Forum Archaeologiae - Zeitschrift für klassische Archäologie 84 / IX / 2017


Vasen und Wände. Zur kommunikativen Funktion der Paestaner Keramik
Klaus Junker (Mainz, DE)

Die paestaner Vasen sind ein Glücksfall der Überlieferung, denn ihr kultureller Kontext ist, was nur für wenige Vasengruppen gilt, präzise fassbar: Die Produktion der zum Teil äußerst qualitätvollen Stücke beginnt so gut wie sicher erst, als die griechische Stadt Poseidonia bereits vom benachbarten italischen Stamm der Lukaner beherrscht war. Die Funktion dieser der Machart nach rein griechischen Gefäße war in erster Linie sepulkral, und viele Vasen, gerade auch die motivisch ambitionierten, dienten als Beigaben in lukanischen Gräbern, die mit Malereien ausgestattet waren. Wand- wie Vasenmalereien sind für sich jeweils sehr gut erforscht, während die Untersuchung des Zusammenhangs zwischen den beiden Objektgruppen ein Desiderat geblieben ist. Die weitgehend der italischen Lebenswelt entstammenden Darstellungen an den Wänden und die umgekehrt fast ausschließlich aus der griechischen Mythologie genommenen Stoffe der Vasen scheinen in einem komplementären Verhältnis zueinander zu stehen.
Die Situation in Paestum gleicht damit einer Art Labor des Kulturkontakts, dessen Mechanismen kaum jemals so zusammenhängend studiert werden können. Zwar gibt es eine größere Zahl von Kontexten, in denen bemalte griechische Vasen eine vitale Rolle in der materiellen und der Vorstellungswelt einer nicht-griechischen Kultur gespielt haben, doch ist die Verbindung meist nur partiell erschließbar. Der Befund in Paestum erlaubt aufgrund seiner Vollständigkeit zwei miteinander zusammenhängenden Themenfeldern nachzugehen, einerseits den eben angesprochenen Prozessen beim Kulturkontakt, andererseits der spezifischen kommunikativen Funktion von griechischen Vasen und ihrer Bilder in Absetzung von anderen Denkmälerarten oder Medien. Konkreter formuliert: In welcher Weise ergänzten sich Wandmalereien und Vasenbilder in ihren Bildaussagen? In welchem Verhältnis stehen die symbolische Wertigkeit der Vasendarstellungen und der Prestigecharakter der griechischen Gefäße für die nicht-griechischen Grabinhaber zueinander? Wie sind die zum Teil komplexen Bildinhalte im gemischten Bevölkerungsmilieu von Poseidonia verständlich zu machen?


Hellenisme: Why Greek Myths Appealed to the Etruscans
Kathleen Lynch (Cincinnati, US)

It is well-known to the field that the richest source of Athenian vases decorated with Greek mythology is not Athens or mainland Greece, where one would expect the scenes to resonate with cultural values. Instead, vases with complex mythological scenes are more frequently found in Etruscan graves. Some of the myths displayed are very specific or creative variants of well-known myths. Scholars have tried to explain the appeal of Greek mythology to the Etruscans by highlighting myths that elide into Etruscan belief systems, or by considering some myths to have universal appeal. For example, Dionysos maps on to Fufluns and both cultures emphasize success in battle. These interpretations can explain some of the export pattern, but not all of it.
This paper takes a more generic approach to the appeal Greek vases with mythological iconography might have had for their Etruscan owners. The birth of Erichthonios on a red-figured cup by the Codrus Painter, for example, comes from a grave at Tarquinia, Etruria. This myth, in particular, conveys a specifically Athenian message of autochthony, a message that would not have had much resonance outside of Athens. Even the François Vase with its cavalcade of mythological scenes found its way to a tomb near Chiusi. What unites these two and many other examples is a preference for multifigure scenes and for specificity of myth.
I propose that the vase-painters, who are businessmen, created products to appeal to the Etruscan audience’s fascination with the Greeks and Greek culture. The more complicated or obscure the myth, the more alluring and attractive the vases were to their customers. I see this as a kind of active Athenisme or Hellenisme, in which the Greek vase-painters willingly participate in the artistic exaggeration or distillation of their own culture in order to sell vases. A comparison with figured pottery used at home in Athens demonstrates that Athenian customers preferred modest, non-narrative scenes. In Etruria, the pride of owning a well-decorated vase with a very specific myth must have reflected the owner’s erudition and status, just as owning an Orientalisme painting would have done for a European in the time of 19th century colonialism: the more authentic the image, the greater the value it had to its owner.


