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Notes et chroniques

A Note on Two Relief Decorated ARS Table Vessels from Dyrrachium/Durrës (Albania)

Brikena Shkodra-Rrugia
p. 187-192

Résumés

L’étude de nombreux sites de production de sigillée africaine, tout particulièrement en Tunisie centrale, a considérablement augmenté notre capacité à dater les ensembles stratifiés et à reconstruire les réseaux commerciaux à l’intérieur de la Méditerranée. Ce progrès est largement dû à la classification des pâtes, outil qui constitue l’argument central de cet article. L’analyse détaillée de deux fragments de sigillée africaine découverts à Dyrrachium/Durrës (Albanie) a révélé un élément jusqu’ici inconnu de la production de l’atelier de Djilma en Tunisie centrale.

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Texte intégral

I am very grateful to Michael Mackensen and to Michel Bonifay for their very constructive comments and suggestions on the earlier draft of this article. My thanks are also due to Philip Kenrick and to Eleni Schindler-Kaudelka for very much improving the English version of this paper and for a very detailed appraisal of this draft.

Introduction

  • 1   Mackensen 2002; 2003.

1The history of the production and trade in ARS wares has been unravelled thanks to the growing interests in fabric classification and archaeometric studies. These provide a starting point to investigate the existence of different production areas. The detailed analysis of relief or stamped decoration on ARS ware remains a very important tool towards assessing the craftwork of individual potters and workshops or of the production sites in general1.

2Two identical ARS bases from Dyrrachium provide a very important case study in terms of both their fabric characteristics and appliqué-decoration technique. The rather pure clay matrix, as seen with the naked eye, points to a central Tunisian provenance. Closer macroscopic analysis of the fabric shows marked differences from the characteristics of Sidi Marzouk Tounsi ware, the only central Tunisian production zone known to have produced appliqué-decorated sigillata. The very well defined modelling and sharp contours of the appliqués, despite the poor state of preservation, account for good craftsmanship. As such, the Dyrrachium vessels represent two intriguing fragments well worthy of analysis in closer detail.

The appliqué-decorated vessels from Dyrrachium

Fig. 1 : Appliqué-decorated bowls from Dyrrachium

Fig. 1 :             Appliqué-decorated bowls from Dyrrachium

Catalogue (fig. 1) : 1. Circular Forum 2005, Context 107, Inv. No. 10409. Large bowl fragment with broad flat base. Granular clay matrix with flaky fracture, fired red (10R-5/8), common fine white lime inclusions, moderate fine-grained quartz and red oxides, thin slip on both sides. 2. Amphitheatre 1967, Inv. No. 17607. Large bowl fragment with small ring foot. Diam. of foot 13 cm. Granular clay matrix with flaky fracture, fired red (10R-5/6), very common fine white lime eruptions, occasionally as large as 1 mm, moderate fine-grained quartz and red oxides, rare mica, thick glossy slip on both sides to below ring foot.

  • 2   The example from the amphitheatre is exhibited in Durrës Archaeological Museu (...)

3The two ARS vessel bases in question derive respectively from the excavations of 1967 conducted in the Roman amphitheatre (fig. 1.2) and of 2005 in the late Roman Circular Forum (fig. 1.1)2. Both fragments belong to open shapes, with a flat floor and low-ring foot, fully preserved in the case of the amphitheatre fragment. A typological difference consists in the wall thickness, clearly thicker (4-5 mm) in the example from the Circular Forum.

  • 3   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 174-179, 183-188.
  • 4   Thanks are due to Prof. M. Mackensen for providing me with precisely defined samples fr (...)
  • 5   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 184-185.
  • 6   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 187.

4A first glance at the fabric reveals a rather dense clay matrix with laminar fracture and easily visible white inclusions. Macroscopic analysis confirms the presence of limestone inclusions (visible as eruptions), some red inclusions, rare quartz and mica. The slip of the example found in the amphitheatre is glossy and covers uniformly the whole vessel, including the inside of the ring base. Conversely, in the case of the vessel from the Circular Forum it is thinner, though also applied to both sides of the vessel. These morphological characteristics point undoubtedly to central Tunisia as the place of origin for these vessels3. Comparison with well-defined samples from Sidi Marzouk Tounsi and Djilma4 shows that the fabric of the Dyrrachium vessels does not belong to Sidi Marzouk Tounsi with its very fine texture and clean-breaking fracture5. Based on the presence of calcareous particles, the laminar fracture and the thick lustrous slip covering both sides of the vessel, the Dyrrachium examples seem closer to the quality of ARS C1 and C2 fabric from Djilma6.

