Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek Art

Ancient Greek Pottery

The durable composition of ancient Greek Pottery has allowed it to survive, intact and in pieces, for thousands of years. Greek pottery and pottery fragments are some of the most valuable tools archeologists use for the study of ancient Greek history. Pottery in Ancient Greece was painted with both abstract designs and realistic murals depicting everyday Greek life. Ancient Greek paintings and structures did not survive as well as Ancient Greek Pottery, so the paintings on the jugs, vases and pots provide the majority of the information archeologists discovered about ancient Greek life.

Protogeometrical and Geometrical Pottery (1050 - 900BC)

Before about 1050 B.C., the Greek islands were occupied by people called Mycenaeans. Their culture collapsed and Greece went through a "dark" period, much like the Dark Ages in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Historians call the period from 1050 to 900 B.C. the protogeometrical (Earliest phase of geometric art in Greece ) period after the decorations on pottery from this time. During this period, the Greeks resumed cultural activities, including pottery-making. The production of pottery tells archeologists that the people had become comfortable and settled enough to not only make pottery and decorate it with fairly intricate designs, but to make the necessary paint and brushes as well. After the 9th century B.C., the geometric pottery designs became more intricate and complex. Around the 7th century B.C., human figures began to appear on the pottery.

Orientalized Pottery (900 – 600BC)

The orientalized pottery painting style originated in eastern Greece in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. Trade with the countries of Asia Minor influenced the development of this style, characterized by flowing vines, flowers and animals. Designs from the southern city of Corinth soon spread throughout Greece, and the orientalized pottery painting style evolved to become less realistic. Corinthian art depicted silhouettes and abstract designs rather than realistic plant and animal figures.

Black Figure (c. 600BC)

Black Figure pottery is one of the most recognizable Greek pottery designs emerged. Black figure pottery bears iconic representations of figures from Greek mythology. The mainly black figures are more intricate than mere silhouettes, with facial features, clothing and weaponry depicted in reds and yellows. Zeus, Achilles, Athena and other gods and mythological figures adorn the pots from this period.

Panathenic Amphora

Panathenic_Amphora This Panathenaic amphora (Vase) would have been usually filled with sacred olive oil in Athens, and awarded as a prize to a winner of the Panathenaic games held in Athens every four years. Every Panathenaic amphora was specifically made to a standardized shape and capacity of one metretes (approximately 42 quarts / 10.5 Liters), and was decorated in black-figure technique.

Later Designs

From the 6th century B.C. on, a variety of pottery styles and artistic designs continued to develop. Artists discovered new pigment materials to make paints, and potters developed firing methods to glaze and finish the pottery. Red figure pottery followed black figure using many of the same designs and techniques. The white ground technique used the white background that came from white pottery, with paintings in multiple colors. Greek pottery making declined during the Hellenistic period, which stretched until about the 1st century B.C. when Rome was replacing Greece as the center of the civilized world.


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