reading and analysis

Essay by emilysunyxHigh School, 10th gradeB+, October 2014

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Characteristics of Roman Pottery

The pottery of ancient Romans is remarkable in several ways. The high quality of Roman pottery is very easy to appreciate when handling actual pieces of table ware or indeed kitchenware and amphorae(the large jars used throughout the Mediterranean for the transport and storage of liquids, such as wine and oil). However, it is impossible to do justice to Roman wares on the page, even when words can be backed up by photographs and drawings. Most Roman pottery is light and smooth to the touch and very tough, although, like all pottery, it shatters if dropped on a hard surface. It is generall made with carefully selected and porified clay, worked to thin-walled and standardized shapes on a fast wheel and fired in a kiln(pottery oven) capable of ensuring a consistent finish. With handmade pottery, inevitably there are slight differences between individual vessels of the same desigh and occasional minor blemishe(flaws).

But what strikes the eye and the touch most immediately and most powerfully with Roman pottery is its consistent high quality.

This is not just an aesthetic consideration but also a practical one. These vessels are solid(brittle, but not fragile), they are pleasant and easy to handle(being light and smooth), and, with their hard and sometimes glassy(smooth and shiny)surfaces, they hold liquids well and are easy to wash. Furthermore, their regular and standardized shapes would have made them simple to stack and store. When people today are shown a very ordinary Roman pot and, in particular, are allowed to handle it, they often comment on how modern it looks and feels, and they need to be convinced of its true age.

As impressive as the quality of Roman pottery is its sheer massive quantity. When considering quantities, we would ideally like to have some...