PhD research: Code Red. A key to the re-classification of African Red Slip Ware

October 2021 to September 2026
pottery classification
African Red Slip Ware
provenance studies
Research fields
History and Archaeology

African Red Slip Ware (ARS) was produced from the 1st to the 7th century AD in the Roman provinces of modern-day Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya and exported to the whole Mediterranean on a massive scale. Its abundance at innumerable archaeological sites has led to a vast diversity of approaches. Whereas it is commonly clear which sherd is ARS and which is not, the detailed classification of ARS is still controversially discussed, thus, complicating the interpretation of ARS finds both in terms of chronology and provenance, as well as the reconstruction of socio-economic networks. Most disagreement centers on dividing ARS into the traditional classes A, C, and D and their consistency and applicability in archaeological practice. Initially, they were created as a typo-chronological system to detect general changes in ARS production. The classes were not meant to define the exact origin but were later used and further developed to do so. The excessive extension and subgrouping of the classes with vague verbalized descriptions have become cryptic and inadequate to serve as sorting categories and communication tools. The need for revision has been frequently expressed.

This study will take the lead from this expressed need by focusing on a coherent characterization of ARS according to individual workshops and establishing a multilevel (re-)classification that can be the key to a higher degree of standardization and consistency in determining different ARS productions.