5The inner surface of both fragments beARS a carefully modeled relief decoration of the same size and style, preserving only the lower part of the represented motif (fig. 2). Although only partly preserved, on the basis of the clothing, the appliqué represents a female figure wearing a shift with visible vertical folds, horizontally overlapping below the waist. The diagonal fold of her short-sleeved outer garment remains only in part. The female figure seems to be standing with raised or half-raised arms, as no traces of hands are visible. Both appliqué examples appear to be carefully finished with well-shaped contours.

Fig. 2 : The example from the Amphitheatre (no 2)

Fig. 2 :             The example from the Amphitheatre (no 2)
  • 7   Shkodra 2006, p. 285; Hoti et alii 2008, phase IV, p. 393, fig. 12.21.

6No stratigraphical information whatsoever, either archived nor published, is available to date the fragment found in the amphitheatre. The second example, from the stratigraphy of the Circular Forum, is documented in a destruction level related to the earthquake of AD 346, which strongly affected Dyrrachium’s physical structure7.

The production of relief-decorated ARS vessels in central Tunisia

Fig. 3 : Map of ARS production sites (After: Bonifay 2004, fig. 22)

Fig. 3 :             Map of ARS production sites (After: Bonifay 2004, fig. 22)
  • 8   Lamboglia 1958.
  • 9   Atlante I, p. 53; Peacock, Bejaoui, Ben Lazreg 1990, p. 76-83; Mackensen 1993, p. 33-37; Pröttel (...)
  • 10   Peacock, Bejaoui, Ben Lazreg 1990.
  • 11   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 131, 151-155; Mackensen, Schneider 2006, respectively: p. (...)

7Since the first fabric classification system (sigillata chiara A, C and D), established in the 1950s by N. Lamboglia8, a large number of surveys, archaeometric studies and detailed stylistic analyses of the broad range of sigillata, lamps and figurative motifs have been carried out in the central Tunisia production area9, resulting in the identification of one of the most important ARS ware and lamp-production sites here (fig. 3)10. Further detailed investigations of the survey material from this area, conducted by M. Mackensen and G. Schneider, established a reference group with a very high titanium content for the central Tunisian ARS production centre at Sidi Marzouk Tounsi (starting around the mid-3rd century or perhaps earlier) and another reference group with a very high potassium and magnesium content for the slightly earlier central Tunisian potteries near Djilma (starting around 230/250)11.

  • 12   Salomonson 1968, tab. II.
  • 13   Hayes 1972, p. 214; Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 185.
  • 14   Mackensen 2003, p. 284, fig. 4; 7, tab. 2.
  • 15   Mackensen 2003, p. 285, tab. 3.
  • 16   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 131-132, fig. 5.

8The typological repertoire of the central Tunisian ARS appliqué-decorated vessels of the mid-Roman and the beginning of the late-Roman period, traced initially by a variety of closed forms and few open forms of el-Aouja ware (A/C or C1-2) types Salomonson XXIII-XXVIII12, gradually developed into the succeeding phase of appliqué-decorated ARS C3 ware, with open forms (types Hayes 51A, 52B, 53A and Hayes 54, 55, 56) with slightly thicker walls and a slip with matt appearance as opposed to the glossy slip common in the preceding phase13. The chronological link between the early appliqué-decorated el-Aouja sigillata (C1 and C2) and the early phase of ARS C3 is suggested to have taken place in the central Tunisian pottery-making centre of Sidi Marzouk Tounsi14, where it is confirmed that appliqué-decorated el-Aouja sigillata in C1 quality was produced from at least the mid-3rd century or even from the early 3rd century15. It has also been possible to get conclusive evidence for the production of appliqué-decorated C3 sigillata (Hayes 52B, 53A, 54) as well as the mould-made relief-decorated C4 forms (Hayes 56) at Sidi Marzouk Tounsi16.

