Apolline Project

illuminating the dark side of Vesuvius

Definition of the main classes


Amphorae: large, closed form vessels, generally containers for storage, usually used for commodities like oil/wine/fish sauce, or other products like pitch or alum. The typical characteristic is the medium-large thickness of the walls and the presence of slip, which is a thin layer of liquid clay over the external surface which gives a different colour than in the inside.

Thin-walled pottery: this class mostly includes mugs with thin walls (1-3 millimetres); it was produced from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. It was produced in Italy, Gaul, and Spain.

Lamps: vessels made on a wheel or, more often, with a mould. Their function was to illuminate, and they are distinguished by the presence of at least one hole for the input of oil and a wick.

African red slip ware: fine tableware from Africa which is characterised by a more or less lucid orange slip (Glanztonfilm), which is a lucid clay film.

Slipped ware: fine tableware coming from Northern Campania (also known as Cascano ware), even if it may have been produced also in workshops near Naples. The clay is more or less purified, its walls are fairly thick, and the main characteristic is the exterior slip finish (a thin, liquid clay film, a sort of slip) red, dark or black.

Burnished ware: the main characteristic of this class is the external lucid surface, obtained with a stick (stecca) passed over the external surface of the pot. There are two different kinds of this class: tableware (which is fineware) and cookware, distinguished for the thickness of its walls and less purified clay.

Pantellerian ware: open form vessels, handmade without a wheel, from the Pantelleria island. This class includes just bowls and it is characterised by the thickness of walls and the presence of much volcanic (black) and quartziferous (translucent and square) elements: their presence gives this pottery the quality of tolerate heat easily.

African cooking ware: vessels made for cooking food, mainly casseroles and lids respectively characterised by an ash-coloured patina and by a blackened rim; in both cases, the clay is typically orange.

Cooking ware: vessels used to prepare/cook food. They can be identified for the presence of burnished traces on the outside and, above all, for the numerous volcanic, quartziferous or siliceous elements in the clay, which prevent cracking due to the thermic shock produced by the cooking process.

Common/coarse ware: this category includes all those vessels with various technical characteristics and aspects which are not included in the above categories. They are pots with different forms and functions, less standardised than other defined classes, sometimes ascribed to a geographic area and, in the most fortunate cases, to a particular workshop. Common ware is generally produced locally and does not travel too far from the production workshop: this is a very important characteristic, thus this class may help to understand pottery production of an entire area.