African Sigillata 2

Class of gloss-slipped tableware that subsumes two related sub-classes, one from the interior of central Tunisia, the other perhaps from central Tunisia, northern Tunisia, or western coastal Tripolitania.

This class, which has elsewhere been termed sigillata africana A/D and ARS A/D, consists of a set of distinct, heavy-walled open forms that display affinities with forms in both African Sigillata 1 (ARS A) and African Sigillata 5 (ARS D).  These have a gritty, light red or red body that displays no visible inclusions, and have a notably thick, regular, highly glossy light red or red slip on all surfaces.

This class was initially regarded as a unitary production originating somewhere in central Tunisia.  A program of compositional research carried out by Mackensen and Schneider, however, has demonstrated, that it subsumes two distinct, if apparently related (in terms of chronology, the set of forms represented, and overall appearance) production groups.  One of these, which has a gritty, quartz-rich fabric containing a distinct component of calcareous bodies, can be associated with a pottery workshop located at Henchir El-Guellal, near Djilma, in the interior of central Tunisia that also produced African Sigillata 3.  The other, which has a gritty, quartz-rich body that lacks a significant component of calcareous bodies, displays a chemical composition that Mackensen and Schneider believed pointed to an origin somewhere in northern Tunisia.  The fact that examples of this second production group were abundant among a set of excavated materials from Sabratha, on the coast of Tripolitania, however, also led these scholars to hold open the possibility that it originated somewhere in this region.  At the same time, the similarity of this second production to the first suggests that it, too, may have originated somewhere in central Tunisia, presumably at no great distance from Henchir El-Guellal.

The production of this class was originally thought to have occurred over a somewhat restricted period of time, extending from the late second to the middle of the third century CE (ca. 180/190-250/260 CE).  Lund’s review of the dating evidence for the suite of forms associated with it, however, indicates that this should be expanded to ca. 160/180-300/310 CE.

The Palatine East materials display two different (if not easily distinguishable or distinguishable with complete confidence) fabrics that appear to correspond to the two fabrics described by Mackensen and Schneider, and they have accordingly been divided for documentation and presentation into two sub-classes, designated African Sigillata 2.1 and African Sigillata 2.2.  A small number of body fragments were not classified by fabric and were documented and are presented simply as African Sigillata 2. 

The contexts in which these materials were recovered at the Palatine East are compatible with the date ranges suggested in previous publications for the various forms represented and for the class/two sub-classes overall.


Hayes 1972, 43, 51-6, 289; Atlante I, 52-8; Lund 1995, 483-485; Camilli 1995, 25; Mackensen and Schneider 2002, 130, 141, 158; Bonifay 2004, 50-1; Serrano Ramos 2005, 235-7; Mackensen and Schneider 2006, 165, 168, 173-4, 177, 182-3, 185-7; Ben Moussa 2007, 67-8; Bonifay et al. 2012, 46-47.