Roman Pottery

By: Tara Yeakey

There were many different types of Roman Pottery; such as Fine ware, Arntine, Coarse ware, and Amphoras pottery. Though all of these types of pottery had different characteristics, they were all created on a manual pottery wheel.

Fine ware Pottery

Fine ware pottery was a less common type of pottery that was seen as less prestigious. Most fine ware was made of either class or metal, but lower class citizens used clay. If clay was being used, the decorations that would be present of the fine ware was most commonly going to be geometric patterns or there would be no pattern. Fine ware pottery was more mass produced than anything else and could easy break if it wasn't taken care of properly.

Aretine Pottery

Arentine pottery was also known as "terra sigillanta". It was usually left its natural red color, with a clear protective glaze, and was further decorated with carved in designs. It was more common around the Mediterranean area and imitated all over Europe and Asia.

Coarse ware Pottery

Coarse ware pottery very rarely glazed or painted, with minimal decoration. It was used for everyday purposes. It would commonly chip and break, but was produced in large amounts and could easily be replaced. The walls of the pottery were almost always thick, so that it would last longer during everyday use.

Amphoras Pottery

Amphoras pottery was one of the most common types of pottery and were used for many different purposes. Since the size of the pottery could vary drastically, it was easy for them to be stored at the bottom of ships. With this, archeologists have found many broken Amphoras pots at the bottom of the ocean around the Roman area. The texture of the pottery was usually coarse and could range greatly with the amount of design.


Slip surface- a slip surface would usually be added to coarse pottery so that watery substances wouldn't sit in the crevices of the pottery and make it hard to clean.

Glazing- glazing was very uncommon in Roman pottery until the 1st Century BCE. If glazes were used, they could give great effects and would sometimes make the pottery look like glass.

Painting- painting also wasn't very popular with the Romans and would only really be used on fine or coarse ware pottery to give the pots a more smooth finish.

Design- the designing on Roman pottery was usually very basic and would almost always be geometric.

Stamps- stamps were mostly used to identify the family who owned the pottery or the maker of the pottery. The stamp would be found on the bottom of the pot and would have some form of identification, such as initials or a symbol.


Throwing was the most common way of creating Roman pottery and could easily be taught to anyone. The pottery wheels used in Ancient Rome were manually spun and took much longer than they do today. The potter would put their piece of clay on the wheel and manually spin the wheel with their hands.


Firing was the last process in making pottery. The pottery could not be used if it wasn't fired because it would fall apart if it got wet. The pots would be loaded into a kiln, where the pottery would be heated up to about 2,000 degrees for about 24 hours. After the kiln was done, the pots could be used.

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