  • 17   Pröttel 1996, p. 20.
  • 18   Mackensen 2002, p. 66, fig. 4.

9On the other hand, at Henchir el-Guellal near Djilma, despite the recorded evidence for fabric ARS A/D and plain ARS C1 and C2, Pröttel’s research could not identify any direct evidence for the production of appliqué-decorated sigillata here17. Chemical analyses have enhanced the importance of Djilma as a late mid-Roman production centre of ARS sigillata and lamps by assigning an appliqué-decorated lamp Salomonson I/Atlante I to its ARS output18.

Analyses and discussion

10Returning to the evidence provided by the appliqué-decorated vessels from Dyrrachium, it is possible to distinguish similarities as well as differences between the two. On the basis of the form characteristics, the large open shape with a flat base and a small ring foot as well as the very thin wall of the amphitheatre example (fig. 1.2) appeARS closer to the typological details of the types relevant to the first ARS C1 vessel forms such as Hayes 41. Conversely, the thicker wall of the vessel fragment from the Circular Forum (4-5 mm: fig. 1.1) seems rather to relate it with the succeeding ARS C3 tiny-foot bowls of Hayes type 53A. The surface treatment can add more to this provisional differentiation. The glossy slip covering the whole surface of the amphitheatre example, close to the surface treatment of ARS C1 sigillata, is slightly different from the thin slip covering both sides of the Circular Forum example. Nevertheless, the fragmentary status of both examples prevents a precise typological definition.

  • 19   Weidemann 1990, fig. 1. 10.
  • 20   Mackensen 2002, fig. 4.
  • 21   Mackensen 2002, p. 61, fig. 4; 2003, p. 282-283, fig. 8.
  • 22   Mackensen 2002, fig. 4.

11Concerning the appliqué figure decorating these vessels, both appear to have been cast from the same model, considering their identical size and individual details of each figure. A number of relief-decorated ARS C3 bowls of type Hayes 53A, in the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum at Mainz, such as the one depicting the judgement of Solomon or the revival of Lazarus19, show comparable appliqués. The many details of the long gown depicted in the female figure representing one of the mothers (or Martha) are not encountered in Dyrrachium’s figurative representation, which appeARS to be simpler but with well-defined contours. Possibly the idea behind the production of these two personifications is the same but obviously they derive from different prototypes. Similarly, comparisons with the motif decorating a Salomonson I lamp from Sabratha20 as well as an el-Aouja ARS C1 vessel – interpreted as a Hora personifying Autumn21 – do not suggest the same appliqué. Moreover the different size (width at hem of garment 1,5 cm on the Dyrrachium example, as opposed to 2,3 cm) and the horizontal overlapping of the gown or the leg poking out of it constitute critical differences from the Horae on the lamp from Sabratha22.

  • 23   Mackensen 2003, p. 284-285; 2006, p. 117, 121, tab.1; Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 141 (...)
  • 24   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, tab. 6.

12Macroscopic analysis of the two Dyrrachium vessels reveals similar ware quality between the two, which does not match the characteristics of Sidi Marzouk Tounsi, as the only central Tunisian production centre proven to have produced the appliqué-decorated el-Aouja sigillata in C1 and C2 as well as in C3 quality vessels23. This preliminary observation pointed to the desirability of chemical analysis. This was carried out by G. Schneider (FU Berlin Excellence Cluster Topoi), with the kind support of M. Mackensen. The analysed sample from the amphitheatre of Dyrrachium was shown to have a very high potassium and magnesium content (K2O, MgO), almost identical with that of the reference group of Djilma (table I)24.

Table I : Chemical analyse of the example from the amphitheatre

Table I : Chemical analyse of the             example from the amphitheatre

G. Schneider, FU Berlin

Concluding remarks

  • 25   Mackensen 2002, p. 65-66.

13The detailed archaeometric and stylistic studies on ARS ware have definitely proved that, despite the considerable importance of Sidi Marzouk Tounsi for the production of appliqué-decorated el-Aouja C1, C2 ware and C3 sigillata, this decoration technology was also adopted at Djilma. The assignment of an appliqué-decorated lamp of type Atlante I to this source has greatly enhanced the importance of this other mid-Roman production site25.

