Discovering the Past Through Ancient Greek Pottery

April 29 2010No Commented

Categorized Under: Uncategorized

{With it’s durable nature, Greek Pottery has been important in the world’s knowledge of the ancient Greek society. Mostly found in the Etruscan Tombs, Greek Vases and Greek Pottery are canvases that paint a portrait of the world of ancient Greece.  While much of ancient Greek art is forever lost, Greek vases offers a glimpse into both the every day life and the mythology of ancient Greece.

Beginning with the Minoan civilization that existed in Crete, the Minoans made remarkable contributions to Greek societ; especially, in the artisanship of pottery and vases. The Minoan potters created pottery for gathering food and storage. Functional necessity became a vehicle for articistic expression, with the potter often inspired by nature to  influence the designs that transformed the piece creating art from what was once only a tool.

As time passed, Minoan’s created vases in forms that were used for specific purposes. For example, the Amphora vase is a swollen vase with a large mouth and two handles. It was used to carry and store oil, wine and other liquids. Painted with grass and flowers, and marine scenes, the Minoan’s created the standard for future designs.

During the Protogeometrical Period, Greek vases were adorned with simplistic designs that consisted mainly of patterns of of circles. The Geometric style followed with new patterns, building upon the latter with wavy lines and triangles. Sometime around the 11th Century, the first images of human figures were seen painted on the Greek vase, and by the end of the artistic era, mythological figures were central to the decorate elements of Greek pottery.

The Orientalizing Period came after trade-links with Syria and the Aegan World. The popularity of human depictions settled during this time, and the artisan used the Greek vase for depicting lions, griffins and sphinx with lotuses as accents.

Through the Corinthian invention, the Greek black-figure process, artists used iron-rich clay that became reddish-orange at high temperatures. They then sketched the design in outline, and filled it with clay. Greek vases would be kiln fired at a temperature of around 800 degress Celsius. After oxidation, the pottery would turn a reddish-orange color. Next, the temperature was raised another 150 degrees, and the vase would turn black. Finally, the kiln vents were opened to allow the oxygen to flow, and the pottery would return to the reddish-orange color, but the paint layer remained black.

The Corinthian used these vases to show images of animal friezes.  It was the Athenian painters who introduced a narrative method, depicting mythological scenes of battle, gods and heroes.

Following the black-figure method, the red-figure method was developed in Athens. Simply, the process is the direct opposite of the black-figure method. Depictions were applied to the Greek vases, but to unfired pieces after they were dried. The Athenians drew outlines on the pottery or vase with a blunt tool. It was removed during the kiln process, but after the contours remained and were filled with a glossy clay mixture.

The Greek innovation for creating pottery resulted in Greek vases that not only inspire potters and artists, but left the world with a path to the past.}

 

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