Ancient Greek Pottery

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    Alabastron

    Ancient Greek pottery alabastron, a long vessel used to hold perfumed oils for use after bathing.
    Ancient Greek pottery alabastron, a long vessel most likely used to hold perfumed oils for use after bathing. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    A Wealth of Pottery Traditions and History

    As potters today, the history of our craft and art can inspire us, lead us to try new techniques, and open up creative possibilities. The ancient Greek civilizations developed a myraid of pottery forms and traditions. In this image gallery, we will explore just a sampling of some of that rich tradition.

    The alabastron (pl. alabastra) is a long-bodied vessel, with a wide flattened rim and a rounded bottom. Alabastra are usually handleless, although some examples have eyes or lugs by which thread could be attached. They seem to have been primarily used to hold perfumed oil by women after bathing.

    Attic white-ground black-figure alabastron, ca. 540 BC. Signed by Pasiades, Group of the Paidikos.
    Alabastra
    H. 3 ¾ in. (9.7 cm), Diam.1 ½ in. (3.9 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Attic Amphora

    Ancient Greek pottery amphora from Attica, made using the black-figure technique.
    Ancient Greek pottery amphora from Attica, made using the black-figure technique. Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

    An ancient Greek amphora from Attica using the black-figure technique and made between 515 and 500 BC by the Rycroft Painter. It shows Heracles throwing the Erymanthian Boar onto Eurystheus, who is cowering in a jar. The goddesses Artemis (left) and Athena (right) contemplate the scene.

    Attic Amphora Showing Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
    Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

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    Black Figure Amphora

    Ancient Greek pottery black-figure amphora made in Athens about 520 - 500 BC.
    Ancient Greek pottery black-figure amphora made in Athens about 520 - 500 BC. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Black-figure amphora made in Athens about 520 - 500 BC. This piece is attributed to the vase painter Psiax and signed on the rim by Andokides the potter.

    Black-Figured Amphora Showing Dionysius and Two Satyrs
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Neck-Amphora

    Ancient Greek pottery neck-amphora, one of the many types of amphorae, or storage jars.
    Ancient Greek pottery neck-amphora, one of the many types of amphorae, or storage jars, that has been identified. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Amphorae (pl. of amphora) were designed for storage. Over time, more than 66 distinct types of amphorae came to be developed. One of these types was the neck-amphora, such as this one.

    Thought to be from Capua, ca. 560 BC
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Neck-Amphora 2

    Ancient Greek pottery neck amphora now residing at the British Museum in London.
    Ancient Greek pottery neck-amphora now residing at the British Museum in London. Image Courtesy of Jon Worth ©2006

    Another neck-amphora. Although there was such a diversity within the types of amphorae, certain types did become very standardized. One of these was the wine amphora, which was standardized to hold 41 quarts (39 liters). These particular amphorae are the root of the Roman Empire’s standard measure, the amphora quadrantal.
    British Museum, London
    Image Courtesy of Jon Worth © 2006

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    Amphora Shwowing a Swordsman

    Ancient Greek pottery neck amphora showing a sowrdsman.
    Ancient Greek pottery neck amphora showing a sowrdsman. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    This Attic red-figure neck-amphora shows a young man brandishing a sword, ca. 470 BC. This vessel was found at Nola and was decorated by the Providence Painter.
    H. 13 in. (33.3 cm), Diam. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Amphora Decoration

    Ancient Greek pottery black-figured amphora decorated with dancing satyrs and maenads.
    Ancient Greek pottery black-figured amphora decorated with dancing satyrs and maenads. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    This black-figure amphora is decorated with a frieze of dancing satyrs and maenads. It was made in Athens between 540 - 510 BC and the decoration is attributed to Painter N. The amphora itself is signed by Nikosthenes the potter.

    Note the handles are not the more usual rounded form. Instead, this amphora has ribbon handles.

