Ancient Roman Pottery

Back in ancient Rome, pottery was done in tremendous quantities, they were mostly manufactured for useful purposes and they were famous across the whole ancient Roman Empire and even beyond.

Very often, the ancient Roman pottery was widely divided into fine and coarse ware, with the coarse ones being used regularly for daily activities like cooking, preservation, and transportation of goods and foodstuffs, while the fine ware were mostly used as serving vessels used for official dinner occasions.

They had a more beautiful and refined appearance because they were made by skillful and professional Roman potters in their workshops of which were often transported far and beyond to be traded.

The production of fine wares like the Terra sigillata was done in big industries that manufacture high-quality products.

The “fine” pottery rather than luxurious ones were the major strength of the ancient Roman pottery, different from the Roman glass, which was accompanied by silver and gold tableware used by the elites was considered to be extremely exuberant and expensive.


  • Relief decorations were done on most expensive pottery, they were often moulded than painted and they had structures and decorations which were similar to great metal works.
  • Terracotta or blasted clay was famously used during the ancient Roman era for architectural functions such as manufacture of tiles and bricks, and in some occasions, they were used for architectural designs and production of small lamps and statuettess.
  • Many of these pottery wares (Fine wares) were distributed widely and were manufactured in large scale, and high degree of professionalism was a very important key in this industry. Potter’s marks were usually used to connect potters to the fine wares they manufactured, and this was also used by potters as means of identification and information.
  • The rendition of name-stamps could appear to be more complicated than it looks at first sight. Visible name-stamps which were easily seen on decorated parts publicized the factory or industry’s name. However, the identity of individual craftsmen who also worked on the pottery were seen only on plain vessels.
  • The ancient Romans referred to the pottery jars used to convey several food items and liquids as They were also used to preserve wine, sauce, and olive oil. They often had large structures and coarse surfaces. The sizes and shapes varied and were dependent on the type of liquid preserved in them. It was of great necessity that an Amphorae should be easily handled, preserved, shouldn’t have excess weight or be fragile. The most frequently produced Amphorae found had a liquid capacity of 70litres and it was used to preserve olive oil.
  • Unlike the Greeks, the ancient Romans had no interest in painting wares as means of decoration. They were more attracted to relief decorations. The Romans adopted the act of glazing wares with lead and several other types of materials so as to give it a perfect lustre and beauty.
  • During the era of Augustus, the ancient Romans had to trade something on the silk roads so as to purchase other things, this led to the construction and establishment of big pottery industries where many quality pottery were produced and sold to several places. Most workers in this industry were slaves.
  • Pottery wasn’t only in forn of vessels, pots, dishes, cups but were also used to make several items like pottery ovens, braziers, potty seats, water pipes, dolls, liquid transportation pipes, toilet paper, and many other items.


  • Question: What form of pottery decoration did the ancient Romans prefer the most?
    Answer: They preferred the relief decorations.
  • Question: What did the ancient Romans use to make bricks and tiles during the ancient Roman era?
    Answer: They used Terracotta or glazed clay.
  • Question: What is the capacity of the Amphorae used to preserve olive oil?
    Answer: it had a capacity of 70litres
  • Question: Which of the pottery wares was done by highly skilled and professional potters?
    Answer: The fine wares.