Die Terra Sigillata aus friesischen Terpen


  • T.B. Volkers
  • M. Polak


In the 19th and first part of the 20th century a large part of the terps along the North Seacoast have been quarried as fertilizer for sandy and peaty soils. During this process a lot of well-preserved objects were found and collected. Among these were several thousand imported objects of Roman provenance, mostly fragments of terra sigillata (T.S.) vessels. More than 2200 fragments were collected from over 90 different terps but with remarkable differences in frequency. Twelve terps contained more than 50 fragments of which five had more than 100 T.S. sherds. Till now only a very small part of the material is published. This first article presents a description and determination of these ‘old’ finds from the province Friesland together with the T.S. from three recent excavations. It will be followed by the research of the T.S from the province Groningen. Described were 2264 fragments: 582 sherd from by mould decorated vessels and 1682 from plain T.S. When divided by period the T.S. fall into three clusters. By far the majority is dated to the second half of the second and first half of the third century. A small group (30 fragments) dates from the first half of the first century and is connected with the roman occupation during this period. Another small group dates from the 4th and 5th century. Former research on T.S. from the excavation at the terp of Ezinge (Groningen) indicated a ‘second’ use of fragments after the vessel was broken. For that reason the fragments of the Frisian terps were checked for these marks. They were found on almost 80% of the sherds dated in the second and third century, but were not found on T.S. from the early, first century. The size of the sherds is rather small, round 5 cm. It seems possible that the people from the northern region were interested in the material itself and that not tableware was imported, but only (red) sherds. That places the research of forms and types in a different light. If just the fragments were of interest it must be of little importance whether they belong to a cup or a plate. The search of the potters’ stamps by Polak gives the possibility to a sharp dating of the stamped fragments. It supports the thesis of Erdrich that there were periods with more and with less contacts with the Roman empire. Especially in turbulent times T.S. could have served as gifts with a political aspect. It is well possible that these gifts consisted of T.S. sherds, rather than of complete vessels.