    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Corinthian Amphoriskos

    Ancient Greek pottery amphoriskos, or small jug, showing animals and a siren.
    Ancient Greek pottery amphoriskos, or small jug, showing animals and a siren. This amphoriskos was made in Corinth. Image Courtesy of Loïc Evanno/Wikimedia Commons

    An amphoriskos is a small to very small version of the amphora. It was often used to hold oils and perfumes. This one is decorated with animals and a siren and is from Corinth. It is in the Middle Corinthian style, ca. 600–575 BC.
    H. 6 ¼ in. (16.5 cm), Diam. 3 ¾ in. (9.7 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Loïc Evanno/Wikimedia Commons

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    Shell Amphoriskoi

    Ancient Greek pottery amphoriskos formed in the shape of seashells.
    Ancient Greek pottery amphoriskos formed in the shape of seashells. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    These Attic amphoriskoi (the plural of amphoriskos) are formed in the shape of seashells and date from the 4th century BC.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Pyriform Aryballos

    Ancient Greek pottery aryballos, a small jug used to carry perfumes and oil.
    Ancient Greek pottery aryballos, a small jug used to carry perfumes and oil. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    This pyriform aryballos is from Corinth, in a protocorinthian style, ca. 630 BC. the upper band shows galloping horses and the lower band shows an owl. Most aryballoi (pl. of aryballos) are small spherical or globular flasks with a narrow neck used to contain perfume or oil. They were often depicted in vase paintings as being used by athletes bathing. In these depictions, the vessel is sometimes attached by a strap to the athlete's wrist or is hung by this strap from a peg on the wall.
    H. 3 in. (8.2 cm), Diam. 1 ¼ in. (3.3 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Askos

    Ancient Greek pottery askos, a flask form developed from animal-skin wine sacks.
    Ancient Greek pottery askos, a flask form developed from animal-skin wine sacks. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    This Attic red-figure askos has Pegasus on one side and the Chimera on the other, created ca. 420–410 BC. Askoi (plural) are generally small, round vessels with a flat bottom and an over-arching handle that joins the obliquely-angled neck. They may have developed as a form from animal-skin wine sacks. Although many askoi were functional, many were also produced as non-functional grave goods.

    Although there are the red-figures, this askos has a large area left undecorated other than a burnished black slip. Throughout the history of ancient Greek pottery, a lot of plainly decorated pottery was made. Some of this was coarse and used for utilitarian tasks, but much was also made with a fine eye to craftsmanship.

    From the sixth century BC, finely made plain pottery was increasing made, reaching a peak in Athens during the second half of the 5th century. Many of the blackware shapes mirrored the metalsmithing traditions, rather than the figured-pottery traditions. Blackware came into wide use during the Hellenistic and early Roman period throughout the Mediterranean, including central and southern Italy, which had a number of Greek colonies and strongly influenced by Greek arts and culture.
    H. 5 ½ in. (14.2 cm), Diam. 7 ¾ in. (20.3 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Calyx-Krater

    Ancient Greek pottery calyx krater, a vessel used to mix water into wine.
    Ancient Greek pottery krater, a vessel used to mix water into wine, in the calyx, or flower-shaped, form. Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen ©2007

    The shape, especially the protruding handles set low on the body, spreads out like the cup of a flower, hence the name. (A calyx is the group of leaves --- usually green ---that are directly under a flower’s petals and just above the stem.) The calyx-krater pottery form was most likely invented by Exekias. Exekias was a potter and vase-painter who worked in Athens from about 550 to 525 BC.

    This red-figure piece uses the traditional single ground-line to present figures of wrestlers and audience.
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen ©2007

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    Column-Krater

    Ancient Greek pottery column krater in the red-figure technique and created between 480 and 470 BC.
    Ancient Greek pottery column krater in the red-figure technique and created between 480 and 470 BC. Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

    This column-krater is from Attica, and was decorated by the Triptolemus Painter using the red-figure technique. it was made between 480 and 470 BC and shows a maenad that is being pursued by a satyr (on the opposite side).
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain
    Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

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    Cycladic Jug

    Ancient Greek pottery cycladic jug with a high spout and two nipples done in relief.
    Ancient Greek pottery cycladic jug with a high spout and two nipples done in relief. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    This high-spouted jug is decorated with two relief nipples and a dark painted decoration on a white background. It is from the Middle Cycladic period, between 1800-1550 BC and was possibly produced on Melos, one of the islands in the Cyclades.

