Most reconstructions I have seen tend to show red roof tile. However there is a whole range of colour generally cover by the term ‘buff’ which basically goes from pale red to yellow. There are quite a few which seem to hover around the border, and it can depend on how wet a tile is (and the ambient light in which you were working) whether you can categorise it as red or yellow ( or something in between ). Coding by Munsell can only take you so far – at some point you have to make a decision about how to group fabrics if you are doing a higher level analysis.
In Beirut I just used the two colours red and yellow (I would introduce a pale category if I was repeating the exercise) – mainly because one of the field specialists ( Tony) mentioned that he had noted a set of yellow tegulae with red imbrex from a dump deposit – hinting at a ‘nice’’ raspberry ripple’ pattern. So that was the original framing of what I was looking for in terms of colour. I never did find solid evidence of the raspberry ripple roof, but it did become clear that there was pattern in the basic colour difference – in the Hellenistic deposits and the Byzantine deposits the yellow roof tile correlated strongly with public buildings ( Gymnasium, bathhouses, colonnaded streets etc) whilst in the Roman period there was no real differentiation.. Some of this may be down to the clay used by various suppliers, but given the similarity in the fabric s apart from the colours I think that there is a deliberate choice about colour going on by the ancient builders and architects.
So now I try to split into slightly more colour categories, but not to many to making analysis impossible(!) and am trying to correlate with the use of external patterns on imbrex – something I also touched on in my thesis . One aspect of the ancient city in the East that does interest me is how much activity there would have been ( especially in the summer) during dawn and dusk ( when different textures of roof would have been most visible) compared to midday – when its too hot to be outside. And of course this leads me back to one of my perennial favourites – about reconstructing the roof scape of the past and perhaps the legibility of a city and understanding some of the social constraints echoed in the architecture of a particular time.