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by Archaeology Newsroom

Inscriptions on black-figured vases of the 6th century BC

Since the early years of their civilization, Greeks travelled and met people of the East, an important source of knowledge and inspiration. New knowledge and experience mainly affected pottery, a basic and essential art that is representative of the age it was made in. Thus, the 8th century B.C. is the “Geometric” and the 7th century the “Orientalizing” period. Also from the East, Greeks brought home the Phoenician alphabet which altered and most probably developed became indisputably Greek in character. Thus, from the mid-8th century B.C. Greeks have written in their own alphabet on the pottery they created: Vessels of everyday use that, according to the celebrated archaeologist Pierre Devampez, “played the role magazines play today”. The content of the pottery inscriptions varied: it indicated the use of the individual piece, it identified the owner, it supplied titles and names, it simply recorded the name of the artist, potter and painter of the vase or the words spoken by the represented figures. Therefore, inscriptions on vases come down to us as a vast source of information on one of the most important ages of art and civilization in Greece.