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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel


Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC


Asia Minor (Micaceous) amphorae (ASM AM)

Four samples

This type equates to British ‘Biv’ amphorae or Peacock & Williams Class 45.

General appearance

A red-brown (2.5YR 5/8, 10R 5/8) fabric, sometimes with duller and paler surfaces (2.5YR 5/4–5/6, 2.5YR 6/6 ), or occasionally brown (7.5YR 5/3). Soft to hard, it has a smooth fracture and smooth, frequently soapy, surfaces. The vessel is distinctively thin walled with undulating ribbing.

Hand specimen

This is a fine and intensely micaceous fabric, with most inclusions well sorted to <0.2mm, although examples to 0.5mm can be identified. Quartz and mica (silver and gold) comprise the two most common inclusion types: either abundant or common, they vary somewhat in their ratio to each other. Mica is always abundant on the surface, and may measure up to 0.5mm. Other inclusions, present in some samples, are sparse and comprise fine black iron-rich fragments (<0.1mm) and clay pellets.

Thin section

The matrix contains abundant flakes and aggregates of brown to colourless mica, up to 0.3mm. Ill-sorted subangular quartz grains of fine to medium-grade sand, with subordinate subangular grains of feldspar up to 0.15mm, are sparse. A single coarse quartz-biotite schist fragment has a diameter of 0.9mm, and this provides an indication of the probable source material for the mineral grains in the fabric.


No kilns are known for the type, but a combination of petrology and distribution indicates a source in western Asia minor (Peacock & Williams 1986, 190), particularly in the environs of Ephesus (U Outschar, pers comm).


Museum of London


York Archaeological Trust


Campbell, E, 1988 The post-Roman pottery, in Early medieval settlements in Wales AD 400–1100: a critical reassessment and gazetteer of the archaeological evidence for secular settlements in Wales (eds N Edwards & A Lane), 124–36

Lang, M, 1955 Dated jars of early Imperial times, Hesperia 24, 277–85

Rahtz, P A, & Williams, D F, 1992 B wares, in Cadbury Congresbury 1968–73. A late/post Roman hilltop settlement in Somerset (P A Rahtz et al), BAR 223, 169–79

Riley, J A, 1981 The pottery from cisterns 1977.1, 1977.2 and 1977.3, in Excavations at Carthage 1977 conducted by the University of Michigan 6 (ed J H Humphrey), 85–124, Ann Arbor

Thomas, C, 1981 A provisional list of imported pottery in post-Roman western Britain and Ireland

Tomber, R S, & Williams, D F, 1986 Late Roman amphorae in Britain, J Roman Pottery Stud 1, 42–54

Williams, D F, 1982 The petrology of certain Byzantine amphora: some suggestions as to origins, Actes colloque sur la céramique antique Carthage, CEDAC (Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation Archéologique de la Conservation de Carthage) Carthage Dossier 1, 91–110, Tunis

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 60: Fresh sherd break of ASM AM (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 60: Fresh sherd break of ASM AM (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 60.1: Photomicrograph of ASM AM (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 60.1: Photomicrograph of ASM AM (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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