. 2
( 8)


and social practice) with a 'pernicious' and 'perverse' anti-aestheticism and relativ-
ism which 'denies human sensuality and the value of the material world' (ibid.: 197;
also Taylor and Whitley 1985). I hope to show that this need not be the case.
The term is indeed a complex and 'overdetermined' one, subject to all sorts of
strategic and rhetorical uses: consider the entry on ideology in Williams' analytical
cultural vocabulary Keywords (1976). The different uses and contestation over
meaning itself implies that there is something to the concept, I suggest that the
apparent complexity should not be avoided, nor should there be easy and formulaic
applications (such as ideology is the distortion of reality which fools people into
accepting the status quo). Such simplicity and formulaic analysis can itself be an
ideological strategy, reducing particularity, making heterogeneity, difference and the
possibility of alternatives marginal.
So it is important to note the considerable and sophisticated discussion of the
concept of ideology as a counter to formulaic and rigid use of social theory in
archaeology. Fine and comprehensive surveys are those of Larrain (1979 and
1983), Eagleton (1991), Thompson (1984, 1990). Most discussion has been with-
in Western Marxism (Anderson 1976) - attempts to understand the cultural con-
struction of later and contemporary capitalism, and indeed societies prior to capi-
talism. An attractive feature, one particularly relevant to archaeology, has been the
argument that cultural production cannot be reduced to the economic. More re-
cently, particularly with and after Althusser (1971, 1977; Althusser and Balibar
1970), have been efforts to integrate a psychology of socialisation (for Althusser
through Lacan's concept of the 'imaginary'), that is to avoid reducing the individ-
ual to consciousness or social structures, but attempting to understand social prac-
tice and how people become social subjects or agents. Important here are the
implications of Foucault's connections between self and knowledge constituted
through discourse and technologies of power (Foucault 1980; and see Tilley
Given the apparent absence of the individual from archaeology, this is again of
great interest.
The ideological may work in various ways (Shanks and Tilley 1987: 181, 1992:
The design of archaic Korinth 23

as simple political or social propaganda, a distortion of social reality;
as a universal in place of that which is partial, presenting interests which are partial
as those of everyone;
as a natural and necessary order in place of that which is cultural and contingent;
as coherence, misrepresenting contradiction;
manipulating and referring to the past in making what is mutable appear perma-
The ideological may well be associated with the propagation of 'false consciousness'
- mistaken views and ideas of the way things are. However, according to my
argument above concerning social structure and design, it is often much more,
referring to taste, propriety, sense of correctness in the way things are done and
appear. Thus it not only applies to the cognitive, but to style, practice and experi-
A major conclusion to Larrain's studies (1979,1983) was that the significance and
power of the concept ideology lie in its critical edge. This is lost when the term is used
simply to refer to a body of ideas or beliefs held in common by a group of people. In
contrast to this positive use, ideology may also belong to a negative thinking, or
critique. Critique is to think according to the task at hand, shifting and adapting.
There is no methodology here, hence some of the problems with the concept
ideology. Critique is to do with the constraints to which people succumb in the
historical process of their self-formation, outlined above. These are questions of
people's identity, their subjectivity, power as people's ability to act and their subjec-
tion to power beyond them (see Calhoun 1995; Connerton 1976; Held 1980;
Kellner 1989 for introductions to a Marxian line of critical theory). This critical edge
which relates cultural production to power and interest foregrounds contestation:
ideologies are about constant reworking and manoeuvring.
So, ideology refers not simply to a set of ideas, or imaginary views of society, false,
distorting;, or revealing. The endemic interpretability of social structure means
ideology works directly on the negotiated and constructed character of society in its
relationship with interests and people's (political) strategies. It is best thought of in
an adjectival way, as an aspect or dimension of practice and production: ideological
structures are those which have a particular relationship with power and interests,
serving, working in those ways I have outlined (containment and closure) to achieve
ends in line with the interests of some and not all.
Objects have a particular relation with time. They are a principal means of
referencing the past because of their (possible) durability, their life-cycle. Through
durability and continuity of use, or through a tradition of production, the object can
provide a medium wherein the transient present is brought into a much larger
temporal experience of past-present, cultural order re-enacting its own self-creation,
the particular practices of people in the present lost in the whole. This particular view
entails an ideology of denying or making natural that which is subject to change.
Alternatively, the fashionable artifact signifies the present (and/or) future, as the
value of an object is related to transient knowledge and cultural production. Here the
dynamic of production and design is tied to a system of emulation (Miller 1982,
Art and the Greek City State 24

1985a; discussion pp. 38-9), as artifacts associated with a valued sub-culture or
disposition are followed by others in cycles of innovation by style-setting group and
imitation elsewhere. Innovation and artifacts are thus involved in an ideological
system of stabilising social difference (Miller 1987: 126).

