Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Samian Research

[First posted in AWOL 4 October 2013, updated 19 July 2017]

Samian Research
The Website comprises a suite of databases concerned with samian ware. Their aim is to standardize the recording and publishing of samian ware in such a way that the data is available both for comaparative identification, and more significantly for scientific analysis using statistical and mapping tools. All have their individual search masks appropriate to the questions likely to require resolution. The databases comprise the following:
- Names on samian ware
- Name marked decorated vessels
- Ovolo Vessels
These databases have been developed historically as 'stand alone' applications. At some future date it would be desirable to achieve a complete cross-index, but this is beyond the current capacit y of the contributors.

Names on samian ware

As a result of a co-operation agreement between the Universities of Reading and Leeds together with the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, the life-long study made by Brian Hartley and Brenda Dickinson of the stamps and signatures on samian ware has also become available on the database. They were originally published as a series of books (Institute of Classical Sudies, London, from 2008 onwards), and replaces the Index of Potters' Stamps (Oswald, 1931).

Ovolo vessels

This database is presently devoted to South Gaulish decorated samian ware which has an ovolo. The illustrations of decorated ware have been taken from scanned rubbings where possible, to ensure accuracy and a fair representation of the condition of the vessel concerned. The principles employed can be extended to other production centres when specialists are available to enter the necessary data.

Name-marked vessels

These vessels carry either potters' stamps or signatures. Data capture started with the name-marked decorated products of the South Gaulish samian industry of the first century AD., and has mainly come from the international Pegasus research group led by Geoffrey Dannell, and the work of Allard Mees (Mees 1995). Additional materials came from the records of Marinus Polak (Radboud University Nijmegen), Peter Webster (Cardiff University) and Alain Vernhet (CNRS Millau - F). The Lezoux archive of Brian Hartley was added with the outstanding help of Robert Hopkins. Products from Rheinzabern were added by Allard Mees, and it is hoped that the database can be extended over time to include all of the other main production centres of Gaul and Germany.

Technical backgrounds

The RGZM database is running on an Adobe Coldfusion server. On some query result pages, plugins (Flash, Java) are required. The database concept and most of the programming code was done by Allard Mees. But when it became tricky, Guido Heinz was always available to provide a solid technical solution.
Paul Tyers did the scripting to migrate the original books into Excel format. Also the Samian font to display the special characters was designed by him.

Restricted Access

Some parts of this database still have restricted access. In order to protect the commercial interests of the book publishers, data output of the Guest accounts may be limited by omitting fields like images, dating and literature or are incomplete concerning the number of output records. It is planned to open the database for general use in Summer 2016.


Without the help from Wendy and Robert Hopkins, Katja Hölzl, Ulrike Kessel and many others, these digitised versions of hitherto scattered archives would not have been processed so rapidly.

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