Greek Vases Term Paper

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Greek vases were make not only in Greece but also in the Aegean islands, on the west coast of Asia minor, south Italy and Sicily. The place where they were made the most was in Athens, where many awesome vases were produced. These were exported to places all around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Greek vases were also produced at many other placces; Corinth, placed an important postion for transportation; Laconia, an area whose capital was Sparta; Boeotia, north-west from Attic; Aegean island suchas Chios, Thasos, Naxos, Rhodes and Crete, Asia Minor such as Miletos and Clazomenai; Apulia, Lucania, Campania and Paestum in South Italy and Sicily.

Greek vases were starting to be produced in Greece no later than 6000BC. In the 18th century, fine vases , with some applied color and naturalistic ornaments called Camares ware, were made in Crete. In Greece mainland, under the influence of Crete. Mycenaean pottery was produced from 13th century to 12th, with simple symmetrical ornaments.

There began to be lots of trade with the Near East in the seventh century, and Greek pottery workshops introduced some ornaments and figures, animals suchas a lion, a panther and birds and monsters suchas a Sphinx and a Harpy, from the arts or the crafts of this country. Markets were occupied by the vases of Corinth, where the black-figure technique “red-figure” was invented and exported all around the Mediterranean sea. But after the development of wall paintings in the middle of the fifth century, the quality of vase-painting declined. Some cities in south Italy and Sicily began to produce the red-figure vases in the late fifth century and they took the market in the Magna Graecia from Athens. Some market places were along the coast of the black sea, but the production of fugured vases ended in the late fourth century, and the south Italian workshop followed. These workshops continued to produce black-glazed or relief potteries.

Greek vases produced after the orientalizing period have figured scenes of everyday life of ancient greek such as sports, banquets, weddings, funerals, and mythological scenes, which is maybe most interesting for us and ancient vase-painters.

Before a vase could be painted the finished pottery neede to be smoothed and polished by a pebble or a wooden tool. Figures ere sketched on the leather-dried surface by a stick of charcoal or lead, sometimes the trace is visible. After the figure was drawn, the inside of it was painted out. Then colors such as white and blown-red were applied. Details were then drawn in by a pointed tool.

Red-figure is a reserved technique of a black figure. The outlines of the figure was drawn and details were painted by a brush or other tools. Then the outside was painted over. This new technique enabled them to draw the lines of different thickness or width.

The vases were fixed by first getting put in a kiln with the whole of the chimney opened. Iron in the clay combine with oxygen and become oxide of iron so the surface of the whole body turned to red. Then the hole of the chimney is closed and the atmosphere of the kiln becomes carbon monoxide, which takes oxygen away from the clay. So the whole surface turns to black. In the last process, the chimney is opened again and the atmosphere turns to carbon dioxide. Reserved clay turns to red again, though the painted part remains black, because small particles obstruct the coombination with oxygen. Control of temperature and timing is needed to produce the color.


Sherratt, Andrew. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Crown Publishers, NY: 1980.

Rowling, Nick. Art Source Book. Chartwell Books, NJ: 1987.

Word Count: 590

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