Interpretive archaeology and relational philosophy
The previous sections dealt briefly with the character of design and production. I will
now move to an archaeological ontology through an outline of a relational philos-
ophy for an interpretive or contextual method.

Internal relations: multiplicity and the character of an artifact
This aryballos in Figure 1.1 only makes sense when related and compared to others.
Its (unique) identity can only be appreciated when seen as different from others and
from other things, qualities, experiences. Sense is also made of the aryballos by seeing
that it is similar to others; the aryballos is classed (Ajax Painter, middle protokorin-
thian) of style and date. These are relations between the one and the many, the pot
and its 'other'.
As I argued that the relation between the pot and its other cannot be separated
(into potter and pot, culture and nature, material and (social) structure, for
example), so I argue that the relation between the one and the many is as inseparable;
or, rather, the (sometimes pragmatic and necessary) separation is not given but
carried out under certain interests (analytical, for example). The relation is part of
the character of an artifact. One aryballos and many other things - here the word
'many' is adjectival. I mean that the character of the artifact is multiplicity - that is,
I look at this aryballos in a Boston museum. I can attribute an identity and unity to
it; it is not a stone or metal blade but a pot of a certain size, with decoration of a
particular type, with colour and markings, a particular ceramic fabric. I can relate
such attributes to styles of pottery (protokorinthian), to production centres, to places
where such pots are found (Korinth). This is not what the pot is. Ontology (being) is
in question. These attributes are not present within the pot, giving it an identity; they
are an extra dimension. Its colour may bring me to think of flesh tone in a picture I
know. Its painted strutting lion may remind me of my cat. The figures race round the
pot like 'motorbikes round a wall of death', as someone once said of it to me. I may
think of the first occasion I came across this pot, my mood or circumstance when I
did so. Others may find different things through the aryballos. All is shifting. It would
be better to talk of the piece of pot becoming rather than being something. It does not
have (a unitary) identity and being, so much as difference and becoming. The pot
connects and I am led into associations and periphrasis, metaphor (which asserts the
identity of difference).
The pot is old. Is it the past? Does it bring the Greek past to me? Is it a sign of the
past, its trace? Is the past its meaning? The past and the pot cannot, I am arguing, be
reduced to promises of communion with a definitive or transcendent meaning. The
meaning is here and dispersed elsewhere. The pot is always more. I may try to
The design of archaic Korinth 25

remove my feelings and perceptions and see through to what the pot actually is. But
its existence is simply and grossly material, and even its chemical and physical
composition lead me off into associations. It is always referred to something else; the
pot is always somehow absent. Where do I begin? How do I know which lines of flight
from the object, which deferrals to take? One answer is according to a law - being told
the 'right' chains of relation. This is the operation of discourse in creating identities
and knowledges. On another hand the (pot as) signifier may be subverted; instead of
the sovereign signifying pot there are webs of difference - multiplicity.
The reality of the past is not simply its factuality, its raw existence as fact, as that
which is there remaining after decay and loss, this aryballos. The reality of the pot is
realisation, the process of it becoming other than itself. It is from the past, but here,
changed, with us now, no longer what it was. This becoming-other-than-itself
involves the intercession of subjectivity, of the perceiving, feeling, analysing archae-
ologist, attending to interest. The pot is not defining itself as aryballos, as anything,
but depends on its relation with me. The subjectivity of the interpreter is the form that
the objective takes. It cannot speak for itself.
I am referring here to relational thinking. The background to this book is a body of
thought focusing upon the character of relations and their importance to the identity
of things. Hegel's idealism is one vital source (Marcuse 1955) running into Marx's
dialectical materialism, where I follow the reading of Bertel Oilman (1971), see also
McGuire (1992). Stress is placed upon the importance of internal relations. These
are defined as intrinsic to the nature and identity of items they connect; external
relations are those which could be removed without making any difference to what
they connect (see Bradley 1930 for an argument for the universality of internal
relations on the grounds that without relations nothing would be different from
anything else). Structuralism and poststructuralism have emphasised the importance
of structured context and webs of difference, other variants of relational thinking
upon which I draw (Leitch 1983 for an introduction; Deleuze and Guattari 1988 for
an application of the idea of connectivity I use).
The position taken here is that to know what something really is, what its concrete
reality is, we have to get beyond its immediately given state, which is a tautology ('this
pot is a pot), and follow the process in which it becomes other, something else, as in
the proposition 'the pot is yellow'. In the process of becoming yellow however, the
pot still remains a pot. This is sublation - the dynamic of turning into something else
and effecting reconciliation. I have already introduced the concept in relation to
Marxian notions of production. Let me expand.
Sublate is the word usually used to translate the German aufheben (Aufhebung m its
noun form) as used by Hegel. It is the central moment of dialectic. Aufheben is to take
up, save, but also to cancel, terminate, annul, suspend. Aufheben is a term used of
overcoming an opposition. I have already described sublation in the case of the pot
and the other, for example, the opposition between potter (social subject) and object
form. To sublate is not to find a middle way - a bit of both. It is to transcend or
suspend the distinction without suppressing either element. Sublation contains a
notion of preserving, and also of reconciliation. It means that artifact and potter lose
Art and the Greek City State 26

