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Creation across time and civilizations. Art History. Greek art. Ancient Greek art was mainly comprised of vases, sculpture and architecture, lasted around 1,600 years and covered a number of different periods. What were the different phases of ancient Greek Art?.

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Greek art
Greek art

Ancient Greek art was mainly comprised of vases, sculpture and architecture, lasted around 1,600 years and covered a number of different periods.

What were the different phases of ancient greek art
What were the different phases of ancient Greek Art?

  • There were many phases from the 16th century BC, until the Greeks suffered defeat at the hands of the Romans at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE.

  • Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic periods

Pottery shapes
Pottery shapes

  • The most common forms of pottery were amphorae for storing wine, large kraters for mixing wine with water, jugs (oinochoai) for pouring wine, kylixesor stemmed cups with horizontal handles for drinking (especially practical if lifting a cup from the floor when reclining on a lounger at dinner), hydra with three handles for holding water, skyphoi or deep bowls, and lekythoi jars for holding oils and perfumes. Precisely because these objects were for practical use, handles (when present) are generally sturdy, yet the potter, by using carefully considered shapes, often managed to blend these additions into the overall harmony of the vessel and was aided in this endeavor with subtle decorative additions by the painter.

Amphora amphorae
Amphora (amphorae)

For storing wine


For mixed water and wine

Hydria hydriai
Hydria (hydriai)

Water jar, usually 3 handled

Oinochoe oinochoi
Oinochoe (oinochoi)

For pouring wine

Kylix kylixes
Kylix (kylixes)

A cup for drinking

Lekythos lekythoi
Lekythos (Lekythoi)

Jars for oil and perfume

Skyphos skyphoi
Skyphos (skyphoi)

Greek pottery
Greek pottery

The clay (keramos) to produce pottery (kerameikos) was readily available throughout Greece, although the finest was Attic clay, with its high iron content giving an orange-red color with a slight sheen when fired

Greek pottery was invariably made on the potter’s wheel and usually made in separate horizontal sections: the foot, the lower and upper body, the neck, and finally the handles, if necessary. These sections were then joined together with a clay slip

Greek pottery1
Greek pottery

Next, the pot was decorated. This process depended on the decorative style in vogue at the time, but popular methods included painting the whole or parts of the vase with a thin black adhesive paint which was added with a brush, the marks of which remain visible in many cases

The finished pot was then ready to be put in the kiln and fired at a temperature of around 960 °C, which is relatively low and explains the ‘softness’ of Greek pottery (in comparison to, for example, Chinese porcelain). Pots were fired several times (in the same kiln) in order to achieve the required finish and coloring

Greek pottery2
Greek pottery

Painter and potter were usually, although not always, separate specialists. However, lasting partnerships existed

. Although artists were free from centralized political control or restrictions, they no doubt were driven by the market demand for particular styles, subjects, and fashions. Many potters and artists were prolific in their output and in some cases over 200 vases may be attributed to a single artist.

Mycenaean pottery
Mycenaean pottery

Typical decorations of marine and plant life and show a fondness for minimalistic linear designs, a trend which would go on to influence the early pottery of Archaic and Classical Greece from the 9th century BCE.

Mycenaen pottery
Mycenaen pottery

Chariot scene from a krater fragment

14-13th c. BCE

The periods: Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic

15-14 c. BCE terra cotta

Proto geometric

  • From c. 1025 - 900 BCE, the Proto-Geometric phase saw pottery beginning to be decorated with simple shapes, black bands and wavy lines. Additionally, both technique in creating, and shapes of pots were being refined.

The periods: Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic

Geometric period of greek pottery
Geometric period of Greek pottery

The periods: Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic

Archaic period of pottery
Archaic period of pottery

The periods: Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic

A striking change appears in Greek art of the seventh century B.C., the beginning of the Archaic period. The abstract geometric patterning that was dominant between about 1050 and 700 B.C. is supplanted in the seventh century by a more naturalistic style reflecting significant influence from the Near East and Egypt. Humans were included

Archaic period
Archaic period

From c. From c. 750/620-480 B.C.E

The periods: Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic

Black attic figure work c. 6th c.

8th century

Archaic period1

Around 530 B.C. the red-figure technique is invented in Athens. It is the photonegative of the black-figure technique in that the figures are left in the red-orange color of the clay, having been outlined with a thick strip of black, and the background filled in with black.

Archaic period

From c. 480 to 300.

c. 480 to 300.

Beginning about 610 B.C.E, vase painters showed silhouettes in black slip glaze on the red surface of the clay. Like the Geometric Period, vases frequently showed bands, referred to as "friezes," depicting separated narrative scenes, representing elements from mythology and daily life.

