Terracotta jug

Period: Late Imperial

Date: ca. A.D. 220–250

Culture: Roman

Medium: Terracotta; African Red Slip Ware

Dimensions: 6 1/16in. (15.4cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.383


The distinctive shape, fabric, and decoration of this vessel mark it as a product of the North African pottery industry, based in what is now Tunisia, which exported its wares widely throughout the Mediterranean. The sides of the vessel are decorated with applied motifs, produced from molds or stamps; between the vertical palm branches is a crouching figure wearing a Phrygian cap and holding a square object, while on the other side is an animal with its head turned back. It is unclear what these figures represent, but on other similar jugs they are more clearly associated with wild beast fights in the arena. The vessels may, therefore, have served a special purpose– for example, to hold drinks for spectators at shows in the Roman amphitheater.