    The Cyclades are an island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece. The Cycladic civilization flourished at about the same time as the early Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, ca. 3000-2000 BC.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Dinos

    Ancient Greek pottery dinos, a large, deep bowl with a small, rounded lip and a rounded bottom.
    Ancient Greek pottery dinos, a large, deep bowl with a small, rounded lip and a rounded bottom. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Attic black-figure dinos, ca. 540 BC, decorated with animals. Dinosa (the plural of dinos) are large, deep bowls with a small, rounded lip and a rounded bottom, often requiring a stand. They were often used as mixing bowls and were sometimes given as prizes in competitions.
    H. 8 ¾ in. (22.5 cm), Diam. 12 ½ in. (31.8 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Epichysis

    Ancient Greek pottery epichysis, a vessel used for pouring wine.
    Ancient Greek pottery epichysis, a vessel used for pouring wine and characterized by long neck and spout, with a high looped handle. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Epichysis made in Apulia and decorated in the Gnathia style using multiple colors, ca. 325–300 BC. These vessles were used for pouring wine and are characterized by a long neck and spout, with a high looped handle.
    H. 6 ¼ in. (16.3 cm), Diam. 3 ¾ in. (9.7 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Gamikos

    Ancient Greek pottery gamikos used in the marriage ceremony to sprinkle water on the bride.
    Ancient Greek pottery gamikos (many are also known as lebes gamikos) used in the marriage ceremony to sprinkle water on the bride. Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen ©2007

    A white-ground gamikos (probably a lebes gamikos which used in marriage rites) depicting mythological animals including harpies, sphinxes, and gorgons. White-ground ware was fragile and generally reserved for special objects, such as small oil bottles or funerary pottery. It was produced from about 570 BC through the 400’s BC in Athens. The technique was possibly exported to Etruria in the central area of the Italian peninsula.
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen ©2007

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    Hydria

    Ancient Greek pottery hydria, a jug specifically created to carry and pour water.
    Ancient Greek pottery hydria, a jug specifically created to carry and pour water. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    A red-figure hydria made in Paestumhydria and decorated by the vase painter, Python, ca. 360–350 BC. This hydria depicts a satyr and woman.
    H. 10 ¼ in. (26.3 cm), Diam. 7 ½ in. (19.3 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Decoration on a Hydria

    Close up showing details of the decorations on an ancient Greek pottery hydria.
    Close up showing details of the decorations on an ancient Greek pottery hydria. Image Courtesy of sergeant killjoy © 2007

    Hydria were specifically formed for carrying water. They had three handles: two horizontally oriented handles set on opposite sides of the pot’s body, and one vertical handle set in between the other two. The vertical handle was used in pouring.

    The painting on this hydria depicts a charioteer and his team of horses surrounded by a musician and others.
    Santa Barbara Museum of Art
    Image Courtesy of sergeant killjoy © 2007

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    Kantharos

    Ancient Greek pottery kantharos, or deep drinking cup with two pronounced handles.
    Ancient Greek pottery kantharos, or deep drinking cup with two pronounced handles. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    This Boeotian black gloss kantharos was made between 450–425 BC. Kantharoi (plural) were deep drinking vessels with two very high handles. They usually, but not always, also have a tall stemmed foot.
    H. 5 ¼ in. (13.7 cm), Diam. 5 in. (13.1 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Kernos

    Ancient Greek pottery kernos, a vessel used to hold multiple offerings at one time.
    Ancient Greek pottery kernos, a vessel used to hold multiple offerings at one time. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Cycladic kernos, ca. 2000 BC, found in a tomb in Melos. Kernoi (plural) were used to hold multiple offerings at one time and mainly date from the Bronze Age.
    H. 7 ¼ in. (19 cm), Diam. 11 ¾ in. (30.30 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Memorial Krater

