Pottery. Terra Sigillata or Samian Ware

OF all the characteristic remains found on Roman sites there is nothing more enduring than the shards of broken pottery. Colours, textures, shapes are usually preserved, and thus it is often possible to reconstruct from one or two tiny fragments the exact form of vessels long since hopelessly broken and scattered. These shards, too, as more facts are ascertained about them, become increasingly valuable as a means of fixing dates. Among the Romans, as among ourselves, shapes and methods of decoration changed with the fashions of the time, and, if we could get a thorough knowledge of such changes, we should have a chronological series even more valuable than coins to the archaeologist. In Britain little has as yet been done to achieve such a result. We have indeed in our island few sites which were first occupied sufficiently late, or were abandoned sufficiently early, to be helpful. Cemeteries in which the interments can be dated with any certainty are no less rare. Sites of towns like Silchester were occupied for a long period, and in these stratification is, as a rule, difficult. But we may hope something from the careful records made at Manchester, and from the excavations now proceeding at Corbridge-on-Tyne and Caersws.

On the Continent the study of the subject is more happily placed. The various stages that marked the advance of the Roman arms are known from other evidence, and in the great legionary fortresses, as well as in the smaller forts and outpdsts,—established, altered, or abandoned, as the tide of conquest ebbed and flowed across the Rhine,—deposits have been identified as belonging to definite periods, sometimes periods of comparatively short duration. In the fort of Haltern,[1] for instance, which lies in the country between the Rhine and the Elbe, we have remains datable to the reign of Augustus, for we know that the period of occupation must fall between the

1 Ritterling, 'Haltern und die Altertumsforschung an der Lippe,' Mitteilungen der Altertums-kommission für Westfalen, Heft ii.