Roman Republican coarse ware from Norba, Southern Lazio (Italy): a multi‑analytical study of production technology and trade

Barbara Borgers*, Corina Ionescu, Ágnes Gál, Tymon de Haas, Lucian Barbu-Tudoran

*Corresponding author for this work

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The first objective of this paper is to reconstruct the production technology of fourth–first centuries BCE coarse ware from surveys near the ancient town of Norba in the Lepini Mountains of Southern Lazio, Italy, adopting a multi-analytical method, combining macroscopic observation with polarised light optical microscopy (OM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The second objective of this study is to gain insight into Norba’s integration in broader production and distribution networks in Southern Lazio between the fourth–first centuries BCE, by comparing the results with previous data for coarse ware prevalent in the region at that time. The results indicate that the coarse ware from Norba was produced with Fe-rich, Ca-poor, and illite-muscovite clays and fired in an oxidising atmosphere between 750 and 900 °C. Differences among the coarse ware exist in the paste recipes, e.g. intentionally added temper. Most coarse ware from Norba bears compositional similarities to that from the Alban Hills and the Tiber Valley, north of Rome, suggesting that Norba was integrated into the marketing of pottery that was common in Southern Lazio during the fourth–first centuries BCE. In comparison, only a few coarse wares seem to have been produced in the surrounding area (e.g. Satricum and Forum Appii), or even locally in Norba. The results further indicate changes in these regional/local distribution networks; some coarse ware seems to have been imported from Satricum, where a workshop was active during the fourth century BCE. When ceramic production at Satricum ceased, potters settled in the towns of Forum Appii and Norba, where they produced ceramic building material and fine ware in the second–first centuries BCE, respectively. The results of this study tentatively suggest that potters in these locations may have also manufactured coarse ware during this period.
Original languageEnglish
Article number180
Number of pages17
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 6-Nov-2023


  • Ceramic analyses
  • ceramic fabric analysis
  • Italy
  • Roman archaeology

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