    Ancient Greek pottery krater memorializing a man at his grave site.
    Ancient Greek pottery krater memorializing a man at his grave site. Image Courtesy of sheldon.martin © 2007

    Attic Geometric krater made about 750 BC in Athens as a monument for a man’s grave. The decorations in the upper area depict the corpse on a bier with mourners. The lower course shows chariots which escorted the funeral party to the grave.
    H. approx. 4 ft (1.23 m)
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of sheldon.martin © 2007

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    Bell-Krater

    Ancient Greek pottery bell krater used to mix water into wine.
    Ancient Greek pottery bell krater used to mix water into wine. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    The bell-krater was the last of the four krater types to develop. Bell-kraters are first seen in the early fifth century and are only decorated in the red-figure style. They are named for their bell-like shape, and usually have small horizontal upturned handles just over halfway up the body, although some early bell-kraters have lugs instead. They are usually footed, but not always. Over the course of the fifth and fourth centuries, the shape became slimmer.

    This Campanian red-figure bell-krater, from Italy ca. 330 BC–320 BC, depicts Orestes and Pylades in Tauris.
    H. 13 in. (33.4 cm), Diam. 13 ¾ in. (35 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Volute-Krater

    Ancient Greek pottery volute krater used to mix water and wine together made between 440 and 450 BC.
    Ancient Greek pottery volute krater used to mix water and wine together made between 440 and 450 BC. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Volute-kraters are named for their tightly curled handles that look like the volutes on Ionic columns. Over the course of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, examples become slimmer. The volute-kraters from South Italy are particularly elaborate.

    This Attic red-figure volute-krater, ca. 450–440 BC, is attributed to the Painter of the Woolly Satyrs. It depicts Actaeon's death. Artemis drives a chariot drawn by a team of deer while to the right a man reports Actaeon's death to his parents Aristaeus and Autonoe.
    H. 20 in. (51 cm), Diam. 13 in. (33.1 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Kyathos

    Ancient Greek pottery kyathos or dipper showing Dionysus and a maenad.
    Ancient Greek pottery kyathos or dipper showing Dionysus and a maenad. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Kyathoi (the plural of kyathos) are small dippers with a single high-slung handle and low foot. This pottery shape was developed in the second half of the sixth century, most likely in the workshop of Nikosthenes, and may have been copied from Etrurian vessels. The development of the kyathos shape may be an example of Athenian potters targeting a particular market.

    This Attic black-figure kyathos, ca. 550–540 BC, shows Dionysos and a maenad.
    H. 5 ¼ in. (13.9 cm), Diam. 3 ½ in. (9.4 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Laconian Kylix

    Ancient Greek pottery kylix, or drink cup, in the style of the Arkesilas Painter.
    Ancient Greek pottery kylix, or drink cup, in the style of the Arkesilas Painter. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Kylixes (plural of kylix) were drinking cups specifically designed to enable drinking wine while in a reclining position. They were used during a drinking party (a "symposium" or "symposion") or other wine- and drinking-related events, such as a komast, which was rather like a drinking parade in honor of teh god of wine, Dionysus.

    This Laconian kylix, ca. 550 BC, is decorated in the manner of the Arkesilas Painter.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Campanian Kylix

    Ancient Greek pottery kylix or drinking cup, circa. 400 - 350 BC.
    Ancient Greek pottery kylix or drinking cup, circa. 400 - 350 BC. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Red earthenware clays were used in the making of most kylixes. After the kylix was formed, the vase painter would decorate the piece with scenes from Greek mythology or everyday life. Since these were cups used in parties, the scenes were light-hearted and often showed dancing, parties, and similar subjects.

    This Campanian kylix is from a Greek colony in southern Italy, ca. 400 - 350 B.C. It is black gloss with applied color. This piece seems unusual in its subdued, simple decoration.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Kylix Interior

    Interior view of an ancient Greek pottery kylix, or drinking cup, done in the white-ground style.
    Interior view of an ancient Greek pottery kylix, or drinking cup, done in the white-ground style. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Painting the interior of a kylix was a true compositional challenge. The tondo, or interior base, presented a circular area in which it could be difficult to place pictorial elements without creating tension with the outer edges of the painting area.

