Typology of Greek Vase Shapes

Typology of Greek Vase Shapes

Pottery in Greece has a long history and the form of Greek Vase Shapes has had a continuous evolution from the Minoan period down to the Hellenistic era. As Gisela Richter puts it the forms of these vases find their “happiest expression” in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, yet it has been possible to date vases thanks to the variation in a form’s shape over time. A fact particularly useful when dating unpainted or glazed black-ware.

The task of naming Greek vase shapes is by no means a straightforward one. The endeavour by archaeologists to match vase forms with those names that have come down to us from Greek literature began with Panofka’s 1829 book "Recherches sur les veritables noms des vases grecs", his confident assertion that he had rediscovered the ancient nomenclature was quickly disputed by Gerhard and Letronne. A few surviving vases were labelled with their names in antiquity, these included a hydria depicted on the François Vase and a kylix that declares “I am the decorated kylix of lovely Phito” (BM, B450), amongst others. Also some vases are shown in use within vase paintings, this is some help in judging the descriptions of them. However much of our written information about Greek pots comes from late writers, Athenaios, Pollux and other lexicographers who described vases unknown to them and as such are often contradictory and confused. With those caveats the names of Greek vases are fairly well settled even if such names are a matter of convention rather than historical fact.

The following vases are mostly Attic, from the 5th and 6th centuries, and follow the Beazley naming convention.

Key terms

Vase shapes

See also

* Pottery of ancient Greece
* Greek Terracotta Figurines
* Art in Ancient Greece
* Ancient Greek sculpture
* Minoan pottery
* Black-figure pottery
* Red-figure pottery
* List of Greek Vase Painters


* Gisela M. A. Richter, Marjorie J. Milne, "Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases", Metropolitan Museum of art, New York, 1935.

External links

* [http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/BeazleyAdmin/Script2/PotProfiles5.htm Beazley Archive]
* [http://www2.ocn.ne.jp/~greekart/vase/s_menu_e.html Comprehensive List of Vase Shapes]

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