their immediacy, but are not destroyed by the loss; the loss of immediacy is medi-
ation by the other. So in the sublated relation the artifact object is mediated by
subjective factors.
Relational thinking maintains that things, states (like presence), and concepts
(such as fact and objectivity) exist in their relation with other things, states and
concepts. So relations are not links between things which exist in themselves,
separate from the relations. Relations are internal.

Non-identity thinking
The concrete world is permeated by negativity, and identity is otherness. Another
name for this is non-identity thinking (Buck-Morss 1977). The identity of the pot,
conceived as a substantive multiplicity, is produced as a supplement (in Derridean sense
too: Derrida 1974; 141-64; Yates 1990: 215-25), an extra dimension. It is the 'other'
of which I was writing in the previous section. For Deleuze and Guattari (1988:6,17,
21) the artifact as multiplicity is characterised by 'n-i' dimensions, that is a set of 'n'
relations without a supplementary dimension of 'identity'; see Figure 1 .2.
Abstract now comes to mean this aryballos devoid of (abstracted from) the
particular and negative otherness which gives it concrete form and which depends on
the mediation of my subjectivity. Common sense might have us believe that the pot is
concrete in itself, while following of the 'negations' of the piece of pot (tracing it
through its contexts, associations and relations) involves abstractions.

The artifact as assemblage
Clarke provided a classic definition of an archaeological assemblage: an associated
set of artifact types (Clarke 1968: Chapter 6). Here I am providing another use of the
word. The artifact, existing in these internal relations (with what might seem separ-
ate to its identity, beyond its unitary being), forms a multiplicity. The association and
displacement, as the artifact becomes what it is in our understanding, make of the
artifact itself an assemblage. Centrifugal and centripetal forces (of displacement and
association) make of the artifact an assemblage of particles of information and
connection. The forces are set in motion primarily through the intercession of the
investigating and interpreting archaeologist, their interests and desires. This means
that the artifact is defined more by what is conventionally conceived as the outside,
than by a set of 'internal' qualities or attributes (Fig. 1,3).

The creativity of interpretation
Just as the possible number of data points upon an artifact is infinite, so too the
internal relations of displacement and association are a threat of infinite dispersion. I
wrote above of the aryballos suggesting a line of investigation through the look of
animals, through pictorial flesh tones, through a dynamic of circular motion. Where
does it all end? I could say in an eventual loss of meaning, in absurdity, an existential
loss of sense in the raw materiality of the past (the question again of the raw substance
of the pot) and its dissolution in the present, in its material decay. This would be true,
but disingenuous, The artifact disperses as the interpreter follows lines of associ-
The design of archaic Korinth

