Archaeologies of the Greek Past - Home
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
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The so-called “Chigi Vase” is an example of the Greek oinochoe pottery form dating to the first half of the 6th century BCE. Although a late proto-Corinthian form, it was found in an Etruscan (central Italian) context and serves as an indicator of the trade relations along the Mediterranean Sea, particularly among various elites for burial assemblages.
The vase is an early instance of narrative art; the lower areas of oinochoe pottery forms of the Archaic period were now becoming utilized for painting and decoration. This was an attempt to illustrate a story, and later, writing was implemented to assist in the storytelling. This marked a departure from the previous Geometric period forms in that pottery was now being used to reference specific stories and myths, with representations of different figures or characters. The decorations on the Chigi Vase itself are rather sophisticated, as it is graced with narrative scenes, incised lines and varied coloration. Polychromy, where the use of multiple colors is employed, was another improvement upon the previous Geometric period.
The first representation of the hoplite phalanx on pottery, appears on this vase. Individual hoplite warriors in formation, as well as the hoplon (soldier’s shield) and other armaments are clearly visible. This example of vase painting gives modern viewers a brief look into ancient Greek military organization. Such groupings indicate a level of social cohesion where Greeks came together to unite as equals. Of course, this was only for a select few (elite Greek males), as women, slaves, and the poor were denied equal status.
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