Archaic Graffiti

Several fragments of archaic graffiti have been found in the Palace of Balbo (fig. 1) dating from the late thirteenth and the first half of the fourteenth centuries.

Fig. 1 - Luogosanto, Palace of Baldu: fragment of archaic graffiti from Savona (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 2 - Luogosanto, Palace of Baldu: fragments of archaic graffiti from Savona (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).

This pottery was intended to be used as tableware, it was produced in central and northern Italy from the last quarter of the twelfth century and exported all over the Mediterranean: it is characterised by the decoration made with the tip of an instrument on the still raw object, then coated with a layer of clear engobe on which the glazing was laid after firing. The artefacts could have various shapes and decorations, usually yellow and green (fig. 3, see fig. 4).

Fig. 3 - Luogosanto, Palace of Baldu: fragments of engraved pottery from Savona patterned with a meshed motif (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 4 - Sassari, Vicolo di Via Duomo: fragment of engraved pottery from Savona patterned with a meshed motif (XIII century), (from FIORI 2013, p. 67, n. 3).

Graffiti pottery was revived in medieval Italy thanks to imports of similar materials produced in the Byzantine environment, through the trade by Pisa and Genoa during the twelfth century. During the thirteenth century, craftsmen, especially in the towns of Liguria, took over this technique and created their own decorative motifs.


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  • R. CARTA, Graffite di area tirrenica, in R. MARTORELLI, D. MUREDDU (a cura di), Archeologia urbana a Cagliari. Scavi in Vico III Lanusei (1996-1997), Cagliari 2006, pp. 237-242.
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