ation. These lines can be of various sorts: they may be of empirical association (as in
conventional concept of assemblage), of conceptual alignment (circular motion), or
of creative elaboration (drawing cats). Which interpretive line is adopted depends on
the interest of the interpreter. The lines of displacement can be made to reconvene,
forming a new unity. Deleuze and Guattari (1988) write of deterritorialisation and
reterritorialisation: territorial unity dispersed and reconvened. How this occurs
depends partly on what the interpreter wishes to make; it is a creative choice, I refer
again to the primacy of (material) production. Dispersion and identity are matters of
design. Choices are always already given to the interpreter; particular purposes and
interests are already regarded as valuable (sense of chronometric date, operational
qualities of measurement in asserting identity, the artifact's 'territory') and may be
institutionalised; particular knowledges are pre-chosen. So usually the dispersion is
curtailed or ends in those identities and narratives I have outlined for the aryballos of
Figure 1.1 and which we know so well; this is the work of discourse. But it remains
that this is work of production, and other 'artifacts' may be made. This is the craft of
archaeology (Shanks 1992b; Shanks and McGuire 1996).
Much contemporary teaching of creativity in the fine and applied arts works with
such notions, as I observed and experienced at Newcastle, Cardiff and Carmarthen
Colleges of Art 1988-95. Dispersion away from an opening design brief and accep-
ted solutions, dispersion through 'n' dimensions of elaboration and transformation,
countered by convergence upon a viable production or artifact is a standard
methodology. Clifford (1988) and Hebdige (1979), writing on native American and
popular sub-cultural identity, provide analogies in (sub)cultural production - cre-
ative appropriation of material goods and reorganisation around constructed cul-
tural identities.
Nor does the element of creativity necessarily involve a loss of the empirical. The
facts of archaeological knowledge are created from observations of a reality, and,
given an interest in 'knowledge', the archaeologist may be able to recognise that
reality and master the technical aids that assist or allow us to observe it. But this does
not mean giving absolute primacy to the object past. In the interplay between
archaeological interpreter and object, both are partners in the final product. The
archaeologist gains familiarity through working with the artifacts from the past, but
they defy this familiarity through their resistance to classification and categorisation.
The archaeological record can never quite be captured or pinned down - there is
always more to say and do.
A conception of an artifact as assemblage brings problems to the notion that
categories of evidence are 'given' or somehow self-evident. A relational stance holds
that there are no natural units of data. I have been arguing that they are constructed.
The concepts 'artifact' or 'aryballos', just like 'site' and 'region', are complex and
determined, without unity or final all-purpose identity. The vectors of affiliation
break away from the familiar.
There is nothing 'natural' or given about style, date and context of social structure.
I would argue that their relation to the particularity of this aryballos is not a strong
one, because so much is ignored. These conceived aspects of the pot are a part of the
Art and the Greek City State 28

production of knowledges, part of discourse, and that is where they find their
justification. This is not to deny the relative significance of date and style and such;
they are vital to respectable, but particular interests in the past. Full use can alterna-
tively be made of the variability and particularity apparent in artifacts such as this,
rather than subsuming detail under high-level generalisations. I also suggest that the
interests in or desires for lost potter and 'society' are perhaps inappropriate. As
archaeologists we might rather accept the decay and loss of the past. This implies an
obligation of restitution, the redeeming act of reconstruction.
So, this aryballos is cultural material over-worked with association and filiation.
The question is not so much - what is it?, but - what is to be made of this aryballos?

Contextual archaeology
Context has long been recognised as vital in establishing an artifact's significance. It
has rightly been stressed that context should be taken to refer not only to date, place
and material location, but also to social context. 'Contextual archaeology' (Hodder
1987, 1991) makes much of associations, holding that meanings of things can only
be ascertained if contexts of use are considered. I am arguing that these possible
dimensions of context should indeed be noted, but not defined a priori. The artifact,
as assemblage, may define its own context through the interpretive encounter
(Shanks and Hodder 1995: 14-17). There need be no necessary or intrinsic context.

Constructing the past
In the background is a debate about the objectivity of archaeological (and other)
accounts of the past. That the past can be separated from the present, as epi-
stemological object from subject, that the object past is the origin of the meanings
archaeologists deal in, has been seriously challenged. This is often known as the
debate between processual and post-processual or interpretive archaeology, and is
often (misleadingly) characterised as a polarisation of scientific research aiming at
objective knowledge versus relativist interpretation in a postmodernist idiom (for
such polarisation see, for example, Binford 1987; Bintliff 1993; Renfrew 1989;
Trigger 1989, 1991). I will briefly attempt some clarification.
In tightly relating the observing archaeological subject and object past (the factual
past imbued with the forms, meanings and significances of the archaeologist), past
and present are no longer to be treated as separate temporal realms, but as informed
by each other. (Hence my proposal of an interpretation between past and present.)
The past exists as part of the present in terms of the aims, assumptions and
conceptual frameworks of the archaeologist; and these may be political. But objectiv-
ity questioned (as a guide and aim in the production of the past) has prompted the
fear of an incapacity to prefer one interpretation of the past to another - this is taken
to be relativism, with each interpretation valid in terms of the subjectivity of each
interpreter. Objectivity questioned may be taken to mean subjectivity unleashed.
The past may even be open to political manipulation, if disinterested knowledge is
These issues have long been the subject of sociologies of knowledge. What has
The design of archaic Korinth 29

