Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics

By
Ross Brendle
Ross Brendle is a Ph.D. candidate in Classical Archaeology, focusing on ancient Greek art and in particular Attic vase-painting. His dissertation examines the specialized uses of Attic black-figure pottery after the introduction of the red-figure technique. In the fall, he will be the Samuel H. Kress Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
and
Sanchita Balachandran
Sanchita Balachandran is the Curator/Conservator of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. She teaches courses related to the identification and analysis of ancient manufacturing techniques of objects, as well as the history, ethics and practice of museum conservation.

Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics from the Archaeological Museum

greekceramicsThis paper discusses the work of a Spring 2015 course in which students across disciplines at JHU collaborated with Baltimore Clayworks to attempt to recreate red-figure Greek vases from the museum’s collection.  The course brings together scholars in art history, archaeology, art conservation, materials science, and most importantly the making of ceramics to explore the experience of the ancient apprentice. The course included making pots, slipping and firing them in a kiln made for the project.  Students experimented with making the distinctive kylix shape and decorating the pots with slip. Various techniques of applying slip to the surface were tried in an effort to best replicate the fine raised lines found on our ancient prototypes. In addition to forming and decorating the pots, students considered the various firing techniques proposed by modern scholars.