Greek Terracota Amphora
6th Century BCE, Orvieto, Italy
The Greek world of the sixth centuries B.C.E. consisted of numerous independent city-states, also known as poleis, separated one from the other by mountains and the sea. As they grew in wealth and power, the poleis on the coast of Asia Minor and neighboring islands competed with one another in the elaboration of art. Greek vessels hide substantial information about its culture. At first glance they may seem very simple and ordinary, but as you see more closely and the details of each piece are analyzed, what you can find is impressive. Because of its relative durability and since there is a significant number of them, Greek ceramics make up much of the archaeological record of Ancient Greece and they have become a major influence on our comprehension of Greek society.
When we think about ceramic vessels we usually associate them to the idea of being used for storage, but many of these pieces have more than one function. The various forms and narrative images painted on their surfaces is what differentiate them from each other and makes them unique. One of the pieces that best exemplify the intentions of the Greek artists is a terracotta amphora of the late 6th century BCE found in Orvieto, Italy. It was during this century that many artists and architects grew significantly thanks to the support of city councils and wealthy individuals who sponsored the manufacture of distinctive sculptures, ceramics and buildings. This was a big step for art that we preserve nowadays. This ceramic piece contains a representation of Dionysus, the god of wine, accompanied by a satyr and a maenad. Why are these people being portrayed? Who are they? What was the artist intention?
The Greeks created beautiful pottery vessels whose forms were adapted to their specific valuable functions. The Greek vessel found in Orvieto is an amphora, used to store and transport various products, but mainly wine. By this time, potters...
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