been termed the weak programme is a sociology of error, explaining why scientists
get things wrong by finding some social source of distortion such as ideology or class
interests. Sometimes it is a limited exercise of studying the general conditions for the
growth of knowledge. This weak programme supports or excludes from its study
notions of the rational origins of genuine knowledge. So, for archaeological
examples, Nazi ideology is frequently seen as a distorting factor in racial theories of
prehistory promoted by the likes of Gustav Kossina; Trigger (1984) has related the
growth of archaeological knowledge to ideologies of nationalism, colonialism and
In the last twenty years a stronger programme in the sociology of knowledge has
developed, sometimes associated with the term 'constructivist philosophy', which
sees all knowledge claims as social phenomena, and does not distinguish social and
irrational sources of error from rational and detached knowledge (Bloor 1976;
Knorr-Cetina 1981; Knorr-Cetina and Mulkay 1983; Latour 1987; Latour and
Woolgar 1986; Lynch 1985; Pickering 1992). Apparent scientific truth and falsity
are thus to be treated symmetrically.
This strong programme is supported empirically by many anthropological and
historical studies of scientific practice (in addition to items just cited see also, for
example, Latour 1988; Pinch 1986; Shapin and Schaffer 1985). Detailed elucidation
of events like Pasteur's stand for a microbial theory of infection are shown conclus-
ively to erode the distinction between socially sustained error and rationally sus-
tained truth (in this case between Pasteur's truth and his opponents' theories of
spontaneous generation). There are innumerable social contingencies in the devel-
opment of knowledge, but, most importantly, this has been established regardless of
the distinction between true or false theory.
Philosophical support for the strong programme comes in part from Quine's
notion of the undetermination of theory (Quine 1981, 1990). With any theory never
fully underwritten by data or 'rational' argument, other factors, some psychological,
some sociological, some historical contingency, are involved in forming a conception
of the world.
Thus it can be legitimately argued that recent sociologies of knowledge are
effectively countering the traditional criticisms of relativism. Knowledge can be
constructed without threatening the security of claims to truth (recent archaeological
argument: McGuire and Shanks 1996; Lampeter Archaeology Workshop, forthcom-
ing). Indeed it now seems that the onus is upon those who deny the social construc-
tion, as opposed to discovery, of knowledge to provide what they need to sustain their
view of the generation of knowledge, and that is a transcendental origin of objectivity
and rationality.
I have made this short detour into constructivist ideas to bring me to three
conclusions. The first involves the creativity of our efforts to construct archaeological
knowledge, and includes an exhortation to think laterally in those connections which
sustain interpretation and understanding. The second is that there is an inherent and
irreducible pluralism in our interpretations and narratives of the material past. The
third is a temporal extension of the principle of symmetry introduced above: that
Art and the Greek City State 30

archaeologists are in principle no different from those in the past whom they study,
each constructing their own knowledges and lifeworlds.

Relational philosophy - summary points
Consider again Figure 1.1 and the question - what is this artifact?

Multiplicity It has been argued that, conceived as an assemblage, the pot has
dimensions (conventionally conceived as external to what the pot is) which provide
the pot's particularity. Crucially, these relations between the pot and its dimensions
are internal and are not to do with signification or being (the aryballos represents; the
pot is). So I would supplement a conception of attributes upon a pot with association
and displacement, understanding the aryballos in following lines of suggestion and
affiliation (subsuming signification - a unity of signifier and signified) through
design, form and decoration. An understanding of the singular or particular artifact,
such as this aryballos, is not only to be found in a separation of the one and many
(implied when the artifact, identified as one, is compared to many others, or placed
in a class with others). The artifact, as assemblage, is a substantive multiplicity.

Singular works of art? The paradox is therefore that the more singular and
'particular' the artifact, the more it is multiple. Is this not indeed the character of the
work of 'art' - an over-worked cultural product, referencing so much more in what is
conceived as, paradoxically, its singularity (Ovid (Metamorphoses 10.252): ars adeo
latet arte sua, art so conceals its own art)?

Classification and the articulation of assemblages Artifact classifica-
tion, and associated procedures such as discrimination and ordination, usually
involve an idea of similarity between artifacts as the object of analysis, with similarity
established according to attributes upon an artifact. I suggest also an agglomerative
and synthetic articulation of assemblages (Fig. 1.3). This is based not upon a sense of
internal, but external difference, though I should write external identity, according to
the argument for internal relations of non-identity.

Non-identity The assemblage of association and displacement is the non-
identity of the aryballos (a supplementary dimension of identity 'i' subtracted from
'n'):Fig. 1.2.

The creativity of interpretation Identity is asserted, not discovered.