14The results of the detailed study of the two unobtrusive fragments found in Dyrrachium underline how profitable it can be to pay attention even to stratigraphically non-relevant fragments. The examination contributed to resolve some significant questions. Although the production of appliqué-decorated el-Aouja C1, C2 ware and C3 sigillata at Sidi Marzouk Tounsi was already known, evidence of the technique now exists for the workshops of Djilma. In addition to the adoption of appliqué decoration technology for lamp production, this central Tunisian production site may have well produced appliqué-decorated sigillata too.

15The two base fragments from Dyrrachium, despite their slight typological differences, related possibly to the two successive phases ARS C1 and ARS C3, display two almost identical decorative motifs with very well-defined modelling of the contours. This can be considered an indicator for chronological proximity between the two fragments discussed. Furthermore, the amphitheatre example provides important evidence that perhaps already in the early phase appliqué-decorated ARS C1 was produced at Djilma.

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Bibliographie

Atlante I 1981, Carandini A. (dir.), Anselmino L., Pavolini C., Saguì L., Tortorella S., Tortorici E., Atlante delle forme ceramiche, I. Ceramica fine romana nel bacino mediterraneo (medio e tardo impero), Rome (Enciclopedia dell’arte antica classica e orientale, suppl. 1).

Bonifay M. 2004, Études sur la céramique romaine tardive d’Afrique, Oxford (BAR Int. S. 1301).

Hayes J.W. 1972, Late Roman Pottery, London.

Hoti A. et alii 2008, Hoti A., Metalla E., Shkodra B., Wilkes J.J., “The Early Byzantine Circular Forum in Dyrrachium (Durrës, Albania) in 2002 and 2004-2005: Recent Recording and Excavation”, ABSA 103, p. 367-397.

Lamboglia N. 1958, “Nuove osservazioni sulla ‘terra sigillata chiara’ (Tipi A e B)”, RStudLig 24, p. 257-330.

Mackensen M. 1993, Die spätantiken Sigillata- und Lampentöpfereien von El Mahrine (Nortunesien). Studien zur nordafrikanischen Feinkeramik des 4. bis 7. Jahrhunderts, Munich (Münchner Beiträge zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 50).

Mackensen M. 1998, “New Evidence for Central Tunisian Red Slip Ware with Stamped Decoration (ARS style D)”, JRA 11, p. 355-370.

Mackensen M. 2002, “A Late Mid-Roman African Red Slip Ware Lamp from Sabratha and Lamp Production at Djilma (Central Tunisia)”, LibStud 33, p. 57-69.

Mackensen M. 2003, “Production of 3rd Century Sigillata A/C (C1-2) or ‘el-Aouja’ Ware and its Transition to Sigillata C3 with Appliqué Decoration in Central Tunisia”, RCRF Acta 38, p. 279-286.

Mackensen M. 2006, “The Study of 3rd Century African Red Slip Ware based on the Evidence from Tunisia”, in D. Malfitana, J. Poblome, J. Lund (éd.), Old Pottery in a New Century, Innovating Perspectives on Roman Pottery Studies. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Catania, 22-24 aprile 2004, Rome (Monografia dell’Istituto per i Beni Archeologici e Monumentali - C.N.R. 1), p. 105-124.

Mackensen M., Schneider G. 2002, “Production Centers of African Red Slip Ware (3rd-7th c.) in Northern and Central Tunisia: Archaeological Provenance and Reference Groups based on Chemical Analysis”, JRA 15, p. 121-158.

Mackensen M., Schneider G. 2006, “Production Centers of African Red Slip Ware (2nd-3rd c.) in Northern and Central Tunisia: Archaeological Provenance and Reference Groups based on Chemical Analysis”, JRA 19, p. 163-190.

Peacock D.P.S., Bejaoui F., Ben Lazreg N. 1990, “Roman Pottery Production in Central Tunisia”, JRA 3, p. 59-84.

Pröttel P.M. 1996, Mediterrane Feinkeramikimporte des 2. bis 7. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. im oberen Adriaraum und in Slowenien, Espelkamp (KSARP 2).

Salomonson J.W. 1968, “Études sur la céramique romaine d’Afrique. Sigillée claire et céramique commune de Henchir el Ouiba (Raqqada) en Tunisie Centrale”, BABesch 43, p. 80-145.

