Production technology of roman lead-glazed pottery and its continuance into late antiquity

M. S. Walton*, M. S. Tite

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


A broad selection of Roman lead-glazed pottery dating from the first century ad through the fifth century ad was studied to establish locations of workshops and to address their technology of production. The ceramic bodies were analysed by ICP-AES. In addition, lead isotope analysis was undertaken on a selection of glazes. These findings suggested that there were several regions responsible for the production of lead-glazed ceramics in the western Roman world, including central Gaul, Italy and, probably, Serbia and Romania. Using the body compositions as a starting point, the glazing techniques employed by each of the potential workshops were examined using electron probe microanalysis. It was determined that there were two primary methods of glazing. The first method used lead oxide by itself applied to non-calcareous clay bodies, and the second method used a lead oxide-plus-quartz mixture applied to calcareous clay bodies. Based on these data for clay composition and glazing method, transfer of technology from the Hellenistic east to the western Roman world was proposed. Likewise, the inheritance of lead-glazing technology into late antiquity was established by making comparisons to lead-glazed ceramics dating to the seventh to ninth centuries from Italy, the Byzantine world and Tang Dynasty China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-759
Number of pages27
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Anatolia
  • Byzantine
  • China
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Gaul
  • Icp-Aes
  • Italy
  • Lead Isotope Analysis
  • Lead-Glazed Pottery
  • Roman
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Tang

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology

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