Beautiful African-Roman Redware Amphoriskos with Gladiatorial Scene


A very fine Ancient Roman redware amphoriskos sitting on a flanged base. The twin handles are each moulded with double palm fronds, and extend from mid-way on the neck to the shoulders. The body features an applied decoration comprising a gladiatorial scene. On one side an armed figure is attacked by a lion, and on the other is an advancing male figure with raised right arm, dressed in a short tunic. Between them are four regularly spaced, finely-modelled palm fronds.

Date: Circa 3rd-4th Century AD
Condition: Complete and intact with signs of aging and hearthly encrustations on the surface.


SKU: AS-3730 Category: Tags: , , , ,

Wares of this type are usually referred to as African Red Slipware, and they were specific to the African province of the Roman Empire. Most pottery workshops are known from modern Tunisia and Algeria, and they were active from the 1st century until the 7th century AD. African Red Slipware is identified as the final development of terra sigillata, from the Latin, meaning ‘sealed earth’. Terra sigillata was a form of Roman red slipware pottery, which was developed around the mid-1st century BC, both for domestic use and export. These pieces were modelled on the lathe directly in the matrix, on which decorative motifs were hollowed out and then impressed on the smooth body of the vessel, appearing therefore in relief. Sometimes the decorative motifs in relief would have been applied to the vessel by using a very thin, liquid clay. One of the most important centres of production was the Italian city of Arretium (modern day Arezzo). However, terra sigillata wares were produced also in Gaul and later in North Africa and Asia Minor. Terra sigillata vessels were often decorated in accordance with traditional Greco-Roman tastes, presenting images of classical mythology, hunting scenes and divine figures.

Weight 301.8 g
Dimensions H 18 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, Christie’s, Sale 7161, Lot 112.

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