Ancient Greek Pottery

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When poets, soldiers, statesmen gathered in a mansion in an ancient Greek city for a symposium, jewels adorned their arms and fingers, rich garments made the assemblies gorgeous, flowers filled the air with perfume. When they toasted for their welfare and peace they raised their decorated kylix with delicious red wine diluted in a decorated crater with water.
In art history ceramic art means the art of objects made from clay. The word "ceramics" comes from the Greek keramikos (κεραμικός), meaning "pottery" It includes figures, pottery and tiles. Some are considered fine art and others are only decorative. This art doesn’t include glass or mosaic. Ceramic art is widespread in most cultures world wide, in Greece, Crete, China, Japan and elsewhere. Ceramic objects date as far back as 29,000 BC from an area in the Czech Republic. The earliest pottery comes from caves in China around 18,300 BC.
The potter's wheel was probably invented in Mesopotamia by the 4th millennium BC, but spread across nearly all Eurasia and much of Africa, though it remained unknown in the New World until the arrival of Europeans. Decoration of the clay by incising and painting is found very widely, and was initially geometric, but often included figurative designs from an earlier era.
Figures and ornaments were painted on the body of the vessel using shapes and colors. Delicate contours were incised into the paint before baking, and details could be reinforced and highlighted with opaque colors, usually white and red. The principal centers for this style were initially the commercial city of Corinth, and later Athens. Greek black-figure vases were very popular with the Etruscans, as is evident from frequent imports.
Black-figure painting on vases was the first art style (550-530 BC) to give rise to a significant number of well- known artists. Some are known by their true names, others only by the names given to them by the scientific community. Especially Athens was the home of well-known artists. Some potters introduced a variety of innovations which frequently influenced the work of the painters; sometimes it was the painters who inspired the potters’ originality. Red- as well as black-figure vases are one of the most important sources of mythology, and sometimes also for researching day-to-day ancient Greek life.
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting. It developed in Athens around 530 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of Black-figure vase painting within a few decades. Its modern name is based on the figural depictions in red colour on a black background, in contrast to the preceding black-figure style with black figures on a red background. Because they were created at specific periods, fragments of such pottery found at archaeological sites, help archaeologists date the antiquities they discover with great precision.
Attic red-figure vases were exported throughout Greece and beyond. For a long time, they dominated the market for fine ceramics. Only few Greek cities could compete with Athens in terms of innovativeness, quality and production capacity. Of the red figure vases produced in Athens alone, more than 40,000 specimens and fragments survive today. The study of this style of art has made enormous progress since the 19th century
Some of the most famous pottery artists known by their names were Euphronius, Exekias, Nearchos, Amasis, and others named by scientists, like the painter of Achilles. Types of pottery were the kylix ( a cup for drinking wine), Amphorae ( vessels for carrying olive oil), Kraters ( big open mouth vessels for holding wine in feasts), aryballoi ( very small vases for carrying perfumes) and Lykethoi ( for burial ashes).