Petrographical and micro-Raman analysis of Terra Sigillata shatters from a Vandalic settlement in North-Eastern Hungary


  • This article is part of the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy special issue entitled “Raman spectroscopy in art and archaeology” edited by Juan Manuel Madariaga and Danilo Bersani.

Krisztian Fintor, University of Szeged, Department of Mineralogy, Geochemistry and Petrology, H-6701, Szeged, P.O. Box 651, Hungary. E-mail:


Micro-Raman spectroscopy is one of the most advanced analytical techniques used in the field of archaeometry investigations. Terra Sigillata is a frequently occurring find from the Roman period; thus, its detailed scientific analysis has a significant impact on archaeological research. Finds recovered from the ‘Barbaricum’ (beyond the area of the Roman Empire) have particular importance because their analysis can contribute to our knowledge about the circumstances and conventions of the trade and transit of such ornaments. The studied samples were found in North-Eastern Hungary (Garadna, Vandalic settlement, 2nd–3rd century), and based on archaeological investigations of the terra sigillata ornaments, they are assumed to be made from manufactories in Rheinzabern, Pfaffenhofen and Westerndorf. Raman analysis indicates that the temper grains of samples from Pfaffenhofen and Westerndorf contain more calcic minerals, including plagioclases and heavy minerals (e.g. augite, diopside, actinolite, apatite and titanite). Conversely, the temper grains of samples from Rheinzabern do not contain plagioclases; their feldspars are almost completely potassium, and only anatase and rutile represent their heavy mineral content. The largest difference between the slip and body can be observed in samples from Westerndorf, while the largest heterogeneity of the slip and body material is observable in samples from Pfaffenhofen. The results indicate the remarkable ability of micro-Raman spectroscopy to contribute to the discrimination of ancient light-clay products. The data obtained from the analysed samples are usable for comparative studies of the pottery. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.