Quantifying the Importance of Motifs on Attic Figure-Painted Pottery

Peter Schauer

in Creating Consilience

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199794393
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919338 | DOI:

Series: New Directions in Cognitive Science

Quantifying the Importance of Motifs on Attic Figure-Painted Pottery

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This chapter applies population-level, quantitative analysis to the development of motifs on figure-painted pottery in ancient Greece. It shows that the frequencies of motifs known to be important from other sources, such as Theseus, are dwarfed by more popular motifs such as Nike. This indicates that cultural importance cannot be inferred from frequency alone. The examples also show that correlations with contemporary events occur in predicted locations in some motifs, as in the example of Boreas, but in the example of Pan, it is shown that, although an historical correlation exists, a larger increase at a later time has been left unexplained. The example of Nike demonstrates that a hitherto unseen peak in popularity shows up clearly when the motifs are viewed as frequencies.

Keywords: quantitative analysis; motifs; ancient pottery; ancient Greece; frequencies; Theseus; Nike

Chapter.  5176 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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