stamp applied to the surface of the clay while it is still soft, or by the use of a blade-like tool held against the surface while the pot is turning, so that it 'stutters' and removes small portions of clay from the surface. Stamped decoration is created by impressing a fired-clay stamp of punch directly against the surface of the unfired clay vessel to create designs in intaglio (and I suppose I would have to define 'intaglio'? ), as opposed to using punches to impress a mould, which of course produces a pattern in relief on the final pot. I don't see any great difficulty in terms like 'closed forms' or 'ovoid flagons'. O think most people know what 'ovoid' and 'flagon' mean, and 'closed form' is surely obvious from the context, wich includes 'open' vessels like bowls and dishes, and closed ones like, well, flagon. Again, what I really need is a separate technology section, but the lack of illustrations is the stumbling block.

The possible meanings and history of the term samian, as you can see from the exchange between Johnbod and myself in the section above, is a fairly enormous can of worms. Discussing it (and the term terra sigillata) fully, with references, would certainly create a section quite as long as some of the sections on specific wares, and I think that this gives the matter undue prominence. The article is about the pottery, not about the history of archaeological nomenclature and the proper and improper use of ancient documentary sources. It's a red herring, and I seriously think that this article is not the place for it. If I absolutely have to tackle it, I would prefer to augment the description in the article by someone else called 'Samian ware', and leave a link to it here. AgTigress (talk) 09:31, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

The mini-gallery: all the illustrations refer to things mentioned in the text: (1) marbled slip; (2) the cup form Dragendorff 27; (3) Dragendorff 38, a late 2ndC form; (4) Dr.36, a Gaulish form copied in ARS as Hayes Form 2. They could be hauled up into the relevant portions of the text, if you think that would be better. I have no strong feelings either way, but they were not picked at random! AgTigress (talk) 09:35, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Sandstein, do you think I could do the definitions of things like rouletting, worded more or less as above, as footnotes? I don't know what the policy is on long, chatty footnotes, as opposed to just references. At least that would prevent the explanation from deflecting the reader right away from the main point by defining a word. AgTigress (talk) 09:49, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

I have altered the wording referring to Tony King's definition. The quotation from Boardman was put in before I started to work on this article, and I don't know how to do various quotes. I want to avoid indicating that Sir John is actually slightly wrong on this one, probably influenced by the literal meaning of terra sigillata. I suppose this would be the place to say that the history of the term samian ware is itself murky. AgTigress (talk) 10:08, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Or would it be better to have a small sub-section headed 'terminology', dealing with (a) the traditional names of the wares themselves and (b) the specialist terms like roulette/rouletted, poinçon, carinated, ovolo, acanthus etc., etc.? A kind of glossary, in fact? Is that a WP-allowed thing to do? I have actually managed to avoid most of the more arcane terms used in decribing decorated vessels, many of which are borrowings from architectural and other art-historical disciplines — once again, reflecting the history of scholarship and research on this topic. AgTigress (talk) 10:16, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi, I absolutely agree that this article should not be laden down with extensive explanations of specialist terminology. The "Wiki way" for helping the reader to understand such terms is to link such terms to an article where the appropriate explanation is (or can in the future expected to be) found, unless a term can be very briefly explained en passant.
So, if "Samian ware" would be too complicated to explain here and outside the scope of this article, you might be best advised to leave it as a red link, Samian ware, which indicates to others that there's an article to be written about this topic. (Edit: I see that "Samian ware" currently redirects to this article, which means that the person who made the redirect expects the topic to be treated here; I can't tell whether that's sensible or whether the formerly separate article about that topic ought to be restored.)
For specialist terms that do not merit an article of their own, the link should go to the place in another article where they are described, using the section link feature. This could be a separate glossary article (Glossary of pottery? See Category:Glossaries for a list of glossary articles and WP:MOSGLOSS for how to write them) or, if the number and length of definitions is manageable, a new "Terminology" section in the Pottery and/or Ancient Roman pottery article, as appropriate.
In the rare case that a specialist term is specific to a particular article (for instance, here, a term only used to describe some feature of terra sigillata, but not other pottery), it should be described in the article itself, either in a "terminology" section or using footnotes.  Sandstein  11:43, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
A few quick comments - we just merged the old Samian ware here because (see talk) it had less detail than this! The term is still commonly encountered, and the article explains (as the old one did) the difficulties with its definition, which are confusing whichever way you look at it - in fact rather a common situation in art history. Some terms can probably be given useful links: appliqué etc. Acanthus (ornament) is or should be linked already. Intaglio certainly has a link, though it mainly deals with printmaking. Flagon can be linked. I'll have another look through later. The huge expansion has just been completed, and some polishing is still needed. I don't see the problem with the gallery at all; it doesn't have a title, but "the theme of the gallery is clear from the context of the article". If you have issues with the gallery, please be much more specific. Boardman was the editor, with several other contributors, though I don't think the author of each entry is identified. This article certainly has more technical language and precise expression than most WP art articles, but frankly that is a step in the right direction, as that is one of WP's great weaknesses in this area. Johnbod (talk) 12:04, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I may have been unclear: this article is certainly of a much, much higher quality than most of our art history articles, and the academic precision is most welcome. It could well be a good article or a featured article if it becomes a bit more accessible to lay readers as well.  Sandstein  12:12, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Ok, thanks! Sufficient for the day.... Johnbod (talk) 12:22, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod: I'll put a couple of definitions into footnotes later today.  :) AgTigress (talk) 13:36, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod and Sandstein: I have done a little tinkering, including a rather long footnote about the term 'samian'. Does this meet at least some of the criticisms? A lot of the specialist vocabulary in samian studies is fairly arcane, and is not shared with other types of Roman pottery studies, let alone other archaeological and art-historical topics: there are specific terms — e.g. gadroons, cordate leaves, basal wreaths, infilled scrolls, arrowhead panels, spandrels — garnered from many sources, that are really required only by somebody writing a detailed report or catalogue on an assemblage of samian. I honestly think that amount of detail would be quite out of place here. Anyone who wants to learn it needs Oswald & Pryce or Webster 1980 as a starting point. AgTigress (talk) 15:37, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Actually we have some of those, by the botanists, architects etc. Johnbod (talk) 18:05, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Ooh, I like that 'Leaf shapes' article.  :) AgTigress (talk) 18:27, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

