Greek Pottery

So much of what archaeologists have learned about Greek culture comes from the images depicted on a range of Greek pottery. While pottery dates back to the Neolithic settlements predating the Minoans on Crete, the greatest examples of pottery styles come from the Classical Age of the 5th century B.C. There were many different forms and uses for pottery, and the images were extremely detailed, usually depicting myths.

Some of the Greek pottery that archaeologists have found include labels of characters as well. In a few rare pots, the artist even signed his name to his work. As you know, the Greek alphabet of the Classical period was based on the Phoenicians' alphabet. While modern Greek has many similarities with the ancient language, they are not exactly alike. Also, because our alphabet is based on the Greek alphabet as it came though the Romans, there are some similarities with our alphabet as well. In fact, the word 'alphabet' comes from the names of the first two letters-- alpha (A) and beta (B).

Check out some great examples of Greek pottery below, and look for even more examples on the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's website.

Then, try and write your name using the ancient Greek alphabet, as well as the names of some mythical heroes.

Greek pottery came in many different shapes and sizes, all related to its function.

Here Athena cheers on as Achilles drags the dead body of Hector behind his chariot.

King Agamemnon of Mycenae is murdered by his wife and her boyfriend after he returns from Troy

Here Artemis has the hunter Actaeon's own dogs kill him after he accidentally saw her naked

Here Athena and Herakles greet one another

Here Herakles completes one of his labors by driving a herd of cattle

Herakles wrestles the Hydra

In a scene from the Odyssey, the witch Circe turns men into animals with a magic potion

Here, Hermes, Odysseus and the ghost of his comrade are shown in the underworld

Odysseus makes a sneaky escape from the Cyclops's cave by hiding under a ram

Several scenes from the Iliad and some magical creatures are shown

This key shows both capital and small ancient Greek letters

Here is a larger key of the ancient Greek capital letters