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Athenian Potters and Painters. Vol. 3

Athenian Potters and Painters. Vol. 3

Edited by John H. Oakley. Pp. viii + 272, figs. 273, color pls. 32, tables 6. Oxbow, Oxford 2014. $130. ISBN 978-1-78297-663-9 (cloth).

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This is the third volume in the excellent series of conference proceedings Athenian Potters and Painters. This conference took place in September 2012, at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the home institution of the Athenian Potters and Painters organizer, John H. Oakley. The conference volume is dedicated to Alan Shapiro, and a photograph of him at the conference lectern is the volume’s frontispiece.

There are 27 papers in the volume, and many are concerned with iconography and style, but even some of these venture outside these themes. Saunders, for example, in his contribution on a calyx krater in the J. Paul Getty Museum with an Amazonomachy attributed to the Syleus Painter, discusses its Etruscan inscription and publishes seven other vases (all fragments) in the Getty similarly inscribed with “śuthina” or a variation thereof, meaning “for the tomb.” Saunders almost doubles the number of published examples in the corpus of such inscriptions on pottery; there are many more on metal objects of the fourth and third centuries, when the practice seems to be based in north-central Etruria. Unfortunately, most of the vases with śuthina inscriptions are without provenance, although one is certainly from the Banditaccia necropolis at Cerveteri in southern Etruria.

Several papers focus on vase shapes and potters’ workshops. Only two, by Frielinghaus and by Sutton and Kourayos, are devoted to excavation pottery, although context more broadly defined is addressed in other contributions. Athenian pottery and its non-Greek consumers are the subjects of several papers, and three consider Attic and Apulian connections. Klinger and Rotroff highlight Athenian pottery in less well-known museum collections—the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology, Nir David, in Israel, and the Kemper Museum of Art at Washington University in St. Louis.

Among the shape studies, Tsingarida’s essay looks at two groups of Attic phialae, some red-figure, some not figured, from the Late Archaic and Early Classical periods, and she suggests they might all have come out of a workshop associated with Euphronios as potter. She examines a small group of exceptionally large phialae and then associates these with the almost always nonfigured, often coral-red, “Achaemenid phialai," as well as with a class of small, stemless cups, the Class of Agora P10359 (which, confusingly, is called P10350 in several places). The technique of coral-red, associated with potters rather than painters and now seen to be the result of a technology that was likely not widely known, helps her to establish these connections. She also speculates that this large workshop might have been making some shrewd business decisions in diversifying their products to serve a wide range of customers, since although the large phialae are from Etruria, the other vases seem to have been made for markets in Athens and in both the eastern and western Mediterranean.

Iozzo’s “Plates by Paseas” focuses on a group of seven plates (and an eighth in the manner of Paseas), which are all from Chiusi or nearby and are dispersed in museums in Chiusi and elsewhere in Europe and in the United States; one plate is lost. Iozzo’s Chiusi plates all date to the early phase of Paseas’ career, but some are a little earlier than the others. But instead of seeing separate shipments, which would have gone from Athens likely to Vulci, thence to the Chiusi area, Iozzo wonders if all the plates (there are two pairs) might be from a single consignment. Perhaps, he speculates, Paseas and his associates had worked for seven or eight months in order to have a supply of plates ready to go when the spring sailing season commenced.

Vases from tombs in the general area of Chiusi are also the subject of Bundrick’s contribution, which examines five Attic vases from a chamber tomb with multiple burials excavated in 1879 at Foiano della Chiana. The vases were used as cinerary urns, with a cup serving as the lid of one of the urns. Four of the vases have been identified, and, as with the Chiusi plates by Paseas, some stayed in Italy and some went abroad. Recontextualization of the vases from the burials enables the author to consider in some detail what the vases meant to their particular Chiusine customers. This should remind us that we should not think of Etruscan consumers as all the same.

Two articles present somewhat nontraditional ways of looking at Athenian pottery: Lynch and Matter’s essay about connectivity and the trade in Attic pottery, particularly in Anatolia, and Sapirstein’s on productivity in the Athenian pottery industry. Although connectivity has made its way into the archaeological literature, Lynch and Matter address patterns of the trade in Athenian pottery through the lens of connectivity as it was originally used in population ecology and seek parallels between the way populations and pottery move. Although the approach is promising, even the authors conclude that the data is insufficient, especially for statistical modeling. Some important general trends, however, can be gleaned from the data, and perhaps most significant is the suggestion that Athenian pottery made its way to Gordion in central Anatolia along a route from Kyzikos across Hellespontine Phrygia.

Sapirstein attempts a statistical analysis of the Athenian pottery industry, using data derived largely from the Beazley Archive Pottery Database. He is particularly interested in estimating productivity, and he carefully describes his methodology. He believes that past attempts to quantify the industry have overestimated the numbers of workers, partly because they have underestimated annual productivity but also because Beazley “over-divided” the material in his great care to keep painters’ oeuvres separate if he was not absolutely certain they should be combined into the work of a single artist. Sapirstein suggests that the industry may have employed between 120 and 200 workers, including “specialist painters” and “potter-painters,” as well as assistants. He presents these groups on a chart that is, unfortunately, very difficult to read, in both the black-and-white and the color versions. He makes a compelling argument, however, and may here present us with the best estimates yet for the numbers of Athenian potters and painters in the pottery industry, particularly in the last decades of the sixth century and first half of the fifth century.

This is a weighty volume, and it is for the most part nicely produced. Typographical errors appear here and there, but none are particularly distracting, although referring to Shapiro as the “dedacatee” is unfortunate. There are separate bibliographies for each essay, instead of a single lengthy one for the entire volume, and that is much appreciated. Although some are a little murky, the illustrations are plentiful and generally good. The 32 plates of color illustrations gathered at the back are a welcome addition; often they seem to be the same images (but in color) as the black-and-white illustrations. The color plates are a little difficult to consult, however, since neither the author’s name nor the title of the essay appears on the plate.

Volume 3 of Athenian Potters and Painters includes many thoughtful and stimulating articles, using both new and tried and true methodologies. It will join volumes 1 and 2 on the shelf of essential reference works on Attic vase painting.

Ann Blair Brownlee
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Book Review of Athenian Potters and Painters. Vol. 3, edited by John H. Oakley

Reviewed by Ann Blair Brownlee

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 121, No. 1 (January 2017)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1211.Brownlee

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