Samian Production in Germania Superior

Siehe diesen Text auf

"Schwäbische Ware"
"Helvetische Ware"
Mould finds in Germania Superior


At the end of the 1st Century BC, an innovative ceramic industry using moulds and double-chamber and muffle kilns was developed in Italy. It conquered markets in many Roman provinces in the Mediterranean. Also the huge Samian production centre in southern Gaule achieved a similar commercial success. Already at the end of the 1st Century AD, new Samian manufacturers established themselves in Eastern Gaule. In the 2nd Century AD, similar production sites were started in the Raetia and the Germanic provinces. Apparently, province boundaries didn't play a role in the distribution of Samian.

There were several manufacturing sites for decorated Samian in the province of Germania Superior.



Little is known about the production centre of Luxeuil and it was hitherto only presented in one publication. The distribution of its Samian is currently only derivable from only a few sites outside the production site. The southern part of Germania Superior seems to have been the preferred distribution area.


Already in an early stage of the Samian research did mould fragments and waisters point at the existence of a Samian production site at Lehen nearby Freiburg. But it was only thanks to the publication of H.U. Nuber in 1989 that a preliminary overview on the distribution of this material was achieved.

The main potter Giamillus, whose name was found being stamped in moulds, had via its figure types close connections to the production site in Luxeuil. Although the Lehen ware is not known from dated sites, it can be dated because of its stylistic parallels. The similarity of decoration zones with the decorated ware from the production centres in central Gaule, such as Martres-de-Veyre and Lezoux, suggest a dating in the first half of the 2nd century AD.


"Schwäbische Ware" from Kräherwald, Nürtingen und Waiblingen

There were several Roman Samian production centres at Kräherwald, Nürtingen and Waiblingen, located only a few kilometres apart from each other along the Roman street from Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt to the Vorderen Limes. At the moment, there are no reasons to consider these potteries as being independent from each other. For that reason, this production group is described as "schwäbische Ware".
The distribution of "Schwäbische Ware" is concentrated on the Vorderen Limes. Nevertheless, several finds along the Danube suggest that the marketing was not limited to only one province. Also the assumed custom border of the Western quadragesima Galliarum at the Inn was apparently not a hindrance for a selling these products towards Noricum and Pannonia.
The dating of these workshops depends heavily on the moving of the Vorderen Limes further towards the North and the abandonment of the Hinteren Limes around 155/160 AD. Because Waiblingen is situated between both frontier fortifications, the pottery installations can only have been constructed after the establishment of the Vorderen Limes around 155/160 AD.


Clear evidence for Samian production has been found at Nürtingen during building activities in 2003 . Complete moulds, waisters and kiln-pads are proofs for a fully equipped Samian production site. The mouldmaker Verecundus is traceable by several different dies he used for stamping moulds.

In Neuhausen auf den Fildern, which is only 6 kilometres away from Nürtingen, several mould fragments have been discovered in a cement floor. Because of the similarities with decorations found at Nürtingen, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that these mould fragments have been produced in Nürtingen.




Nearby Waiblingen, in the area called "Bildstöckle", traces of a Roman ceramic industry have been found already in the 19th Century. Extensive excavations in the year 1967 proofed that the finds were related to a pottery village which was entirely dedicated to pottery production. Up to 31 pottery kilns have been excavated. Additionally, not only moulds but also figure dies for decorating moulds were discovered..
The potter Reginus was found to have been the dominating mould maker. Apart from that, other stylistically independent mould series and figure types of Domitianus und Marinus have been found.
The relations between the Swabian Reginus and the Reginus who was producing at Heiligenberg are giving a hint for the dating of Waiblingen. It is conceivable, that the Heiligenberg Reginus at first tried to start up business in the Swabian area, before he moved to Rheinzabern.


Already at the beginning of the 20th Century moulds and kiln-pads have been found during prospections at the Stuttgart Kräherwald. They were published by R. Knorr. On one of the kild-pads traces of a stamp of Sedatus are visible, who has also worked at Rheinzabern. Like in Waiblingen, Reginus was also in this pottery active with a figure type repertoire strongly connected to Heiligenberg and Rheinzabern.


"Helvetische Ware"

Two large Samian manufactories are known from southern Germania Superior. On n the peninsula Bern-Enge and in Baden as well, decorated Samian has been produced in large quantities. When looking at the distribution of these wares, a sharp division into two parts of the Helvetian market is clearly visible: whereas the products from Baden have been sold mainly towards in Western directions, the pottery from Bern-Enge was principally marketed towards the North and East:
Stylistically, the Helvetian products are not orientating themselves towards the large manufacture of Rheinzabern, but towards the Raetian Samian industry of Westerndorf. The vague dating ideas about the Bern-Enge and Baden production period (at the end of the 2nd Century / beginning of the 3rd century) are in correspondence with this.



