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                                      GEOMETRIC PERIODS OF POTTERY
geometric amphora


In the Protogeometric period (1050-900 BC) vase shapes that had survived down to the Submycenaean period (stirrup jar, squat afabastron, etc.) disappeared and new shapes made their appearance, such as the amphora, trefoil oinochoe and lekythos, krater, kantharos, skyphos and pyxis.

During the Protogeometric period  the shapes of the vessels have eliminated the fluid nature of the Mycenaean, the form has become strict and simple and they are divided into horizontal decorative bands with a few written geometric shapes within, usually concentric cycles or semicircles engraved with a caliper.

Two important innovations, the quick potters wheel and the compass with the multiple brush, resulted in an increase in the output of pottery and the achievement of an improved aesthetic appearance.
The decoration of the vases is characteristically austere. Most of the surface is covered by black glaze, and the decoration is confined to the shoulder (closed shapes) or the zone at the handles (open shapes).


Systems of concentric circles or semicircles, groups of oblique, parallel lines, hatched triangles and lozenges. rows of solid triangles, etc., are the main motifs of the period. The horse also makes its first appearance as a pictorial motif at this time.


In the Early Geometric period (900-850 BC) almost the entire surface of the vase is covered by black glaze and the decorative motifs are set in panels and zones on the neck,shoulder and belly. Curvilinear motifs are no longer popular. Triangles and zigzags are the dominant ornaments during this period, and the meander.
the predominant motif of the Geometric period make its appearance.

The height of the vessels has been increased, while the decoration is limited around the neck until the middle of the body of the vessel. The remaining surface is covered by a thin layer of clay, which during the cooking takes a dark, shiny, metallic color.

As to the previous period, there are occasional representations of animals such as the horse,which is rendered according to Geometric perceptions and in silhouette.


The Middle Geometric period (850-760 BC) is characterised by the rapid development of trade and the revival of contacts both with the East and between different Greek city-states. The characteristic feature of the Attic vases of this period is the complete harmony between shape and decoration.

The decorative zones appear multiplied by creating a laced mesh, while the meander dominates and is placed in the most important area, in the metope which is arranged between the handles.

The decoration tends to cover the entire surface of the vase in zones separated from each other by vertical groups of fines, creating panels. Animals, such as horses and water birds, are now painted more frequently. and the human figure becomes an established motif. The first narrative scenes make their appearance during the Middle Geometric II period (800-760 BC).


The late phase of the Geometric style is characterised mainly by monumental funerary vases. Huge imposing amphorae and kraters stood as grave markers in the Dipylon Cemetery. Their robust tectonic shape is emphasised by ornaments set in geometrically constructed zones. They usually depict scenes of a body lying in state (prothesis) or being carried out to the grave in a funeral procession (ekphora).

Vases are adorned by multifigural scenes of everyday life, such as naval and land battles hunting, and dances at religious ceremonies, confined within zones or panels. Geometric motifs are still found, of course, amongst them chequer-board pattern, lozenges, complex meanders, leaves, and rosettes, arranged vertically or horizontally.

People and animals depicting geometrically in a dark glossy color, while the remaining vessel is covered by strict zones of meanders, crooked lines, circles, swastikas, in the same graphical concept. Later, the main tragic theme of the wail declined, the compositions eased, the geometric shapes have become more freely, and areas with animals, birds, scenes of shipwrecks, hunting scenes, themes from mythology or the Homeric epics led geometric pottery into more naturalistic expressions.

In the final years of the 8th c. BC can be observed a relaxation of the strict discipline and symmetry characteristic of Geometric pottery, with respect to both shapes and decoration.
Amphorae of smaller size, with vertical handles on the shoulders and decorated with relief snakes, replace imposing monumental vases as grave markers. The geometric patterns that had hitherto been predominant are now limited in numbers and adorn only secondary zones, while pictorial scenes of chariot races, battles, dances, cult scenes and mythological representations become prominent.

One of the characteristic examples of the Late geometric style, is an oldest surviving signed work of a Greek potter Aristonothos (or Aristonophos) (7th century BC). The vase was found at Cerveteri in Italy and illustrates the blindness of Polyphemus by the Odysseus and his companions. From the mid of 8th century BC, the closer contact between Greece and the East enriched the ceramic art with new subjects such as lions, panthers, imaginary beings, rosettes, palmettes, lotus flowers etc. - that led to oriental rythm, in which the pottery style of Corinth distinguished.





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