Ancient Greek Pottery: History, Development and Designs

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Kelly Macquire
published on 23 January 2022

Ancient Greek pottery was for practical use, so once physical shapes of different types of pottery had been perfected for a particular purpose, the shape was maintained and copied. Greek pottery was crafted in a bunch of different shapes and sizes, and all had specific functions and were used in specific circumstances from the symposium, which was an all-male drinking party, to domestic uses, storage, transportation, and rituals. Often, the intended usage of the pottery was made clear in the decoration.

Nothing can tell us more about the cultural beliefs, practices, and even daily life of the ancient Greeks than the surviving pottery. We have tens of thousands of pots and fragments surviving from Ancient Greece, and it’s just lucky for us that treasure hunters saw no value in Ancient Greek pottery, so it was often left alone when burials or tombs were robbed. Ancient Greek pottery has survived in many, many distinct forms, which all would have had specific functions in the daily life of Greece, and although these pieces of pottery may be sitting in glass boxes now, in their heyday, they would have been used regularly. Not only have decorations painted on the surviving pottery given modern-day scholars invaluable insight into cultural and religious beliefs and practices, but have been super helpful in determining a chronology for ancient Greece. So, what did the ancient Greeks use their pottery for, what were they decorated with, and who were the people who made them?

Flaroh Illustration
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0:00​ Introduction
0:53 Introduction to Ancient Greek Pottery
2:06 Different Forms and Functions
7:19 Techniques and Designs
9:08 Proto-Geometric and Geometric Pottery
10:41 Black-Figure Pottery
11:35 Red-Figure Pottery
12:17 Potters and Painters
14:17 Outro

Ancient Greek Pottery
A Visual Glossary of Greek Pottery
Black-Figure Pottery
Red-Figure Pottery
Greek Vases: Names, Shapes and Functions
Making and Decorating Athenian Black and Red-Figure Vases–and-red-figu/
Pottery in Antiquity
Firing Athenian Black and Red-Figure Vases

Origin and History of the Ancient Olympic Games
Ancient Medicine, Healing and Physicians in Antiquity
The History of Philosophy: Origins of Ancient Philosophy Around the Globe
7 Surprising Stories from Herodotus' Histories

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Open Access -
CC0 -
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Open Access -
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World History Encyclopedia

#ancientgreekpottery #greekpottery #redfigurepottery #blackfigurepottery

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, January 23). Ancient Greek Pottery: History, Development and Designs. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient Greek Pottery: History, Development and Designs." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 23, 2022.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient Greek Pottery: History, Development and Designs." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 23 Jan 2022. Web. 16 Jul 2024.