A selection of ceramics through the ages (5 second delay) Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology The Collections:
PotWeb: Ceramics online
@ the Ashmolean Museum
Early Europe & Near East
Classical to Medieval
Europe from 1500
Oriental & Islamic
Prospectus -- Ceramics in the Ashmolean
Greek Pottery in the Ashmolean
The Ashmolean's collection of ancient Greek pottery vessels is one of the finest in the world. In its range, size and scholarly importance it ranks in the United Kingdom behind only that of the British Museum.

Bronze Age
Much of the very important Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean material from the Greek Bronze Age resulted from the excavation of Knossos and the discovery of the Minoan civilisation by Arthur [later Sir Arthur] Evans, Keeper of the Ashmolean from 1884 to 1908.

Geometric and Classical
The Geometric period is well represented, leading on to the truely outstanding collection of black- and red-figure pottery from the Classical period. The most prominent pieces, which have been published in the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, include the famous Shoemaker Vase, the red-figure crater with a potter's workshop scene, and the helmet-maker cup. Other striking images include Odysseus and Circe, and Odysseus on a raft of amphorae represented on a drinking vessel from Thebes. There is also a very extensive and important collection of lekythoi, the vessels used as containers for storing oil.

Italy and Cyprus
The material from Italy includes Etruscan work as well as a fine and representative collection from the entire period of Greek colonisation. The Cypriot collection ranges from the Early Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period, and is one of the most comprehensive of its kind anywhere outside Cyprus.

The later products of the Hellenistic period include Megarian bowls and Attic West Slope ware. There are also rich collections of fragments of exported pottery from excavations at the shrine of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, in the Panhellenion at Naucratis in Egypt, and at the Greek trading settlements at Al Mina in Turkey (formerly Syria), and at Pichvnari on the Black Sea coast of Georgia.

The Collectors
The nucleus of the Greek collection was acquired in Sicily by Arthur Evans towards the end of the 19th century, and it has been added to by gift and purchase. The Museum acquired the bulk of the Spencer-Churchill collection in the 1960s, and throughout the period 1911 to 1967 it was enriched thanks to the involvement of the classical art-historian Sir John Beazley.

What PotWeb can achieve
Altogether the Greek collections include almost 7,500 complete vessels and over 500 boxes and trays of fragments.
Major areas of the collection have yet to receive the scholarly attention they deserve. In the view of the curator responsible for the collections, Professor Michael Vickers, Senior Assistant Keeper in the Department of Antiquities, PotWeb is the ideal vehicle to remedy this and to bring the entire collection for the first time to a truly worldwide audience of scholars, students and the interested public.
Important material that cannot be displayed currently because of space constraints will be made available online, and PotWeb will also make possible interactive displays for visitors to the collection within the Museum. Educational packages will put the pottery into its historical, social and economic context.

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last updated: jcm/22-apr-2002