A Youth in a Bonnet in Attic red-figure: New Case – New Sense?
Anna Petrakova (St. Petersburg, RU)

In 1983 Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux and François Lissarrague, in 1986 – John Boardman and Donna Kurtz, in 1995 – Marie-Hélène Delavaud-Roux, in 1999 – Margaret Miller… many scholars have studied the subject of ‘a youth in a bonnet’ in Attic black- and red-figure vase-painting. It used to be connected in a variety of publications with the world of Dionysus, with the context of theatre performance, with the fashion, spread in Athens after the arrival of Anacreon etc. To these cases of the pictorial narrative we can add descriptions of cases of transvestism connected to espionage, erotic games, mythological stories, and religious traditions from the Greek and Roman texts. But there is a red-figure drinking-cup in the State Hermitage Museum attributed to the Villa Giulia Painter and dated circa 470 BC, which cannot be included amongst the known series of depictions and interpretations of a youth in a bonnet in Attic vase-painting or in written sources. It is an unusual case and even in the catalogues of the 19th century this youth used to be described as a ‘woman’. The Importance of vase-painting in transmitting specific content was proven on the basis of differing cases from ideological propaganda to the popularization of new material. In our case we could suggest the aim of the vase-painter to reflect a social phenomenon: on the Hermitage cup the youth, timidly seating behind the woman’s back and wearing a bonnet and an earring, could be interpreted as an eastern youth captured during the Greco-Persian Wars and forced to work in a brothel. Thus, in view of the already discovered political symbolism of Athenian vase-painting, we have to take into account the range of additional secondary meanings, varying from joy of victory in the war to satiric reflections on the interrelation of the sexes.


Thracian Warriors Linking(?) Greeks and Thracians
Despoina Tsiafaki (Xanthi, GR)

Figural iconography on Greek vases has often been considered as a carrier of messages and as reflecting (fragmented?) aspects of ancient Greek society and ideology. Despite the tentative degree of accuracy and the selectiveness of the presented as well of the preserved subjects, vase painters depicted aspects of current life, tradition and (their?) knowledge.
Taking the above into consideration, this paper will attempt to explore the messages that might be included or hidden within the representations of males dressed in Thracian costumes. The theme of Thracian warriors, as they are usually known, appears to be a favourite subject on Attic black- and red-figured vases of the late Archaic and Classical periods. Thracian men were famous for their fighting abilities and they were often employed by Greeks as mercenaries.
The time of their appearance on Attic vases corresponds with a period when Greeks and Thracians were in various types of contact (e.g. friendly, hostile, alliances). Aim of this paper is to investigate whether and to what extent, such scenes might act as message carriers and communication media between those people and amongst each of them.


Between Apollo and Osiris: Archaic East Greek pottery as agents of Greek-Egyptian cross-cultural communication
Alexandra Villing (London, GB)

East Greek vases of the 6th century BC found in Egypt offer some of the most striking examples of ‘foreign’ imagery penetrating Greek art, from the cartouches on the ‘Apries-amphora’ found at Egyptian Thebes, to the stick-fighters on a ‘situla’ from Daphnae/Tell Dafana. The inter¬pretation and significance of such ‘Egyptianising’ imagery has long been a matter of scrutiny and controversial debate, with many elements remaining puzzling and ill-explained.
The paper will take the topic of ‘Egyptianising’ Greek pottery in Egypt as a case study for how the meaning of vase imagery can be assessed through a systematic contextual analysis. I will suggest that it is only by close examination of the vases in their cultural, social and geographical contexts that we can begin to gain an understanding of their potential role in intercultural exchange. This includes analysing the semantics of narrative images as well as of shapes within the (cultural) horizons of both production and consumption (i.e. the archaeological assemblage).

Taking the vases’ find contexts in Egypt – primarily Egyptian sanctuaries – as my key reference point I will propose a model of interpretation that centres on the importance of Osirian religion in Late Period Egypt, which I will argue is reflected in all of these vessels, albeit in different, locally specific ways and in a variety of cultural ‘translations’. I will suggest that the vessels were specially commissioned by Greeks so as to form part of an intercultural dialogue between Greeks and Egyptians that was played out primarily in the religious sphere, and that their shape and imagery was substantially informed by the lived experience of Greeks in Egypt from the late 7th century BC onwards.


An Imagery of Myth and Ritual Between East and West: a View from the late 8th and early 7th Centuries BC?
Vicky Vlachou (Brüssel, BE)

From around the second half of the 8th century BC figured decorated vessels enter the production of most Aegean pottery workshops. Specific themes are displayed and repeated in similar or more abbreviated forms. It seems that most of these images transmitted specific ideas and beliefs, and thus can only be approached or understood in relation to their context, both archaeological and social. In many cases, the form of the vessel further accentuates the meaning and scope of the image.
If we accept that images carry and address specific meanings and symbolisms for a specific audience, then how may we understand similar images functioning in different contexts? This paper will address the issue of imagery on Late Geometric and Early Archaic vessels as a medium of communication in different cultural and social spheres. We will examine the meaning of certain images of apparently oriental origin that enter the repertoire of Athens, Euboea, Boeotia and the Cyclades at the end of the end of 8th century BC and their function. Furthermore, we will discuss the function of similar images as represented on vases exported to the Italian regions, or even locally made under the strong influence of the Aegean production, as carriers of specific symbolism and meaning.
Our approach will focus on the scenes with presumed mythical and/or ritual connotations. What are the differences in the repertory of Athenian or Euboean potters and painters installed in the Italian regions who produced pottery for their local clienteles? How may we understand specific images that served equally the funerary and/or ritual contexts? Such images were favoured by and attached to high-ranked individuals, albeit in different cultural, social and even chronological contexts in the Mediterranean. Despite distinct beliefs and strategies, images seem to serve in constructing and maintaining social relations through shared expressions in common.


This article should be cited like this: C. Lang-Auinger - E. Trinkl, Griechische Vasen als Kommunikationsmedium / Greek Vases as Medium of Communication, Forum Archaeologiae 84/IX/2017 (