added by archaeologs
[Latin: 'earthenware with relief figures']. Now a general and compendious term for glossy red table ware of the Roman imperial period. Terra sigillata is essentially a mould-made pottery, with both plain and relief-decorated examples. Geographic distribution is widespread, with several varieties and provenances. Both form and decoration are predominantly reminiscent of metalwork. Vessels bear the name-stamp of individual potters and workshops. Decorative themes include mythological figures, animals and birds, and foliage. Two principal and common types are: (1) Arretine (see ARRETIUM) approximately 30 BC-50 AD; and (2) so-called Samian, or Gaulish sigillata, an industry established in Gaul probably by Arretine migrants, and especially associated with centres at La Graufesenque (Condatomagos), LEZOUX and LYONS. Samian ware is still studied following a classification proposed by H. Dragendorff in 1895-6, and the availability of Samian potters' stamps in dateable contexts gives valuable assistance to the dating of many imperial sites. Generically related or derivative of terra sigillata are the late Roman Argonne or Marne ware, and North African (African Red Slip) and eastern red wares.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983