Terracotta mortarium fragment
late 2nd century A.D.
Terracotta; East Gaulish terra sigillata
Other: 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Mortaria were the grinding and mixing bowls commonly used by the Romans. Most were made in plain, unslipped wares, and tiny bits of grit were often added to the inside of the bowl to aid the grinding process. This fragmentary rim, however, is an example in finer ware, terra sigillata, decorated with barbotine, or relief decoration. Such vessels suggest that some food preparation was carried out at the table, in front of the host and his dining companions.
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