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5.8.4 Resolutions?

Different types of pottery are likely to be subject to different rates of turnover (cf. Orton 1989). We might anticipate that, for various reasons, utilitarian cooking pots used frequently during 'eventful' processes will be subject to a comparatively high turnover, while fine wares such as samian were possibly only used occasionally and perhaps handled with some care as a matter of course, since they will have been comparatively expensive (cf. subsequent sections). At times of special shortage, extra care may have been invested in looking after these items. Hence it is understandable that some of these vessels will have had long biographies, and were only discarded later than other, originally contemporary, items. It is sensible, therefore, to adopt the following view. Firstly, that on the one hand pottery types, including samian types, will have certain date-ranges relating to the period in which similar items most frequently occur in archaeological deposits, this being an aggregate date. Secondly, that there will be 'outliers' from this date-range among sequences, some of which will relate to reworked residual items, but others relating to older vessels that have, perhaps because of intentional care, remained intact/in use until a much later date and only then been subject to discard. Such chronological outliers are normal, and this is particularly true of samian than other (less valued) types.

In their report on the samian from Segontium, King and Millett adopted a chronological threshold for defining residual samian, stating that: '...South Gaulish material is considered residual if it occurs in contexts later than Period 5B [i.e. after c. AD 140] and Central/East Gaulish material is similarly considered residual if it occurs in contexts later than Period 7A [i.e. after the later 3rd century]' (King and Millett 1993, 234). This implicitly allows for 'longer lives' for samian in use than the normal date ranges allocated to individual pieces, which for South Gaulish (La Graufesenque) ware will be no later than c. AD 100/110 and for Central Gaulish (Lezoux) ware c. AD 200 and East Gaulish ware c. AD 260.

The recovery of 'old' coarse ware vessels (not samian) included with burials of the middle and late Roman period in an east London cemetery might be considered (cf. Barber and Bowsher 2000, 122) a parallel to these 'long-lived' samian items. However, pottery from burials should always be considered a separate case as here (cf. Section 9). Barber and Bowsher suggested that these vessels may have been retrieved in some way from earlier graves. Old used pottery, though, is often associated with burials (cf. Section 9). Possibly the traditional view is correct and these vessels represent heirlooms, and some may still have been in everyday use prior to interment.

Finally, by implication, this phenomenon of samian longevity at Portchester and elsewhere raises the possibility of a parallel situation, vis-à-vis Oxford Red Colour Coated wares. Might they too have been similarly 'curated' during the late Roman period and beyond?

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