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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel


Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC


Liparian amphorae (LIP AM)

Three samples

Previously this type has been known as the Richborough 527 amphora or Peacock & Williams Class 13.

General appearance

This is a consistently green-cream (8/2-8/3) fabric, occasionally with a pale yellow (2.5YR 8/4) cast. It is very hard fired with harsh surfaces and a hackly fracture. The vessel, with ribbed body and distinctive indicators, is readily identifiable.

Hand specimen

The fabric is exceptionally coarse with large (c 0.2-9.0mm) ill-sorted multi-coloured rounded to angular igneous rocks (red, grey and black) of varying texture which are common and frequently break the surface. Rounded volcanic glass is also common in most samples (0.4–3.5mm), while black accessory minerals are sparse (0.3–0.6mm). Attributes which vary from sample to sample are common rounded calcareous matter, including microfossils (0.2–0.3mm), and the matrix which ranges from silty to slightly coarser. Although a wide range of variability exists from sherd to sherd in the hand specimen, the underlying constituents are uniform when viewed in thin section.

Thin section

An isotropic calcareous clay, containing sparse to common subangular to subrounded inclusions of lava and volcanic glass, up to 5.0mm. Subangular grains of greenish pyroxene, amphibole, twinned or untwinned lath-shaped feldspar and biotite are sparse. A single large subangular grain of polycrystalline quartz, c 5.0mm, and a quartz-feldspar-mica rock fragment are also present in this section. Sparse to common silt-grade material consists largely of quartz, mica and feldspar.


Recent survey work has located dumps of overfired pottery, thought to be kiln debris, on the Aeolian Island of Lipari. In both form and fabric these sherds provide a good match for Peacock & Williams Class 13 (Borgard & Cavalier 2003).


Museum of London


Museum of London


Arthur, P, 1989 On the origins of Richborough form 527, in Amphores romaines et histoire économique: dix ans de recherche, Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 114, 249–56, Rome

Borgard, P, 1994 L’origine Liparote des amphores ‘Richborough 527’ et la détermination de leur contenu, SFECAG. Actes du Congrès de Millau, 197–202

Borgard, P, & Cavalier, M, 2003 The Lipari origin of the ‘Richborough 527’, J Roman Pottery Stud 10, 96-106

Cavalier, M, 1994 Les amphores Richborough 527. Découverte d’un atelier à Portinenti (Lipari, Italie), SFECAG. Actes du Congrès de Millau, 189–96

Formenti, F, 1992a Annexe 2. Analyse de l’enduit interne d’une amphore Richborough 527, in Nîmes, les amphores de la rue de Condé (F Laubenheimer, M Schwaller & L Vidal), in Les amphores en Gaule: production et circulation (ed F Laubenheimer), Centre de Recherches d’Histoire Ancienne 116, 148, Paris

Peacock, D P S, 1977c Roman amphorae: typology, fabric and origins, in Méthodes classiques et méthodes formelles dans l’étude des amphores, Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 32, 261–78, Rome

Pearce, B W, 1968 Roman coarse ware, in Fifth report on the excavations of the Roman fort at Richborough, Kent (ed B W Cunliffe), Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London 23, 117–24

Williams, D F, & Arthur, P, 1991 Roman amphora form Richborough 527: a continuing petrological study, in Recent developments in ceramic petrology (eds A Middleton & I Freestone), British Museum Occ Pap 81, 389–98

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 74: Fresh sherd break of LIP AM (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 74: Fresh sherd break of LIP AM (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 74.1: Photomicrograph of LIP AM (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 74.1: Photomicrograph of LIP AM (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm)

Plate 74.2: Photomicrograph of LIP AM (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 74.2: Photomicrograph of LIP AM (PPL) (width of field 1.74 mm)

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