Pottery from a late archaic Athenian house in context

Lynch, Kathleen Marie, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Bell III, Malcolm, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Carpenter, Tom, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Dobbins, John, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Wattenmaker, Patricia, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

This project examines a domestic well deposit (J 2:4) filled with Persian destruction debris (480 B.C.) excavated near the Athenian Agora. The well contains black-figure, red-figure, black-glaze and coarse wares. All material was retained. This is the first well preserved deposit of an entire domestic assemblage from an Athenian house.

The focus of this project is the role of the figured wares within the domestic Athenian assemblage. Nearly all of the figured wares are shapes related to communal drinking, and drinking vessels are the predominant shapes. The deposit preserves several sets of drinking vessels: two red-figured cups with intentional red; red-figured type C cups; black-figured cup-skyphoi; and black-figured Heron Class skyphoi. The blackglaze shapes match the shapes of the set providing additional members, or they provide serving shapes not represented among the figured wares. Potting and painting relationships indicate that some of the members of the sets were purchased at the same time from the same shop.

The images on the figured wares are related to their contexts of use. The intentional red cups are the finest and have athletic imagery. Their limited number and special repairs indicate that they were valued within the house, and probably used for important occasions. The red-figured cups have images relating indirectly to the symposium, but do not represent the drinking itself, nor are there mythological subjects. The subjects remind the drinkers that they are part of the group and the activity. The images on the black-figured cup-skyphoi are poorly drawn, but they refer to the consumption of wine. These skyphoi were probably the everyday wine drinking vessels of the house. The Heron Class skyphoi were probably not drinking vessels but small mixing bowls for small gatherings. Their subjects are also stock, except for one perplexing image.

There is a relationship between context of use and quality of decoration. The coarse wares are for daily chores, and the finer the figured wares, the more important the occasion. The house hosted a range of drinking activities and selected its images to convey different messages to different sets of guests.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Persian debris, Athenian Agora, 480 B.C., pottery

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-18 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:33:16.

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