    This white-ground kylix was potted in Euphronios' workshop in Athens, ca. 460 BC. The decoration is attributed to the Pistoxenos Painter and depicts Aphrodite, the goddess of love, flying through the skies on her goose.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Aison Kylix

    Ancient Greek pottery kylix signed by the vase painter, Aison.
    Ancient Greek pottery kylix signed by the vase painter, Aison. Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

    This kylix is signed by the vase painter Aison, ca. 425-410 BC. We are seeing the interior view here. The tondo shows the victory of Theseus over the Minotaur in the presence of Athena.
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
    Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

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    Exterior View of Aison Kylix

    Kylixes had broad, relatively shallow bodies with a stem foot and usually with two horizontal handles placed directly opposite from each other. The almost flat interior circle on the interior base of the cup, called the tondo, was the primary surface for painted decoration. However, as we can see here, the exterior might also be elaborately painted.

    On the previous page is the interior view of this kylix. Here we see the exterior of the kylix signed by painter Aison, ca. 425-410 BC. The exterior decorations also show Theseus' deeds.
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
    Image Courtesy of Luis García © 2008

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    Siana Kylix

    Ancient Greek black-figured kylix in the siana style.
    Ancient Greek black-figured kylix in the siana style, in which images were made to take advantage of their gradual revelation as the wine in the cup was drunk. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Siana kylixes were named for the site in Rhodes were the first examples were found. They have a slightly pronounced, fairly tall lip and higher stems than the earlier versions of the kylix.

    A black-figured siana kylix showing Herakles fighting the fish-tailed sea god Triton. It was made in Athens about 570 - 560 BC and is related to the C Painter (possibly decorated by a student).
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Kylix Type B

    Ancient Greek pottery kylix, or wdie drinking cup, in the Type B style.
    Ancient Greek pottery kylix, or wdie drinking cup in the Type B style, which has a longer, thinner base stem. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    When we think of the kylix, this is often the shape we first envision although there are a number of variations. The Type B kylix is a very flowing form, with no breaks in the lines for an offset lip, and although there is a slight demarcation at the juncture of the stem and body, it is very well integrated into the flow of the overall line.

    This is a Attic black-figure Kassel kylix, ca. 540 BC.
    H. 3 ½ in. (8.9 cm), Diam.5 ¼ in. (13.6 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Lagynos

    Ancient Greek pottery lagynos decorated with images of musical instruments.
    Ancient Greek pottery lagynos decorated with images of musical instruments. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Lagynos with music instruments, ca. 150–100 BC, from Cyrenaica. A lagynos was a jug with a body swelling up and outward from the base, a broad shoulder, long neck, and a handle applied along a vertical axis. It was probably used to pour wine.
    H. 6 in. (15.7 cm), Diam. 7 in. (18.2 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Lekanis

    Ancient Greek pottery lekanis, a low bowl form with two horizontal handles and a broad, low foot.
    Ancient Greek pottery lekanis, a low bowl form with two horizontal handles and a broad, low foot. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    An Attic black-glaze lekanis, ca. 450-440 BC. The lekanis (pl. lekanides) is very closely related to the lekane (pl. lekanai). Both names refer to low bowls with two horizontal handles and a broad low foot. The handles are usually ribbon-shaped as if cut from a slab and suggest that these pottery forms are derived from vessels first made in another material. Generally, the lekane is lidless and often undecorated. The lekanis, such as in our example, is shallow and lidded and is often decorated. Lekanides are quite often decorated with scenes of marriage.
    H. 5 in. (13.2 cm), Diam. 7 in. (18 cm), W. 9 ¾ in. (25.3 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Lekythos

    Ancient Greek pottery lekythos, usually used to hold oil or perfume during religious ceremonies.
    Ancient Greek pottery lekythos, usually used to hold oil or perfume during religious ceremonies. This lekythos is attributed to the Sappho Painter. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Lekythoi (plural of lekythos) were used to hold oil or perfume, especially during religious ceremonies. There are several variations in shapes; the cylindrical type, like our example above, was first seen in the last third of the sixth-century and would predominant as the main type of lekythos in the fifth century.