During the excavations of R. Forrer at the beginning of the 20th Century, large pottery installations with several kilns have been found. The extensive Samian has been published along general lines in 1911.
The relation between the Heiligenberg pottery and the ca. 150 AD simultaneously founded manufactories in Rheinzabern and Waiblingen is still not very clear. Indisputable is at least, that the Heiligenberg Reginus was also active in Waiblingen. It can also be taken for granted, that the Heiligenberg potter Ianus was the same whom we know from the starting period in Rheinzabern. The close relation between the Samian manufactories in Heiligenberg and Rheinzabern is also clearly visible in the habit to stamp decorated pots on the rim. This practice was widely in use in Heiligenberg and during the early period of Rheinzabern. As an example, the potter Constans did not only in Heiligenberg, but also in Rheinzabern stamp rims of decorated ware with his name.

The decorate ware in Heiligenberg was largely made by only a few mould makers: Ianus, F-Meister, Reginus und Ciriuna. Recent chemical-mineralogical analysis has shown that the decorated ware of Verecundus, which was found at Heiligenberg, cannot have been produced there. Also the theory of R. Forrer, that Ittenweiler was an independent production site must nowadays be rejected. According to the same chemical-mineralogical analysis, the allegedly in Ittenweiler produced wares must have been produced in Heiligenberg.

The distribution of Samian pottery produced in Heiligenberg is remarkable closely related to the Vordere Limes, which was established 155/160 AD. It is hardly accidental that the nearby the Vordere Limes established pottery in Waiblingen was initiated by the workshop of Reginus in Heiligenberg.
The striking absence of Heiligenberg products in the Danube countries and in Germania Inferior as well is also pointing to a production which was focused on a very specific market: the wealthy soldiers at the Vordere Limes. Outside its main market, Heiligenberg pottery can only be traced in large find quantities, such as in the remote areas on the Niederrhein and the middle Danube.
The decorations of Verecundus, who most likely didn't work in Heiligenberg itself, seem to have been mainly marketed towards the southern part of Germania Superior and were not known at the Vordere Limes. The only very few Swiss sites published completely until now are suggesting this conclusion.


The largest Samian manufacturing site in Germania Superior was situated along the long-distance road from Strasbourg to Speyer. It supplied between 150/160 AD up to 260 AD large parts of the North-Western Roman Empire.
A section of the 1974-1993 excavation results is showing a classic road vicus with stripe houses orientated parallel to the main road. The more remote areas further away from the main road were clearly less structured.

Already during the 1st century AD, the clay resources nearby Rheinzabern were exploited. The road vicus Tabernae Rhenanae with its typical stripe houses was in the 1st century AD a production site for tiles of the Legio IV Macedonica and Legio XXII Primigenia. At the end of the 1st century AD, the legions Legio I Adiutrix, Legio XIV and Legio XXI Rapax made tiles in the same place. These legions were stationed in Mainz. Whether the pottery village was under military administration is unknown. A military camp has until now not been found..

Apart from tile production, also coarse ware has been produced.

In the middle of the 2nd century AD several parcel structures were not considered anymore and pottery installation were build on top of them. It is yet unclear whether this happened only locally or in the whole village.

The manufacturing of decorated Samian started in Rheinzabern around 150 AD. With the aid of moulds, decorated vessels could be produced in series. The technique of 2 room kilns, which technique was transferred from Italy, allowed for a separating of smoke and ceramic during the firing and also for extremely high firing temperatures of more than 1000 degrees.

Statistical studies proofed that the Rheinzabern potters were organised in 7 groups. They can be called Jaccard-Gruppen. Some potters could switch between the groups.


Rheinzabern Samian was distributed from England to the Black Sea. The dots on the map are only showing the presence of Rheinzabern Samian. They do not present frequencies. Based on the quantities behind each dot, the distribution in England and Romania can be considered as a periphery market.
When considering the distribution map of Rheinzabern Samian, it is clear that there have been several gravity centres in Barbaricum, which cannot be contributed to research focussing on certain areas.
The remarkable strong concentration in Friesland is possibly related to the enhancement of the coastal defence systems in Zeeland, Belgium and England during the reign of the Usurpator Carausius. The strongholds in Aardenburg, Oudenburg and Shadwell are clear indications of an intensified military presence and with that a strong pointer towards where the money went in this area at that time. At the same time, the actual Limes in Germania Inferior was hardly supplied anymore with Samian.

