Samian with ownership graffito

A1 Leeming to Barton




Charlotte Britton

This large sherd of samian ware was one of thousands recovered from the A1L2B excavations and displays both decoration and personal graffito. Also known as terra sigillata, samian ware was a type of pottery imported into Britain during the 1st to 3rd centuries AD, mainly being produced in Gaul (France) and Germany. The pots were made using moulds, so similar designs are often seen.

This sherd was found alongside a rim sherd, five body sherds and a base all belonging to the same vessel; so about half of the complete vessel was recovered. It displays the rim of a large decorated hemispherical bowl known as a ‘Dragendorff 37’. Probably dating to c.AD150–80, these bowls were often decorated with hunting scenes and had what is known as an ovolo design, which is a border at the top of the decorated part of the bowl.

This example also has an incised inscription, just below the rim and above the ovolo border, comprising large angular capital letters probably reading ‘SVPERRA’ and representing a personal name. This is probably a variant spelling of Supera, a feminine name that was common during the period. It is thought that the graffiti was written by the woman in question to indicate ownership of the bowl, which would have been required to distinguish between the mass-produced vessels.

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