This article appeared in the Autumn 1971 (Issue #26) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Stamped Mortaria from Roman Britain -- Help Wanted.
For a number of years I have been collecting material on the potters' stamps on Romano-British mortaria and so far as possible on those made in Gaul and other parts of the Roman Empire. It is hoped eventually to publish a complete index of all the stamps known with illustrations and details of each potter's work. It is also hoped to present a coherent account of the history and development of the industry and of the markets involved.
Anyone involved with Romano-British studies will be acquainted with this spouted kitchen bowl with gritty particles embedded on the inside to provide a hard abrasive surface. This surface was necessary because the bowl was used not only as a general mixing bowl but also for trituratio of soft and semi-hard foodstuffs like vegetables, herbs, fruit, nuts and cheese and the like. Some had had so much wear that the inside surface has been worn away until a small, central hole appeared in the base.
In the first and second centuries these bowls frequently carried the name or trademark of the potter. A few mortaria were imported, but many were made in Britain in large potteries with extensive markets and others were produced by small-time potters serving a local market who perhaps made only a few of these vessels. Because of the stamps it is possible to build up an extensive picture of one man's work, to study his markets, any migration on his part and to study the industry as a whole. In addition the study provides closer dating evidence than unstamped pottery.
Of the potters whose mortaria were sold in Britain, approximately 350 individuals are known by name and about 300 others by unreadable stamps or by trademarks. The majority of these potters were Romano-British. Kent being the first part of Britain to be Romanized has much interesting early pottery. Some of the mortarium stamps recorded there (and in London), have so far occurred nowhere else and, therefore, have a special interest. It is most desirable to include as many stamps as possible in the corpus, and it is still possible to add them during 1971 and 1972. (It must be emphasised that only stamped mortaria can be coped with). Anyone having examples, even if the stamps are fragmentary, is asked, please, to send them, carefully and tightly packed, to:
Mrs K F Hartley c/o Dept. of Latin,
Their arrival will be acknowledged and they will be returned as soon as it is possible to do so.