Historical knowledge

Pots, Potters and Society in Ancient Greece

A research program hosted by the Collection of Classical and Near Eastern Antiquities

The research program Pots, Potters and Society in Ancient Greece is funded by the General Consul Gösta Enbom Foundation and the National Museum of Denmark. The project takes its starting point in the large and varied collection of Greek pottery in the Collection of Classical and Near Eastern Antiquities. The core of the collection is the Greek vases from King Christian VIII's Vasecabinet. After the king's death in 1848, the Vasecabinet became state property and part of the National Museum. Subsequently the royal collection - through new acquisitions and finds from Danish excavations - has grown to be the largest collection of ancient Greek pottery in Northern Europe.

Pottery used for storing and transporting food as well as for preparing and serving food and drink was essential to the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean. Pottery is  therefore one of the largest and richest sources on many aspects of antiquity and can potentially answer many questions about which written sources are silent.  

Research areas

Pottery studies have always been one of the main areas of research in the Collection of Classical and Near Eastern Antiquities focusing on Greek pottery from the Geometric to Hellenistic period as well as on museum-historical aspects of the collection. The project aims at consolidating and expanding these areas of research within two central aspects of research that are particularly relevant for the Collection of Classical and Near Eastern Antiquities:

An ideological/iconographical aspect: Greek iconography as a source for the life and thoughts of the ancient people, as well as pottery in a museum-historical perspective.

A social/economical aspect: the production of – and trade in – pottery, as a source for understanding the ancient economy.

The primary goal of Pots, Potters & Society in Ancient Greece is to bring together the existing methodical approaches to the above-mentioned research areas and – if possible – to develop new ones.

About the program

The program is planned for a period of six years from 2008 to 2013. The project includes a PhD programme begun in 2008 as well as involving Danish and foreign scholars who will be employed as post-docs or guest scholars. Every year an "Enbom-workshop" will be organised as an international forum for discussion of various themes relevant to the project.    

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