Interest and discourse Desire, interest and discourse are instrumental in
initiating and constraining the dispersal of the aryballos.

Continuities of interpretation The questions raised of what the aryballos
is, its materiality, and relation to notions of pot, painter, style and social context are
resolved in the persistence of acts of interpretation. The pot is the product of the
interpretive act of potter, acting upon clay, interpretation of decoration by potter,
The design of archaic Korinth 31

Figure 1.3 Classification and identity. Classification may consist of asserting the self-contained identity of
an artifact defined according to attributes (a), or it may also involve following an agglomerative and
synthetic articulation of the artifact's assemblage.

trader and whoever placed such pots in graves, but then of the farmer (probably) who
found the pot again, the person who bought it and sold it to a museum, and the
scholars and others who have reinterpreted it then and since.

Past and present in symmetry The primacy of interpretation: a concomi-
tant argument is that style or culture are to be conceived as production, taking
sources and resources (clay, creative insight, decorative sources, skill, interest, desire
. . .) and making something of them. A homology is thus implied between potter and
pot (or rather clay), and between pot and archaeologist. This is the persistence of acts
of interpretation; it is a temporal continuity; there is no separation of original past and
secondary present.

Time and life-cycle The temporal continuity of cycles of interpretation is
the life-cycle of the artifact, 'economic' cycles of production, exchange and consump-
tion whose outcome is material culture.
Art and the Greek City State 32

Origins deferred There is thus no signified origin (the past or dead potter or
dead society), beyond or within the artifact.

Following tracks Interpretation of an artifact now comes to consist of
establishing associations (the dialogue I have mentioned), of building connections
through the assemblage that is the artifact.

A relational method of an interpretive archaeology
How is relational thinking put into operation? Rather than begin with the question of
what an artifact is, it is better to ask what it does, inquire of the social work of an
artifact. This may be reworded as what it connects through its design, exchange and
consumption. With the artifact understood as assemblage, the task is to establish the
(internal) relationships which make an artifact what it is, and to make sense of them.
There is nothing mysterious or new about this empirical method of following the
tracks leading from a particular artifact.
The following are four kinds of connection and some methods appropriate to their
empirical association (as in Clarke's concept of assemblage); things found
methods: inductive reasoning, statistical analysis (based upon data definition,
collection and classification)
logical links:
methods: structuralist readings, formal/mathematical analysis of patterning and
conceptual alignment, causal relationships, narrative employment:
methods: historical and social interpretation, semiotics, deductive reasoning
creative elaboration:
methods: abduction (Peirce 1958: 89-164; Shanks 1996a: 39-41) rooted in
exploration of metaphor.
This is heuristic and not a definitive listing; there are many cross connections. It is
necessarily an eclectic collection - just as in conversation, many different strategies
may be adopted in engaging with what the interpreting party finds interesting.
Concepts and bodies of theory play the important constitutive role of explaining,
making sense or giving significance to different kinds of link or association. They may
deal with anything relevant: for example, historical motivation, social practice,
economics and manufacture. Some, concerning style, design and agency, have
already been provided in this chapter. Others (including ideology, translation of
interests, technology of power, sovereignty) will appear later when needed. The main
point is that bodies of theory, tools for constructive thought, are essential.
Traditional qualities of scholarship are all appropriate and valuable in developing
the links running through an artifact's assemblage: wide and deep reading; familiarity
with 'the material'; historical interpretation and source criticism. Note should,
however, be made of two vital moments (Shanks 1996a: 126-8). One is critique,
The design of archaic Korinth 33

