From Port to Table – A Fresh Look at Samian Assemblages from London and Beyond – Gwladys Monteil (Nottingham)

London’s position at the core of a road network for the Roman province of Britain meant that it played a pivotal role as a redistribution centre for imported goods within the province, exploiting official and military supply routes.

Several warehouse and shops samian groups are known in London particularly for the second century AD. Aiming to understand the integrity of each group in terms of chronology, workshops and deposition, previous studies have mostly focused on decorated vessels and potters stamps (Bird 1986, Dickinson 1986, Bird 2005). Considering the whole range of samian forms found in warehouses and shops groups is nevertheless essential since a number of samian forms are unstamped.

Some pairs or groups of samian forms have been found in equal quantities in warehouse assemblages from London and seem to have been imported as ‘sets’. The existence of samian services and the presence of discrete vessel sizes have long been recognised. Often seen as logical by-products of a semi-industrial production and an essential requirement for long-distance transport, little is known about how these sizes were interpreted by consumers or their role in dining.

The following contribution proposes to explore in more details the range of samian forms and sizes found in warehouse groups using detailed quantification. By comparing the profiles of such groups to more domestic samian groups across a range of sites in Roman Britain, it will be possible to understand the dynamics behind the circulation of different groups of samian vessels from port to table and the role played by individual consumer preferences.

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