Ceramics in the Early Christian World

Authored by: John J. Herrmann , Annewies van den Hoek

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138857223
eBook ISBN: 9781315718835
Adobe ISBN:


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Early Christian pottery is explored on two main tracks; one is imagery, which includes pagan, secular, and biblical themes. This track begins in pre-Constantinian times, with the appearance of the menorah, the Good Shepherd, Jonah, and Noah. The track ends with souvenirs of pilgrimage bearing images of a saint or holy place. The other main track is the technical and commercial history of ceramics in the early Christian period (the fourth to the seventh century). As in earlier times, pottery could be coated with brown or green vitreous glaze, although this is rare and localized. Normally fine tableware was coated in highly purified and glossy red slip; African Red Slip ware was the leading type. Tableware could also be fired and coated dark gray or black. More ordinary tableware could be dipped or painted with a duller slip, and many, especially utilitarian wares, such as transport amphorae, were without a surface coating.

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