Typology of Greek vase shapes

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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 plain black-gloss 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, whose 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). Vases in use are sometimes depicted in vase paintings, which can help scholars interpret written descriptions. Much of our written information about Greek pots comes from such late writers as Athenaios and Pollux and other lexicographers who described vases unknown to them, and their accounts are often contradictory or 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[edit]

Key terms
Foot Lip
Disk
Flaring
Echinus
Inverted Echinus
 
In several degrees
 
Torus

Vase shapes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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