Near the end of the 6th century, red-figure became popular. It lasted until about 300 BCE

Classical period
Classical period

Red and black figure pottery continues– the work varies little from the that of the late archaic period.

Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period

Similar to the classical period but less pottery is produced

From roughly the late 4th century to the 1st century BCE

West slope ware

Ancient greek art
Ancient Greek art

Follows Mycenaean civilization and pulls from it.

Ancient Greek

900 BCE – 30 BCE

Geometric and Orientalizing Archaic Early and High Classical Late Classical


Citadel of Mycenae inhabited from c. 1600-1200 BCE

Post and lintel and corbel construction

Here: the Lion Gate

Mycenaean art
Mycenaean Art

  • Mycenaean Art occurred from roughly 1550 to 1200 BC on the Greek mainland. Although the Mycenaean and Greek cultures were two separate entities, they occupied the same lands, successively. The latter learned a few thing from the former, including how to build gates and tombs.

  • Besides architectural explorations including Cyclopean masonry and "beehive" tombs, the Mycenaean were awesome goldsmiths and potters. They raised pottery from merely functional to beautifully decorative

Mycenaean art1
Mycenaean Art

Architecture that will influence the ancient Greeks

Citadel of Tiryns c. 1365 BCE

Mycenaean art2
Mycenaean Art

  • The whole palace complex was surrounded by a fortification wall of large unworked blocks (termed Cyclopean as it was believed that only the Cyclopes could have moved such massive stones). Such walls could reach 5o ftin height and be as much as 20 ftthick. Corbel galleries - arched corridors created by progressively overlapping stone blocks, circular stone tombs with corbelled roofs, and monumental doorways with massive stone lintels

Frescoes wooden pillars
Frescoes, wooden pillars

Reconstruction drawing of the megaron in the palace at Pylos

Shaft graves of mycenae
Shaft graves of Mycenae

Swords, daggers, masks, jewelry cups were buried with the wealthy

Beehive tomb of agamemnon also called treasury of atreus
Beehive tomb of Agamemnon also called Treasury of Atreus

Limestone, vault of 43’ high and 47’6” diameter

Mask of Agamemnon

c. 1600-1550

Mycenaean art3
Mycenaean art

  • Terracotta figurines of animals and especially standing female figures were popular, as were small sculptures in ivory, carved stone vessels and intricate gold jewelry. Frescoes depicted plants, griffins, lions, bull-leaping, battle scenes, warriors, chariots, figure-of-eight shields and boar hunts, a particularly popular Mycenaean activity.

Two women with a child
Two women with a child

Found in the palace at Mycenae Greece c. 1400-1200

2 ½” ivory

Sub mycenaean

  • Around 1200 and the Homeric fall of Troy, the Mycenaean culture dwindled and died, followed by an artistic phase known both as Sub-Mycenaean and/or the "Dark Ages". This phase, lasting from c. 1100 - 1025 BC, saw a bit of continuity with the previous artistic doings, but no innovation.

The mycenaean period
The Mycenaean period

  • What structures did they build?

  • What can you say about the tombs?

  • What was the art like?

  • Do you remember the dates?

Ancient greece
Ancient Greece

The geometric period

Man and centaur

Geometric period 900 700 bce
Geometric period 900-700 BCE

  • The sculptures were chiefly terra cotta figurines, bronzes and ivories.

  • Bronzes were made with a lost wax technique

Bronze horse 750 BCE


The archaic period
The archaic period

700 BCE -480 BCE


  • Archaic Art, from c. 700 - 480 BC, began with an Orientalizing Phase (735 - 650 BC). In this, elements from other civilizations began to creep into Greek art. A large palace complex has been found at most of the Mycenaean centers. The complexes were built around a large rectangular central hall or Megaron. The Mycenaean Megaron was the precursor for later Archaic and Classical Greek temples. This was the heart of the palace and contained a large circular hearth (usually more than 3m in diameter) with four wooden columns supporting a holed ceiling or light-well. It was also the throne room of the ruler or wannaxand many private apartments and areas set aside for administration, storage and manufacturing. Rooms were richly decorated with fresco paintings on the walls and plaster painted floors. Regarding materials, rooms in the palace were constructed with rubble fill and cross-beamed walls covered in plaster inside and limestone blocks outside. Columns and ceilings were usually of painted wood, sometimes with bronze additions

Archaic art period 700 480 bce
Archaic art period 700-480 BCE

  • In this, elements from other civilizations began to creep into Greek art. The elements were those of the Near East (“Orientalizing period”)

  • With the development of the Greek city-states came the construction of large temples and sanctuaries dedicated to patron deities, which signaled the rise of state religion. Each polis identified with its own legendary hero

Archaic period sculpture
Archaic period sculpture

  • Ancient Greek monumental sculpture was composed almost entirely of marble or bronze; Ordinary limestone was used in the Archaic period

  • Originally painted

  • 700 - 480 BC archaic period


  • Archaic Art, from c. 700 - 480 BCE The Archaic phase is best known for the beginnings of realistic depictions of humans and (no coincidence) monumental stone sculptures. It was during the Archaic that the limestone kouros (male) and kore (female) statues were created - always showing young, nude, smiling persons. Usually in Limestone.

