The Uses of Writing on Early Greek Painted Pottery

Anthony Snodgrass

in Archaeology and the Emergence of Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623334
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653577 | DOI:
The Uses of Writing on Early Greek Painted Pottery

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The interplay of image and word had long been ubiquitous in the culture of ancient Greece. But there are very few places where the two come so close together as in the painted inscriptions on Greek vases: indeed, inasmuch as the inscriptions at times seem to be located with a view of filling gaps in the figure-scenes, the word can actually become a part of the image. In 1990 appeared Henry Immerwahr's long-awaited Attic Script: A Survey. The title of the book hardly conveys the fact that vase-inscriptions heavily preponderate in terms of content. There are altogether some 877 inscriptions catalogued in the book, but these include substantial numbers of incised graffiti on pottery. The catalogues also include some 544 painted inscriptions on vessels. Of these 544, just under two-thirds turn out to belong to categories which we can definitely associate with perhaps the best-documented of all ancient social contexts, the symposion. It is clear that the dipinti on Attic pottery are a unique source of evidence on ‘everyman's’ use of writing.

Keywords: Henry Immerwahr; Greece; image; writing; Attic pottery; vase-inscriptions; painted inscriptions; vessels; symposion; dipinti

Chapter.  6258 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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