Shkodra B. 2006, “Ceramica tardoantica dal Macellum-Forum di Durrës”, Quaderni Friulani di Archeologia XVI, 1, p. 257-289.

Weidemann K.1990, Spätantike Bilder des Heidentums und Christentums, Mainz.

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Notes

1   Mackensen 2002; 2003.

2   The example from the amphitheatre is exhibited in Durrës Archaeological Museum: Inv. No. 17607; for the example of the Circular Forum with Inv. No. 10409, see: Shkodra 2006, p. 285, fig. 14; Hoti et alii 2008, fig. 12.21.

3   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 174-179, 183-188.

4   Thanks are due to Prof. M. Mackensen for providing me with precisely defined samples from Sidi Marzouk Tounsi and Djilma.

5   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 184-185.

6   Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 187.

7   Shkodra 2006, p. 285; Hoti et alii 2008, phase IV, p. 393, fig. 12.21.

8   Lamboglia 1958.

9   Atlante I, p. 53; Peacock, Bejaoui, Ben Lazreg 1990, p. 76-83; Mackensen 1993, p. 33-37; Pröttel 1996, p. 21; Mackensen 1998, p. 370; 2002; Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 130-134; Mackensen 2003; Bonifay 2004, p. 50-51; Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 174-179.

10   Peacock, Bejaoui, Ben Lazreg 1990.

11   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 131, 151-155; Mackensen, Schneider 2006, respectively: p. 183-185, tab. 3, p. 185-187, tab. 4.

12   Salomonson 1968, tab. II.

13   Hayes 1972, p. 214; Mackensen, Schneider 2006, p. 185.

14   Mackensen 2003, p. 284, fig. 4; 7, tab. 2.

15   Mackensen 2003, p. 285, tab. 3.

16   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 131-132, fig. 5.

17   Pröttel 1996, p. 20.

18   Mackensen 2002, p. 66, fig. 4.

19   Weidemann 1990, fig. 1. 10.

20   Mackensen 2002, fig. 4.

21   Mackensen 2002, p. 61, fig. 4; 2003, p. 282-283, fig. 8.

22   Mackensen 2002, fig. 4.

23   Mackensen 2003, p. 284-285; 2006, p. 117, 121, tab.1; Mackensen, Schneider 2002, p. 141, 151-155, tab. 6; 2006, p. 174-177, 184-185, tab 3.

24   Mackensen, Schneider 2002, tab. 6.

25   Mackensen 2002, p. 65-66.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 : Appliqué-decorated bowls from Dyrrachium
Légende Catalogue (fig. 1) : 1. Circular Forum 2005, Context 107, Inv. No. 10409. Large bowl fragment with broad flat base. Granular clay matrix with flaky fracture, fired red (10R-5/8), common fine white lime inclusions, moderate fine-grained quartz and red oxides, thin slip on both sides. 2. Amphitheatre 1967, Inv. No. 17607. Large bowl fragment with small ring foot. Diam. of foot 13 cm. Granular clay matrix with flaky fracture, fired red (10R-5/6), very common fine white lime eruptions, occasionally as large as 1 mm, moderate fine-grained quartz and red oxides, rare mica, thick glossy slip on both sides to below ring foot.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/683/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 117k
Titre Fig. 2 : The example from the Amphitheatre (no 2)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/683/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 177k
Titre Fig. 3 : Map of ARS production sites (After: Bonifay 2004, fig. 22)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/683/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 517k
Titre Table I : Chemical analyse of the example from the amphitheatre
Crédits G. Schneider, FU Berlin
URL http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/docannexe/image/683/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 73k
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Brikena Shkodra-Rrugia, « A Note on Two Relief Decorated ARS Table Vessels from Dyrrachium/Durrës (Albania) »Antiquités africaines, 52 | 2016, 187-192.

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Brikena Shkodra-Rrugia, « A Note on Two Relief Decorated ARS Table Vessels from Dyrrachium/Durrës (Albania) »Antiquités africaines [En ligne], 52 | 2016, mis en ligne le 24 avril 2020, consulté le 21 mai 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/antafr/683 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/antafr.683

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Brikena Shkodra-Rrugia

Center for Albanian Studies, Research Institute of Archaeology, Sheshi “Nënë Tereza”, nr. 3, Tiranë, Albania

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