which attends to interest, working on the (discursive) relationship between object
and interpreter, past and present, asking questions of the purpose of interpretation
and ideological motivation, issues of cultural politics. The other vital moment is
creative interpretive choice, working against the strictures of discourse under the
practical recognition that interpretation is about exploration and possibility in taking
up the remains of the past to make something of them which enlightens, enriches,
edifies. After all, a conversation which begins and ends with a rigid questionnaire
may miss much of value.
Interpretation always deals with historical fragments. This feature is given added
poignancy by the character of archaeological sources as ruin in the face of decay. But
it is never any other way: there is never plenitude in understanding or explanation, in
the sciences or humanities. Interpretation is always provisional. This does not mean
that nothing of lasting value maybe said or done. This is not a pessimistic stance but
one of optimistic realism, that in the melancholy that is history we can take up the
pieces and make something of them again. The call is simply to recognise our
humility and reject the claims of total systems of thought to end history and know the
place of everything. In constructing our interpretive journeys there is simply more or
less material and time to work with,
I end this section with an aim of historical interpretation to create, in Walter
Benjamin's phrase, dialectical images. The term acknowledges the roots in dialecti-
cal thought of what I have been proposing - the construction of archaeological
assemblages (see also Shanks 1992b). Benjamin's great project, the Passagenwerk
(1982, superbly annotated and read by Buck-Morss (1989)) was to be a collage of
historical materials relating to Paris in nineteenth-century modernity, its shopping
arcades emblematic of an emerging consumer capitalism. A work of Geschichts-
phibsophie, the frictions of juxtaposition run structural, historical and anthropologi-
cal vectors (such as historicity, myth and the modern, nature and industry, dreams
and class conflict) through the intensely empirical and richly textured historical
The task of constructing archaeological assemblages is one of montage - the
cutting and reassembling of quoted pieces, of fragments of meanings, images, things,
quotations, borrowings. This process is proposed to be dialectical because of ten-
sions and mediation on several grounds. Something is taken out of what may be
considered to be its time and replaced in the coordinates of the interpreter's present,
taken out of its 'original' context and placed in another, with the aim of constructing
something new out of old. Such quotation mediates past and present. The paradox is
that the past is revered (with micro-archaeological interest in detail, in the particular)
in order to break with it and generate insight.
In so placing them in a new context, fragments once incidental and arbitrary may
attain extraordinary significance. Transient archaeological ruin, broken out of the
context of times past, may become emblematic, bringing alive the past by breaking
with it, renewing it. The perfume jar, once perhaps a mere aspect of the quotidian,
may, quoted in contexts it could never have known, unlock all manner of insight.
This is a redemption or rescue of the past from the decayed and moribund, with its
Art and the Greek City State 34

fragments turned into charged particles, electro-cultural elements of an archaeologi-
cal assemblage.
Montage may be openly constructive, preserving the integrity of fragments imper-
fectly joined, highlighting the frictions between the pieces, but the joining also
implies a continuity, perhaps expressed in a smoothed-over line of narrative, a whole
picture revealed through the fragments brought together. Past and present, represen-
tational images and artificial constructions, wholes emerge through the parts.
The broken pieces of montage attest as much to absence as to a fluid and coherent
story present through the construction and interpretation. Anticipating the presenta-
tion of the next chapters with their focus upon masculine sovereignty, the presence of
certain classes and gender positions may be marked out, but through their conspicu-
ous absence.
An objective passivity before the empirical remains, a necessary respect for their
particularity, accompanies a creativity like dreamwork, seeking and forging links
which know no necessary limits.

The assemblage of an aryballos
Let me anticipate the interpretation a little and show what I mean by drawing upon
what has already been mentioned of the aryballos in Figure 1.1.
- miniaturism - fine ware, technically accomplished - animated bodies - illustrated violence -
weaponry- animals and monsters - assertions of power- the geometric and floral - perfumes -
exotic design - travels out to sanctuaries and colonies - offering to divinity - deposition with
the dead. . .
Is this not a strange constellation? What is to be made of these associations? This is a
task of interpretation. Immediate contrast may be made with the familiar stories of
decorated pots, artistic genius, the (inexorable) evolution of style, impending Korin-
thian commercial success.

A productive map
For this aryballos in Figure 1.1 I begin, quite conventionally, with a life-cycle
(broken in antiquity) (compare also Kopytoff 1986). Figure 1.4 is a summary
diagram of the conceptual space suggested by an aryballos such as that in Boston,
from production and technique through to consumption, expanding from the pot
(circled point).
Figure 1.4 attempts to summarise 'design', a term which disperses into style, the
technical, economic relations of production, class, ideology and social or subjective
identity. Some of these may be treated relatively autonomously, such as technical
matters and workshop organisation, but all come back to the pot, its tracings through
production, style, distribution and consumption; energies, powers and desires.
There is no hierarchy to these questions, no primacy of the economic or of artistic
creativity over other aspects of design, and no pre-defined social context. And the
description of an aryballos immediately implies a constellation of concepts (bodies of
theory): style, value, ideology, class, creativity, identity, for example. As indicated,
such concepts are like tools for constructing descriptions and stories of design.
The design of archaic Korinth

