Corpus vasorum antiquorum

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Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum ("corpus of ancient vases"; abbreviated CVA) is an international research project for ceramic documentation of the classical area.


CVA is the first and oldest research project of the Union Académique Internationale. The first project meeting was organized by Edmond Pottier in Paris in 1919. The final decision was to publish a comprehensive catalogue of painted ancient Greek vases. He was also the publisher of the first fascicle for the Louvre in 1922. At that time six countries were part of the project. Today the project covers a compendium of more than 100,000 vases located in collections of 26 participating countries. At present day only public collections located in museums are added to the catalogue.

Every participating country is completely responsible for its own scope, while the Union Académique Internationale in Brussels has the patronage traditionally led by a French scientist. Currently in charge is Juliette de La Genière (fr).

CVA Commissions (selection – more to be added)
Country Current leader Organization since
Austria Claudia Lang-Auinger Austrian Academy of Sciences 1935
Germany Paul Zanker (leader qua position), Stefan Schmidt (real leader) Bavarian Academy of Sciences 1921
Great Britain Dr Thomas Mannack British Academy 1925[1]
Switzerland Hans Peter Isler Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
Fragment of a pithos (large storing jar) with abstract vegetative decoration, found in Cnossos. Terracotta, Palace Style, Late Minoan II (ca. 1450-1400 BC). Louvre, first vase published by CVA

The CVA publishes Greek and Italian ceramics of the classical period between the seventh millennium B.C. and the late Antiquity (third-fifth century A.D.). The publications are divided into fascicles by country and museum. By the end of 2007 a total of 350 volumes consisting of 40,000 fascicles were published. One of the largest amounts of publications was done in Germany: 84 volumes and 3 supplements.

Since 2004 all textual descriptions and images are freely accessible as a web-based database (CVA Online). Languages allowed for publication are English, French, German and Italian. Further publication rules have to be fulfilled. This often requires a restoration of the actual objects. For example: fragments have to be distinctively different from restored parts. For older restorations this is often not the case.

The documentation of a vessel is done in several steps. First the vessel is described in its overall condition followed by an iconographic interpretation. If possible an artist or a workshop will be determined. Integral parts of the documentation are photographs and hand-drawings depending on the condition of the vessel and the projects budget. The Austrian commission used for the first-time of the CVA a 3D-Scanner for documentation of vessel shapes.[2][3] A follow-up project using 3D-Acquisition has been granted.[4] The last step of the documentation is a chronologic classification.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hubert Mara; Elisabeth Trinkl; Paul Kammerer; Ernestine Zolda (2007). "3D-Acquisition and Multi-Spectral Readings for Documentation of Polychrome Ceramics in the Antiquities Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna". Proceedings of the International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting (ICHIM).  External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ Kunsthistorisches Museum - Antikensammlung (2009-12-09), Scientific projects of the KHM: Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum KHM Band 5 (Attisch rotfigurige Vasen Band 4, online services and annual report  External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) (06.10.2007), Attische Keramik im KHM Wien, online services  Check date values in: |date= (help)


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