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Clearly Greek pottery was not simply utilitarian but it also reflected the social and cultural values of the artists. Ancient Greek pottery was intended for everyday use but as well as being functional it was often beautifully decorated. Archaeologists rely heavily on pottery as important evidence for reconstructing Greek life. It provides us with important documentation about their culture through painted scenes, especially on Attic Black and Red figure vessels. A large number of these scenes illustrate the myths and legends of the ancient Greeks. Through these we find an interpretation of the stories and a picture of how they viewed their deities. Because of the Artists tendency to label the individual characters in a legend, we are able to sometimes piece together parts of scenes from lost plays or even unusual myths. Evidence for the way in which Greek tragedy and comedy was staged is also available through depicted scenes on the vases. And other decorated pots also provided us with valuable information about dress and objects of everyday life.
The painters usually signed their work. This gives us a firm basis of the artists' style or preferred subject matter. By studying which potters and painters worked together, specialists have been able to gather more information about the time period in which these artists worked. Using this information, researchers have been able to categorize the pots and learn of their cultural influences at the time. The Geometric period from 1000-700 BC began in the dark ages, depicting marine and plants of the Bronze Age. They were soon abandoned in favor of Geometric Patterns. These designs consisted of simple shapes such as zigzags and triangles. In the 9th and 8th century BC bands of decoration featuring animals and humans were added. As the Greeks increased their contact with foreigners, oriental motifs such as lotuses, palms, lions and monsters became common. This was known as the Orientalizing and archaic period in which lasted from 720 to 550BC. They soon changed their new growing skill into representations from Greek myth and heroic legends. The labors of Herakles and scenes from the Odyssey became very popular. By 625BC the orientalizing influences began to lose their appeal and a transition was made to the black-figure technique of painting. This consisted of
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