  • Few bronze figures exist

Kouroi archaic period
Kouroi” archaic period

All sculpture from all periods were originally painted

Classical period1
Classical period

c. 480-323 BCE

Classical period2
Classical period

  • As with pottery, the Greeks did not produce sculpture merely for artistic display. Statues were commissioned either by aristocratic individuals or by the state, and used for public memorials, as offerings to temples, or as markers for graves. Statues in the Archaic period were not all intended to represent specific individuals. They were depictions of an ideal—beauty, piety, honor or sacrifice.

Classical art 480 323 bc
Classical Art (480 - 323 BC)

  • It was during this period that human statues became so heroically proportioned. Of course, they were reflective of Greek Humanistic belief in the nobility of man and, perhaps, a desire to look a bit like gods - as well as the invention of metal chisels capable of working marble.

Myron’s discus thrower

Classical period sculpture beginning of the 5 th c bce
Classical period sculpture (beginning of the 5th c. BCE)

  • Classical period saw changes in the style and function of sculpture, along with a dramatic increase in the technical skill of Greek sculptors in depicting realistic human forms. Poses also became more naturalistic, From about 500 BCE, Greek statues began increasingly to depict real peoplebeginning

  • The Classical Period also saw an increase in the use of statues and sculptures as decorations of buildings

  • Few bronzes figures exist

Classical period marble sculptures
Classical period-Marble sculptures

Regal, God like humans and human like Gods

More naturalistic

Classical sculpture bas relief
Classical sculpture- bas relief

From a part of the frieze on the Parthenon in Athens

Nike adjusting her sandal

Athena by phidias
Athena by Phidias

This is a 42-foot tall statue made of ivory and gold (over one ton of gold). The ivory was used for the skin, and the gold for her garments. Precious stones were put in as eyes, and intricate decorations were drawn out on her helmet.

You see here a replica that is in Nashville

The Classical Period also saw the addition of other materials to the sculpture

Roman copy

Hellenistic sculpture
Hellenistic sculpture

C 323 (death of Alexander the great to 32 BCE- battle of actium)

Hellenistic art 323 31 bc
Hellenistic Art (323 - 31 BC)

  • went a wee bit over the top. By the time Alexander had died, and things got chaotic in Greece as his empire broke apart, Greek sculptors had mastered carving marble. They were so technically perfect, that they began sculpt impossibly heroic humans. People simply do not look as flawlessly symmetrical or beautiful in real life, as those sculptures -

Hellenistic period sculpture
Hellenistic period sculpture

Death of Laocoon

Winged victory of Samothrace

large, multi-figure groups with great detail and emotional intensity and drama

Athena vs the giant
Athena vs the giant

Bas relief

What period
What period?

Archaic, classical or Hellenistic?

Review from last time
Review from last time

Geometric Archaic classical or Hellenistic ?

Ancient greek architecture
Ancient Greek Architecture

Enormously influential

Greek architecture is one of the staple forms of architecture—arguably the most used style in history. The earliest Greek temples themselves were made of wood or brick, and then eventually builders turned to limestone and marble. The architecture was designed to be aesthetically perfect. The temples were considered to be dwelling places for gods, as Ancient Greek culture centered itself around gods. They built temples as houses for their many gods (who often looked and acted like humans). They prayed at these temples and brought offerings for the different gods.

William Thornton

The three orders of columns
The three orders of columns

Doric, Ionic and Corinthian

Ancient Greek architecture is best known its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact.

Archaic period architecture 750 480 bc
Archaic period architecture- 750-480 BC

The Doric order: the column’s vertical shafts were fluted with 20 parallel concave grooves; and they were topped by a smooth capital that flared from the column to meet a square abacus. It was most popular in the Archaic Period(750-480 BC) in mainland Greece.

Massive columns, no base



The Paestum, in what is now Italy


Temple of hephaestus
Temple of Hephaestus

440-415 BCE

Hephaestus was the patron god of metal working and craftsmanship.