    The cylindrical lekythoi are usually decorated with polychrome figures on a white-ground. Fragments and X-rays reveal that some of these tall lekythoi had a smaller inner chamber which limited the amount of oil that could be held. Decorations on the lekythoi themselves and their discovery at grave sites attest to the importance of these pots as funerary objects.

    This Attic black-figure lekythos, ca. 500 BC, is attributed to the Sappho Painter. It shows Helios (the sun) rising in his quadriga (4-horse chariot)while below his Nyx (Night) drives away to the left and Eos (the goddess of dawn) drives away to the right.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Loutrophoros

    Ancient Greek pottery loutrophoros used to carry water during marriage and funeral ceremonies.
    Ancient Greek pottery loutrophoros, a vessel created to carry water during marriage and funeral ceremonies. This loutrophoros is thought to be by the Analatos Painter. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Loutrophoroi (plural of loutrophoros) were used in marriage ceremonies to hold water. In ancient Greece, marriage was basically the transfer of a girl from one master (kyrios), her father, to another, her man. (There were no specific words in Greek for husband and wife. Aner, "man" is the word that was used where we would use "husband", and gyne, "woman" assumes that to be a woman was to be a wife.)

    A loutrophoros was specially ordered by the new kyrios, the future husband in our terms, to bring water for the bride's bath. Her old life is symbolically washed away using water held in the loutrophoros, changing her status from parthenos (virgin) to gyne (woman).

    Loutrophoroi were also used in funeral rites and were left at the graves of unmarried women. This Protoattic loutrophoros, ca. 680 BC, was found in Athens and is thought to be by the Analatos Painter.
    H. 17 ½ in. (45 cm), Diam. 7 in. (18.4 cm)
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Mastoi Cups

    Ancient Greek pottery mastoi cups. The design shows Persian influence.
    Ancient Greek pottery mastoi cups. The design shows Persian influence. These were made in Athens circa 460 BC and were probably created by Sotades. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Mastoi (plural of mastos) or mastoid cups are named for their resemblance to female breasts. This pair of mastoi are quite influenced by the Persian style. They were made in Athens about 460 BC and were probably potted by Sotades.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Oenochoe

    An ancient Greek pottery jug called an oenochoe in the Louvre, Paris.
    An ancient Greek pottery jug called an oenochoe in the Louvre, Paris. Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen ©2007

    An oenochoe, also spelled oinochoe, is a wine jug. Oenochoai (plural of oenochoe) have a single handle and is usually taller than it is wide. There are many styles of oenochoe, the earliest of which was characterized by S-curved shape from foot to rim.
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Henri Sivonen © 2007

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    Oenochoe Jug

    Ancient Greek pottery oenochoe (jug) with cable and floral patterns on the shoulder.
    Ancient Greek pottery oenochoe (jug) with cable and floral patterns on the shoulder. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    This oenochoe is decorated with cable and floral patterns on its shoulder. It was found at Camirus, Rhodes and dates from the 6th century BC.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Pyxis

    Ancient Greek pottery pyxis, or cosmetic box, with lions, a goat, a bull and a swan.
    Ancient Greek pottery pyxis, or cosmetic box, with lions, a goat, a bull and a swan. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Pyxides (plural of pyxis) were small round lidded boxes used to store trinkets, cosmetics, and ointments. This pyxis is decorated with lions, a goat, a bull and a swan. It is Middle Corinthian, ca. 600 - 575 BC.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Pyxis with Molded Heads

    Ancient Greek pottery pyxis, or cosmetic box, with modeled female heads at the rim.
    Ancient Greek pottery pyxis, or cosmetic box, with modeled female heads at the rim and friezes of lions, sirens, sphinxes, and birds. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    This pyxis has female heads at the rim, probably created in a press mold. Below are panels filled with lions, sirens, sphinxes, and birds. The pyxis is Middle Corinthian, ca 600-575 BC, and is attributed to the Honolulu painter.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Rhyton with Dionysus

    Ancient Greek pottery rhyton in the form of the god of wine, Dionysus.
    Ancient Greek pottery rhyton in the form of the god of wine, Dionysus. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Rhyta (plural of rhyton) are special drinking vessels derived from drinking horns. Originally, rhyta were made to pour wine through, possibly for libations. Eventually, rhyta were made to hold the wine, although many shapes forced the drinker to keep his cup in his hand until it was empty.