Some find contexts in the vicinity of Leuna-Hassleben from period C1 brought considerable quantities of Samian produced in Rheinzabern. The fact that many gold coins from the same period have been found in this region strongly points towards a special relationship between the tribal people near Leuna-Hassleben and the Roman Empire. This relationship must not have been of a friendly nature, as finds from the Mainfranken seem to indicate. The Germanic settlements in Mainfranken delivered also large quantities of Samian produced in Rheinzabern. But in this case, the Germani from this region were considered as hostile by the Romans, since the adjoining Limes section was enforced with police stations of the benificarii.

On the other hand are the remarkable quantities found in Slovakia and Pannonia directly related to the military campaigns of the Marcomannic wars and the presence of the Roman emperors in Aquincum until 212 AD. The majority of the decorated Samian found in this region dates is datable in this period.

The significant find concentration in central Poland cannot be explained at the moment. Because the same decoration series are involved as those found in Slovakia and Pannonia, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there must have been a relation between this central Polish region and the Marcomannic wars and the presence of the emperors Septimus Severus und Caracalla in Pannonia afterwards.

Putting things together concerning the distribution of Rheinzabern Samian, one can clearly see a development in its distribution patterns. The early products were mainly sold in the mid-Neckar area and Raetia. The vessels made in the middle production period were preferably merchandised into the Pannonia area and its adjacent Barbaricum. The latish Rheinzabern Samian was mainly distributed in the Wetterau and towards the North Sea coast.


Mould finds in Germania Superior

Several mould fragments have been found outside the manufacturing sites in the Germanic provinces and in Raetia as well. By far the most mould fragments could be registered in the province Germania Superior. This could have been caused by the high concentration of production sites in this province.
A general impression when looking at the distribution of mould finds is that they usually occur within the proper distribution area of the production site. The only exception is a mould find in Kempten in the province Raetia. All this evidence suggests that these pieces were transported within the context of the regular ceramic trade and can not be taken as indications for the establishment of new Samian potteries in hitherto uncovered distribution markets.

The provenance of several mould finds is unclear. This concerns specifically large mould fragments in which mould stamps are completely preserved. Especially this category can be found regularly in old museum basement collections with uncertain provenance. Therefore it seems logic that these pieces came in exchange or as a present from the Rheinzabern excavations in the beginning of the 20th Century. Similar mould finds are known the magazines from Lyon, Nantes and Bordeaux.

The following list contains the mould fragments hitherto found outside the Samian production sites. List 2 contains finds from museum basement collections with unclear provenances. A third list shows moulds in fine ware technique.

In very few cases fine ware has been produced out of Samian moulds. These indirect evidence for the presence of Samian moulds can be summarised in a fourth list.



To conclude: the foundation of Samian manufacturies in Germania Superior and Raetia happened along a very clear chronological line from the West towards the East. The earliest newly started Samian production centres were started in Luxeuil (120-140 n.Chr.) and Heiligenberg (140-160 n.Chr.). A connection between Heiligenberg and the military activities at the Vordere Limes can only partly be assumed for Heiligenberg. On the contrary, in the case of Waiblingen, this connection is very clear related to the forwarding of the Limes in 155/160 n.Chr. The marketing area of the Samian production centres in Schwabegg and Westerndorf were orientated much further towards the East, were between 170 and 220 AD a large economic potential appeared in the context of the Marcomannic wars and the presence of several emperors in the middle Danube area.




List 1      
Site Production site mould / potter   Literature
Augst Rheinzabern / Reginus I Vogel Müller 1990, 147, Abb. 1
Frankfurt-Praunheim Rheinzabern
Ianu I
Fischer 1979/1980, 733, Abb. 3,1.2; Simon 1977, 472
Köngen Rheinzabern Simon 1977, 473

1: Iulius II-Iulianus I / Victorinus II / Respectinus II
2: Art Iulianus II

Kortüm 1995, 213-214, Taf. 69, 214-215.
Riegel Lehen / Giamillus Bräuning/Dreier/Klug-Treppe, 38
Rutesheim Rheinzabern