The notes seem good to me - I'll do a short stub sometime on Roulette (art) or something, which of course involves engraving & other printmaking techniques, where I think it is already mentioned. Do any tools survive? Do we know if they used ceramic, wood or metal wheels. Never mind, I'll let you know when I've done it, for a lookover. Johnbod (talk) 13:24, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Some survive, but I haven't got references to hand. Could be fired clay (as most of the poincons were) or wood, or bone. Even metal. French scholars make a distinction between a molette and a roulette, as here: Molette on left, roulette on right. These are from the East Gaulish Argonne ware potteries, and I think may bve illustrated in Chenet 1941, of which I do not have my own copy, so I can't check now. I don't have a good detail photograph of a rouletted surface on TS, but I might be able to do one. AgTigress (talk) 16:56, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod, here is an interesting site for modern pot-making supplies including roulette wheels: (Scroll some way down the page for the roulette). I have also discovered that roulette decoration is/was used a lot on ancient West African ceramics. There is obviously quite a lot of scope for a separate article. AgTigress (talk) 17:41, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

And this! Even better modern pics.  :) AgTigress (talk) 17:47, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks! I'll get the brooches out of the way first. Johnbod (talk) 22:06, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Profile drawings[edit]

I have added three profile drawings to the mini-gallery. If anyone hates them, feel free to remove them.  :) AgTigress (talk) 14:09, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Heading for gallery[edit]

Thank you to whoever put the heading in, which I think is a good idea, separating it clearly from the 'African Red Slip' section. I have changed it slightly, because 'Roman wares' is too general, I think.  :) AgTigress (talk) 16:44, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Ok. As I said in the edit summary, it might be split into rows & moved higher up. For example one could put the 4 profiles at the end of the section mentioning Dragendorff. But I think mid-text galleries should normally just be one row. I've bumped the sizes up rather randomly - this is a difficult issue, & its impossible to please everyone. I have my preferences set at 300px, so say 150 looks tiny to me. The default is 180, & I avoid fixing the size below that except for very tall slim images (it measures the horizontal axis). But for people with small laptop screens, or big widescreen ones, the layout looks very different. But at least they can see the image!

Annoyingly, the stats-collecting has so far failed for the day the article was on the main page at DYK, as the lead item too. They may turn up - I'd guess at least it had 6-7,000 views, maybe much more. Of course the majority don't read the whole thing, as always. Johnbod (talk) 16:53, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

I will leave matters of layout to your judgement, Johnbod.  :) AgTigress (talk) 16:56, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

An IPA writes[edit]

Moved from the article: "A sintered or high fired colloidial slip can develop a glaze like surface when fired at temperatures above the earthenware range so the statement that a fusible slip loses its polish when high fired is not technically accurate" Johnbod (talk) 23:59, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Meaning of "sigillata"[edit]

The introduction claims:the meaning of 'terra sigillata' is 'clay bearing little images' (Latin sigilla). This is wrong, the sigillum does not refer to the decoration, but to the production marks of the pottery workshops that were stamped into the clay before firing, they are often found on roman glossy red slip pottery, hence the name Terra sigillata. Also, I've never read TS roughly translated as 'sealed earth, I think that something like this would be more appropriate: "terra (earth) is a common designation for pottery (which is fired earth, hence terracotta), "sigillare" means "to seal, to impress a mark on something" ("sigillum" = "seal, stamp, mark"), therefore terra sigillata could be translated as "stamped/marked earthenware " --Quinbus Flestrin (talk) 12:59, 26 July 2017 (UTC)