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The transition from the Submycenaean to the Protogeometric pottery is characterized by the technical progress that took place in the manufacture of painted vases and accelerated their production. Craftsmen were by now using a rapid potter's wheel with obvious results in the balance and elegance of shapes. Clay was much better cleaned, the slip, whenever used, was of very good quality whereas the glaze was black and glossy. In addition, the incision of concentric circles, that remained a typical decorative motif, was not done freely by hand but by compass the one arm of which consisted of a multiple brush. Protogeometric Style led into whatbecame known as the Geometric style.
"Now for the first time the history of Greek vases proper begins" (Buschor, 18). The orgins of the Geometric Style has its basis in the earlier Mycenean style with its geometric decoration. The "Salamis" vases were the earliest representation, taking the Mycenean form of the stirrup vase and the spiral ornament. From these megar beginnings advancements in designs were made from simple designs. "Angular patterns, rows of dots, strokes, "fish-bones", zig-zags, crosses, stars, hooked crosses, triangles, rhombi,, hook maeander systems, chequers, net patterns are most common; alongside of them are circles and rosettes neatly made with the compass" (Buschor, 20). The innovation of the compass was key in producing many of the designs in the Geometric Style. The representation of figures also took a geometric approach. Figures were shown in stylized silhouettes setting the body in its simplest form. Vases were generally divided into bands which were filled with geometric decorations and these basic figure forms.
Geometric Greek Dipylon
The other form of common decoration was to divide the vase into rectangular sections at the shoulder creating metopes filled with complete ornaments instead of continuious processions like in the banded paintings. There were usually central motifs to pottery decorated in this fashion simular to how temples had certain motifs in their metopes. Legendary creatures such as centaurs began to appear on late geometric pottery. Daily life was dipicted the most on the pottery of this style where figures appeared. All forms were shown from the front view.
Each area of Greece developed its own spin on the Geometric style. The Attic Geometric vase was the dipylon. The Dipylon vases are considered to be some of the height of Geometric Style. Standing as tall as two meters, dipylon were generally used in tomb decoration. The height od the dipylon is considered the, black dipylon which was sparsly decorated at the shoulder and covered with black. Cycladic vases are characterized by their light color slip. Rhodian Geometric vases are very similar to the Cycladic style except for the absence of light color slip and the inclusion of plant decoration. "The most important Peloponnesian manufactures are: (1) that of Sparta, which now to some extent adopts the white slip later predominate; (2) that of Argos, which soon discards its Mycenean reminiscences and develops on parallel lines with the Attic ware without attaining to theheights and richness of the Dipylon vases; (3) above all, the so-called Protocorinthian" (Buschor, 26).
Foreign elements began to invade the tradional from of the Geometric style when each culture began to add its own spin on the style. With increased contact with the East, eastern influences began to be incorporated in the artwork on ceramics. This notion is known as Orientalizing and in effect began the revolution in style that brought about the end of the Geometric Style and ushered in the 7th Century and Black Figure Style
The seventh century began with the influence of Oriential Style are influencing the current Geometric Style. Images of lions, foreign goddesses followed by strange animals, and the sphynx were all elements introduced into greek vase painting by eastern culture. The brunt of the oriental influence came from the greek east that had the most contact with eastern civilization. The areas of Rhodes, Samos, and Miletus had a strong influence on this trend.
Banded Jug with Oriental Influences
Crete pottery took its influence from its metalware that had taken many decorative designs from the east and put it in their work. the inclusion of the rows of s's that were incorporated in pottery from Crete and the ray patterns around the handels on the lower shoulder of some vases is a purely Egyptian idea. Taking ideas from metal work also lead to attempting to create a more metalic look for the pottery. The technique of adding white dots to black painted pottery gave a metallic look to the pottery. The Praios jug and the Berlin jug are the high examples of this technique.
The motif of fighting against monsters or other ominous cretures is another recurrent theme on many forms of pottery. Gorgon battles, lion like creatures, and other beasts. These styles have their basis in old types of oriental art depicting hero scenes. It also lends itself to the metopes of temples and the metopes on earlier styles of greek pottery.
Buschor, Ernst. Greek Vase-Painting. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1978.
Whitley, James. The Archaelolgy of Ancient Greece. 2004. Ed. Norman Yoffee. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 2004.
Richter, Gisela M.A. A Handbook of Greek Art: A Survey of the Visual Arts of Ancient Greece. 1959. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987.
Geometric Greek Dipylon. Photograph. 23 Nov. 2005 <http://faculty.evansville.edu/rl29/art105/img/greek_dipylon.jpg>.