Late archaic early classical
Late archaic, early classical

  • The Ionic Order. The Ionic column is always more slender than the Doric. Ionic columns are most often fluted– 24 to keep the columns standard. Entablature is the Ionic order originated in the mid-6th century BC in Ionia, the southwestern coastland

Scrolled capital

Temple of Artemis– a copy built in Istanbul. The original was destroyed in 401

Sits on a base

The parthenon athens
The Parthenon, Athens

Built in the 5th c.

The ultimate in Doric order

It is the most important surviving building of classic Greece

Late classical period
Late Classical Period

  • The Corinthian order: found during the Late Classical Period (430-323 BC) but it was the style favored by the Romans in their architecture. The Corinthian order used a column topped with an ornate capital with acanthus leaves and small scrolls. The rest of the Corinthian order was the same as the Ionic order

Archaic period architecture
Archaic period architecture

  • Doric design columns. It was most popular in the Archaic Period (750-480 BC) in mainland Greece.

Archaic period architecture1
Archaic period architecture

  • Doric design columns. It was most popular in the Archaic Period (750-480 BC) in mainland Greece.

Classical sculpture
Classical Sculpture

  • Classical Art (480 - 323 BC) was created during a "golden age", from the time Athens rose to prominence, to Greek expansion and right up until the death of Alexander the Great. It was during this period that human statues became so heroically proportioned. Of course, they were reflective of Greek Humanistic belief in the nobility of man and, perhaps, a desire to look a bit like gods - as well as the invention of metal chisels capable of working marble.

Greek architecture1
Greek architecture

  • Ancient Greek architects strove for the precision and excellence of workmanship that are the hallmarks of Greek art in general. The formulas they invented as early as the sixth century B.C. have influenced the architecture of the past two millennia. The two principal orders in Archaic and Classical Greek architecture are the Doric and the Ionic. In the first, the Doric order, the columns are fluted and have no base. The capitals are composed of two parts consisting of a flat slab, the abacus, and a cushion-like slab known as the echinus. On the capital rests the entablature, which is made up of three parts: the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice. The architrave is typically undecorated except for a narrow band to which are attached pegs, known as guttae. On the frieze are alternating series of triglyphs (three bars) and metopes, stone slabs frequently decorated with relief sculpture. The pediment, the triangular space enclosed by the gables at either end of the building, was often adorned with sculpture, early on in relief and later in the round

What do you remember
What do you remember?



Found in architecture or on pottery

Uses acanthus leaves for decoration

Used to hold wine with water

Hellenistic sculpture

Celebrated the goddess Athena

A very flat bowl on a stem

Very realistic maybe a little stiff

Introduced in the archaic period

  • The Parthenon

  • The Venus de milo

  • Corinthian order

  • A frieze

  • Black figure ware

  • A krater

  • A calyx

  • Classical period sculpture

Cleaning room, sketchbook, reflections, next week….

Name the orders
Name the orders

What are the not so obvious differences between them?

What is this building?

Where is it located

What was once inside of it that is no longer there?

What are the visible architectural elements? During what time period was it built?

New term: the acropolis

The acropolis of athen s
The Acropolis of Athens

Caryatid at the acropolis in Athens– one of the most famous

Note the pose: “contrapasto”

A caryatid is a female figure which serves as a column

Match the term and definition
Match the term and definition

The term

The definition

Late Greek period (after the death of Alexander the great)

The horizontal band that sits on top of the columns

The top of a column

The triangular part of a building on top of the columns

The first order of columns

Columns that have a base and a scroll on top

Wide mouth bowl for mixing wine and water

Ceramic ware in which the color of the pottery defines the area around the people

An archaic period sculpture

Columns without a base

  • Kourous

  • krater

  • The pediment

  • Black figure painting

  • hellenistic

  • ionic

  • entablature

  • capital

  • Doric

A little friendly competition

A little friendly competition

What did you learn

What were the main periods of greek history


What were the main periods of Greek history






Facts quiz not in chronological order
Facts quiz– not in chronological order

  • What culture predated the Greek culture but inhabited the same islands?

  • Who defeated the Greeks in 31 BCE?

  • Who built beehive tombs?

  • What was the last period (chronologically) of the Greek civilization?

  • During this period the sculptures favorited stiff, smiling, large eyed youths

What do you know
What do you know?

  • What is the term for a decorative strip on pottery or a strip of carvings under the pediment

  • What do you call a sculpted woman that serves as a pillar?

  • What word means “high city” in Greek?

  • What was the name of a shallow dish on a stem that was used to drink out of

What do you know1
What do you know?

  • The Venus de milo and winged victory of Samothrace were both from what period of ancient Greece?

  • What came first black attic ware or red?

  • What do you call a sculpture that is carved on the surface of a wall?

  • What do you call the doorway construction that is made of two upright pillars and a cross ‘beam’?