Getty Villa newsletter

By Jake Sanderlin

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This is a large vessel used for carrying either water or wine. There are pictures illustrated on the vessel, telling a story.

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This is a vessel also used for carrying wine and or water, though it is not as large. It too has illustrations on it's rim, showing the story of how dolphins were created.


As seen, we in Greece use different kinds of vessels, or pottery, used for carrying things such as water or wine. Clay is used to make pottery, especially top of the line attic clay. This clay is used on a potters wheel to make the pottery. It is usually made in separate sections, going bottom to top, and adding the handles if necessary. These sections were then put together with clay slips. Pottery comes in many different shapes and sizes. This is because they are made to be practical. For example, if you want container to drink from, a small vessel with handles would likely be made. However, if you want a vessel for storing lot's of water, it would be more like a large vessel, such as the on e above. As you may be able to tell by the pictures, these vessels are not only useful, but there is art put into them as well. There are many different types of art put on to these vessels, such as red-ink, black-ink, and geometric art. Many times the art represents stories. A story represented by the large vessel above was the story of Odysseus and Polyphemus. Odysseus and his men were captured by the cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus brought the men into his cave which had a boulder blocking the entrance. big enough where only Polyphemus could move it. He would eat a couple men a day, so Odysseus and his men knew they had to think of a plan. They used a giant branch, as seen on the large vessel, to poke Polyphemus in the eye to blind him. They then tied themselves under Polyphemus's sheep, since he was a shepherd. The next day when Polyphemus let out his sheep, Odysseus and his men were able to escape. There was also a story behind the smaller vessel. There were tired pirates who needed supplies, and they found an island. They went to go look on the island, and they found who they thought to be a king, since he was dressed in purple.They decided to hold him for ransom, so they tied him up and sailed off. However, this “King” turned out to be the God of wine. He turned the sea into wine, and started a raging storm. The men were forced to jump off, but the god of wine, because he was still nice, turned them into Dolphins so they could swim to shore. And that's how Dolphins were created. To sum this all up, vessels were very useful tools for Ancient Greece, and are also very interesting pieces of art, with great stories behind them.