    This rhyton was made in Athens between 500 - 490 BC and is in the form of Dionysus. The deity himself holds the horn for drinking.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Dog-Shaped Rhyton

    Ancient Greek rhyton in the shape of a dog.
    Ancient Greek rhyton in the shape of a dog. Rhytons were used for drinking and pouring libations out to the gods. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    This Apulian red-figure rhyton is from a Greek colony in what is today southern Italy, ca. 350-300 B.C. It is molded in the shape of the head of a dog, and on the cup, there is a running satyr.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Ram's-Head Rhyton

    Ancient Greek pottery rhyton in the shape of a ram's head.
    Ancient Greek pottery rhyton in the shape of a ram's head. Rhytons were special drinking vessels and used to pour libations to the gods. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    A rhyton in the form of a ram's head, made in Athens, ca. 470-460 BC, and attributed to Sotades.
    St Giles, London
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Glaux Skyphos

    Ancient Greek pottery skyphos in the glaux style.
    Ancient Greek pottery skyphos in the glaux style, with one handle oriented horizontally and one oriented vertically. Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

    Black-gloss skyphos of the glaux type, which there are two circularly shaped handles, one horizontal handle and one vertical. This glaux skyphos is from Athens, ca. 450–400 BC.
    H. 2 ¾ in. (7.2cm )
    Louvre, Paris
    Image Courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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    Skyphos Decoration

    Detail of the decoration on an ancient Greek pottery skyphos, or deep drinking cup.
    Detail of the decoration on an ancient Greek pottery skyphos, or deep drinking cup. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Skyphoi (plural for skyphos) are deep-bowled drinking vessels with a low foot and two short handles that are usually horizontal (with the exception of the glaux skyphos style).

    This is a detail from a Boeotian, black-figure skyphos decoration. The piece is Mid 4th century BC and is closely related to the Vine Tendril Group. On the obverse is a reclining man and three crones (possibly the Judgement of Paris). On the reverse is an ogress pursuing three pygmies.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Stamnos

    Ancient Greek pottery stamnos from Etruria, in what is today central Italy.
    Ancient Greek pottery stamnos from Etruria, in what is today central Italy. Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

    Stamnoi (plural of stamnos) are broad-shouldered, round-shaped vessels with low feet and necks. They have two horizontal handles which are usually curled upward to some degree. They were especially popular in Eturia and were produced from the late sixth century into the later fifth century, BC. This red-figure stamnos is from Etruria, ca. 360-340 BC. It shows a young flute player riding on a dolphin.
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
    Image Courtesy of Luis García © 2008

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    Statuette of a Standing Woman

    Ancient Greek pottery statuette of a standing woman in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
    Ancient Greek pottery statuette of a standing woman in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

    Greek terracotta statuette of a standing woman, probably Boeotian and made in the late 4th or early 3rd century, BC.
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Image Courtesy of Claire Houck © 2008

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    Statuette of a Siren

    Ancient Greek pottery statuette of a siren from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain.
    Ancient Greek pottery statuette of a siren from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. Image Courtesy of Luis García ©2008

    A terracotta statuette of a siren from Canosa (Magna Græcia), ca. 340-300 BC. The siren is depicted with the legs, wings and tail of a bird, carrying a zither, and rising her right arm over her head (a typical sign of mourning). The statuette may have had a funerary function, with the siren representing a psychopomp, or guide to lead the newly deceased soul on to the afterlife.
    National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
    Image Courtesy of Luis García © 2008