Seeing an ancient face staring back at you from a museum display is a real thrill. It is one of the main reasons that we adore replicating this sought-after style of Roman pottery. Head pots were widely used throughout Roman Britain and are some of the most striking ceramic items produced during Roman rule. They seem to have been a speciality of Romano-British potters.
Romano-British potters individually modelled the almost caricature-like features of these pots onto beautifully wheel-thrown jars. This hand modelling technique is a relatively unusual method of working for the Romans, who often preferred the quicker convenience of mould decoration.
Head pots are believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Roman army, with numerous examples being unearthed at Colchester, where Archaeologists found the original of this pot. Due to the sheer numbers of sherds found, there was likely a prolific production site within this area for this pottery style.
Although a common find in Colchester head pots are not limited to this location, there have also been many head potsherds found along Hadrian's wall.
Their function and significance are, as of yet, not fully understood. Many, but by no means all, head pots have smith tools on them, suggesting a link to the God Vulcan. Many head pots have been found in burial settings lead some to believe that this was their primary usage. However, the majority have been found in settlement sites, so they were more likely to be used prominently in a domestic setting, perhaps for food storage.
Earthenware, reduction fired.
Approx. 190 mm tall, 185 mm diameter
As with all our Museum Quality Replicas, we have made this pot, as the original would have been, entirely by hand from natural clay and using replicas of the types of tool that the ancient makers would have used. As each pot varies, you may not receive the same cup in the image, but you can be sure that your pot will be one of a kind due to the variations caused by the firing process.
Health & Safety
This pot is made using the tools and techniques that ancient potters would have used during this era. As this is an unglazed pot with a porous surface, it will absorb some of the flavours during the cooking process or when used as food storage, which does add to the taste of future dishes. However, it does also mean that this pot does not meet modern Health and Safety standards, and therefore, we do not advise that you use it for cooking or storing foodstuffs. When ancient cooks used these pots, they relied on applying sufficient heat to the pot and contents to ensure that the heat-killed all bacteria. Heating to over 70°C for at least 10 minutes would have killed most disease-causing bacteria, and temperatures of 100°C would do even more.
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