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Attic Vases From Athens Inspired Cypriote Pottery

December 20, 2011

Athenian pottery was exported to both east and west. In Cyprus the pottery was exported for about 300 years and it became a part of the Cypriots’ life. It also inspired the local potters and painters to create their own versions of the imagery and enrich them with local elements. This is described in a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Niki Eriksson, who has studied the Attic pottery found in Cyprus, points out that the pottery was imported from the early 500s BC to the late 300 BC, she also adds that a similar distribution to the Eastern Mediterranean suggests that a great part of the Cypriote import is of the same mercantile transactions, which were operated by the Phoenicians. There are, however, reasons to believe that there were direct commercial contacts with Athens and that private individuals who visited Athens brought some of the pottery to Cyprus.

Cypriots showed a particular preference for drinking vessels and perfume flasks. Niki Eriksson suggests that the Cypriots wanted a precious piece of pottery that they could use in their everyday activities and at the same time honor their gods and dead ancestors. Kraters which, were big bowls in which wine and water was mixed were the most popular votive gifts and were most probably used during the religious festivities.

The iconographical representations reflect the imaginary world of the Greeks. By studying the iconography one may follow the art development, the personalities of the pottery painters and the taste of the different customers.

The popularity of the pottery owed not only to its high quality but also to its rich iconography, which enabled the customer to use it in different occasions as for example the religious feasts at the sanctuaries where the rituals and the visual symbols found on the vessels helped the island’s inhabitants to form common culture and identities.

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