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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


Gazan amphorae (GAZ AM)

Three samples

This fabric occurs from the 1st–7th centuries, during which it exhibits extensive typological development, including Peacock & Williams Classes 48–9 (Majcherek 1995).

General appearance

The most characteristic feature of this fabric is its colour, which is a drab brown, sometimes orange (5YR 5/6) in tone. Samples housed here occasionally have lighter surfaces (5YR 6/6), but this is probably discolouration due to salt leaching from the soil. In its later stages of development, another distinguishing feature of this crudely made amphora is clay accretions trailed on the neck and shoulder, making the surface harsh, although elsewhere it may be rough. A hard fabric, the fracture varies from irregular to hackly, depending on the quantity of quartz.

Hand specimen

This is a variable fabric with a silty matrix, containing well- to ill-sorted abundant quartz and sparse to common limestone, which is frequently grey in colour. In general, inclusions range between 0.2–0.5mm, although examples up to 2.0mm can be identified. Small black or red-brown inclusions (primarily iron-rich fragments, but some may be ferromagnesian accessory minerals, <0.2mm) are normally sparse, but can be more common than limestone. In the coarser sherds, clay pellets resulting from poorly mixed clay are visible, while sparse shell can occasionally be identified.

Thin section

Our sample exhibits a well-sorted groundmass of abundant angular quartz and limestone (rarely fossiliferous) measuring c 0.05mm, together with common ill-sorted larger and more rounded grains, normally c 0.2–0.4mm and occasionally up to 1.0mm. There is also a sparse scatter of silt-sized ferromagnesian accessory minerals and rare feldspar. Opaques also occur, generally in the silt grade.


Gaza has long been proposed on distributional and petrological grounds, and the discovery of a series of kiln sites has recently confirmed this (J Humphrey and J Riley, pers comm).


Center for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa (Israel)




Darling, M J, 1993 The Roman pottery, in Caister-on-Sea: excavations by Charles Green 1951–1955 (M Darling with D Gurney) East Anglian Archaeol 60, 153–218

Majcherek, G, 1995 Gaza amphorae: typology reconsidered, in Hellenistic and Roman Pottery in the Eastern Mediterranean – Advances in Scientific Studies. Acts of the IInd Nieborów Pottery Workshop (eds H Meyza & J Młynarczyk), 163–78, Warsaw

Riley, J A, 1979 The coarse pottery from Benghazi, in Sidi Khrebish Excavations, Benghazi (Berenice) 2 (ed J A Lloyd), 91–497, Tripoli

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

Zemer, A, 1978 Storage jars in ancient sea trade, Haifa

Plate 71: Fresh sherd break of GAZ AM (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 71: Fresh sherd break of GAZ AM (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 71.1: Photomicrograph of GAZ AM (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 71.1: Photomicrograph of GAZ AM (XPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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