Introduction     Metal     Pottery     Glass     Ivory     Textile     Manuscripts     Coins - seals

The Early Byzantine pottery
  Pottery vessels were used as storage containers, cheap kitchen- and table wares, lighting devices, incense burners, pilgrim souvenirs, and more. Early Byzantine pottery continued the traditions of Late Roman productions, and saw the wide distribution of a relatively small number of wares, as a result of easy sea links around the Mediterranean. The normal commercial container for liquid (and sometimes dry) goods, such as olive-oil, wine, garum (fish-sauce), fruit and grain, was the amphora, a two-handled jar of elongated or rounded form. During transportation, amphorae were stacked verticaly in the ship's haul. Large ships could carry as many as four layers of amphorae, adding up to thousands of jars per shipment. By the fifth century, a few centres in the Aegean, Cilicia, Gaza, the Negev, Egypt, and North Africa, produced the bulk of amphorae used in Mediterranean trade.
  Africa and Asia Minor, and to a lesser extent Cyprus and Egypt, exported a great deal of the fine tablewares used in the Early Christian house. Many of these wares were imitated by local potters around the Mediterranean. Vessels were made of fine reddish clays, using partly the potter's wheel and partly moulds, and were covered with a red slip - that is a clay solution into which the finished vessel was dipped. Shapes included rectangular flat-based trays, round platters on high foot rings, deep dishes, plates, bowls, cups, jugs, and lamps. Both shapes and decoration (geometric, floral and figurative motifs either stamped or in relief, and later bands of rouletting) imitated the more expensive silverware of the period. Household pottery also included cooking wares and large thick-walled jars (pithoi or dolia) for on-site bulk storage.