Roman North African Red Ware Amphoriskos with Jupiter

£ 2,500.00

An extremely fine Ancient Roman red slipware amphoriskos from North Africa. The globular body sits on a slightly flared flanged base. The slender neck tapers slightly towards the gently everted rim. Three incised bands adorn the point just above where the handles meet the neck. The handles are decorated with twin palm fronds, and extend in a curve down towards the shoulders of the vessel. The smooth surface of the body is enriched with applied decoration. On one side Jupiter, the god of the sky and thunder, sits enthroned and holding a bident, while on the other a gladiator is embroiled in battle with a leopard. This is a dynamic vignette, with the leopard thrown over the gladiator’s shoulder and its mouth agape as it struggles against the warrior’s strong grasp. Both scenes are framed by Corinthian columns on either side.

Date: Circa 1st - 3rd Century AD
Provenance: Ex German private collection, 1980 -90s; Ex JL Collection
Condition: Very fine condition, with some small signs of aging to the surface. Very small hole in neck, and chip to base of one of the columns.
Product Code: RES-188
Category: Tags: , , ,

When held by Jupiter (also known as Jove), the bident represents the forked lightning bolt through which the sky god exercised his divine will. The bident was also later associated with Roman god of the underworld, Dis Pater, who was sometimes seen as a foil to Jupiter – the philosopher Seneca and the poet Virgil both draw this comparison.

Wares of this type are usually referred to as African Red Slipware, and they were specific to the African provinces of the Roman Empire. Most pottery workshops are known from modern Tunisia and Algeria, and they were active from the 1st century until the 7th century AD. African Red Slipware is identified as the final development of terra sigillata, from the Latin, meaning ‘sealed earth’. Terra sigillata was a form of Roman red slipware pottery, which was developed around the mid-1st century BC, both for domestic use and export. These pieces were modelled on the lathe directly in the matrix, on which decorative motifs were hollowed out and then impressed on the smooth body of the vessel, appearing therefore in relief. Sometimes the decorative motifs in relief would have been applied to the vessel by using a very thin, liquid clay. One of the most important centres of production was the Italian city of Arretium (modern day Arezzo). However, terra sigillata wares were produced also in Gaul and later in North Africa and Asia Minor. Terra sigillata vessels were often decorated in accordance with traditional Graeco-Roman tastes, presenting images of classical mythology, hunting scenes and divine figures.

Dimensions L 14.8 x W 9.7 cm



North Africa

Roman Mythology


Reference: For a similar item: The British Museum, London, item 1997-0402-3

You may also like…