Knorr 1905, Taf. XXXIII, 1.2
Vindonissa Bern-Enge Vogt 1941, Taf. 32,9
Liste 2      
Uncertain provenance      
Site Production site mould / potter   Literature
Altenstadt - Schiltigheim Rheinzabern / Victorinus Forrer 1911, 719, Fig. 115; Simon 1977, 473
Baden Rheinzabern / Cobnertus Vogt 1941, Taf. 31,2
Bregenz Rheinzabern / Cerialis
Forrer 1911, 695, Fig. 97; Kellner 1962, Taf. 8,10; Simon 1977, 473
Jebsheim Rheinzabern / Iulius Forrer 1911, 720, Fig. 116
Mainz Rheinzabern / BF. ATTONI

Fremersdorf 1949-1954, Abb. 1-3
Riegel Rheinzabern / Knorr 1910, 8 Textfig. 7
Solothurn Rheinzabern / Regulinus Vogt 1941, Taf. 31,1
Liste 3      
Coarse ware moulds      
Site Production site mould / potter   Literature
Saalburg "Einheimischer Formschüssel"? Saalburg-Jahrbuch 6, 1914/1924, 73, Taf. 11,29

"Einheimischer Formschüssel"

Kellner 1962, Taf. 6,3


Liste 4      
Coarse ware pottery made in Samian moulds      
Site Production site mould / potter type   Literature
Groß-Gerau Trier Simon 1965, 61, Abb. 10,13-14
Praunheim Rheinzabern / Firnisware
Fischer 1979/1980, 733, Abb. 3,4
  Rheinzabern / Firnisware Fischer 1979/1980, 733, Abb. 3,5
  Luxueil / Firnisware
Fischer 1979/1980, 728, Abb. 1,2.3
Rheinzabern / Reginus I
Schallmayer 1984, 25, Abb. 3



Sites / Distribution maps of Samian based on:


Bern-Enge / Baden

K. Roth-Rubi, La production de terre sigillée en Suisse aux IIe et IIIe S. Problèmes de définition. In: C. Bémont / J.-P. Jacob (ed.), La terre sigillée gallo-romaine. Lieux de production du Haut-Empire: implantations, produits, relations. Documents d'Archéologie Française 6, 269-273.


Kräherwald / Nürtingen / Waiblingen / Neuhausen auf den Fildern

Kaiser 2005, 403-408; Luik 1996, 161-162 Fußnote 504; Luik 2005, 129-133; Luik 2005, 19-24; Simon 1977, 464-473; Simon 1984, 471ff.



Zusammenfassend für den Vorderen Limes: Biegert / Lauber /Kortüm 1995, 653ff.
Bemmann 1994, 98; Eschbaumer 1990, 265; Fischer 1990, 44; Fritsch 1910a; Fritsch 1910b, Taf. 7-10; Fritsch 1913; Furger/Deschler-Erb 1992, Taf. 70, 18/9; Gaubatz-Sattler 1995, 145ff; Gaubatz-Sattler 1999; Grönke/Weinlich 1991, 51; Groh / Sedlmayer 2006, 252; Hartmann 1981, 19; Jütting 1995, 185; Juhász 1935, kép XII; Jung / Schücker 2006, Tab. 6; Karnitsch 1959, 244-246; Karnitsch 1960, 24; Karnitsch 1971, 144; Luik 1996, 151f.; Mayer-Reppert 2003, 468; Mayer-Reppert 2006; Menke 1974, 150; Müller 1979, 45; Ortisi 2000, 56; Pferdehirt 1983, 361; Pferdehirt 2003, 227; Sakař 1956, 56; Schmid 2000; Schönberger / Simon 1966, nr. 330; Simon 1970, 99; Simon 1973, 94; Simon 1976, 49; Simon 1978, 25; Simon 1983; Spitzing 1988, 71; Teichner 1994, 192;Thiel 2005, Taf. 30; Urner-Astholz 1942; Urner-Astholz 1946; Wagner-Roser 1999; Walke 1965, Taf. 21; Zanier 1992, 116.


Mayer-Reppert 2006, 218; H.U. Nuber, A. Giamilus - ein Sigillatatöpfer aus dem Breisgau. Archäologische Nachrichten aus Baden 42, 1989, 3-9.



Lerat / Y. Jeannin 1960, Fig. 10; Mayer-Reppert 2006, 219.



Droberjar 1991; Erdrich 2001; Gabler / Vaday 1986; Gabler / Vaday 1992; Hansen 1987; Mayer-Reppert 2006 218; Mees 2002, 149ff.; Peschek 1978, 75ff; Popilian 1973; Tyszler 1999.



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