Figure 1. 4 The life-cycle of an aryballos, a general economy from production to consumption. The pot
itself (centred in the figure) is the product of technique which involves questions of the possibility of
individual creative input into the design, which in turn begs the question of the control and organisation of
production. Questions follow about how production was scaled accord ing to perceived demand, questions
of patronage and information flow, as well as more practical issues of workshop organisation and
ownership. (It is assumed that it is meaningful to identify individual artist styles, but this assumption
implies much about the whole ethos of material production and is to be carefully examined.) The style of
the pot may be interrogated, from creativity of design through its iconography to its referencing of
structures of social relationships- ideology. This latter involves considering the occurrence of particular
designs (of violent figured scenes and decorative order) within their apparent location of consumption as
accessories to death and worship. The use of miniature figured perfume jars and drinking accoutrement in
ritual and religion suggests questions of the subjective identity of people who used such pots in this way;
what does it mean to associate such style with religion and ritual? That the pots were exported to be
consumed in such ways involves questions of value and the mechanisms which achieved the widespread
dissemination of the pots. This is not a simple matter of abstract exchange values and mechanisms. The
pots and their carriers engaged in the experience of travel. Referenced also are social distinctions such as
class (the absence of merchant middle class?). The possible functions of jars as perfume containers (oil for
body and dedication) and vessels accompanying drinking party reference lifestyle, as does the control and
organisation of production (free artisans or functionaries for social elites looking for stylistic emblems of
social status?).
Art and the Greek City State 36

The figure I present is a map through production, exchange, distribution and
consumption: 'economic' categories which disperse beyond the boundaries of the
economic. So this is a general economy of the aryballos. I draw this term especially
from Georges Bataille (Bataille 1977; Derrida 1978; Habermas 1987; Richman
1982), a major source for the ideas of social power which inform the interpretation to
follow. (Profitable comparison may also be made with Hebdige's presentation of the
post-war scooter (in Hebdige 1988), shifting through design, production and con-
sumption.) The aryballos is to be conceived as 'total social fact'.

Mapping narratives: interpretive beginnings
Considering this aryballos in Boston has led me to raise the questions of style and
design, and to digress into questions of the conception of an artifact, an archaeologi-
cal ontology. Concepts of assemblage and general economy describe the artifact as a
substantive multiplicity, an assemblage of internal relations through production to
consumption. The starting point is an interpretive choice, depending on strategy and
interest. The task I have set myself is to provide and plot pathways, lines of associ-
ation and dispersion.
Craft production in the early city state: some
historical and material contexts

Fine accomplishment, and risk (with an aside on the skeuomorph)
Let me continue with the aryballos of Figure 1.1. It is an accomplished piece.
Recognisably fine is the ceramic fabric, Korinthian in its smooth, consistent and
regular colour and texture. Slips, applied by brush, were turned to contrasting dark
by a clever, careful, and necessarily practised manipulation of kiln and firing environ-
ment (Noble 1988; Winter 1978; further references in Oleson 1986: 300-15). Clay
body and slip al so required very precise preparation. The techniques used to produce
Korinthian pottery are those commonly employed to produce fine ware in Greece
generally in the first millennium BC, from protogeometric pottery style to red figure
and beyond. The potters of Korinth were staying with a wider and old tradition of
fine ware manufacture.
The appearance is highly regulated; the workmanship is of the sort where achieve-
ment seems to correspond closely with the idea (of its design): lines are fine, precise
and regularly spaced, and there appears to be control over shape and height too.
There is a sense of 'prototype' or concept of' right shape' behind the easily recognis-
able aryballos (and other shapes too). This term has been used most usefully by
Miller (1985a: 9, 44, 166-7; see also Boast 1990). It is based upon anthropological
studies of categorisation (Mervis and Rosch, 1981; Rosch, 1976, 1978) and is related
to the concepts type and token. The strong sense of prototype makes possible studies
such as those of Neeft (1987) which concentrate on one pot shape. Emphasised is a
clear and explicit sense of correctness as well as tradition (though the shape of the
aryballos is new to Korinth in the seventh century). As with geometric Korinthian of
the previous centuries, the pots of the late eighth century and after were decorated on
a banding wheel (a turntable), and probably often with a multiple brush (Boardman
1960). All this affords a good degree of certainty that the desired result could be
achieved: regulated linearity. Geometric is the product of a workmanship of certainty
(Pye 1980: 4-5, 24 and passim, and on workmanship generally).
There is a change which comes at the end of the eighth century. The figured
aryballos here was drawn upon free-hand and then the surface was scratched or
incised. It displays immense control. But whereas the painter of geometric decora-
tion (which continues to be produced alongside figurative, when it is known as
sub-geometric or linear) must have been quite certain of achieving the desired
appearance, the precision and regulated accomplishment of figured scenes such as

Art and the Greek City State

Figure 2.1 Geometric workmanship of certainty. A pyxis from Messavouno Cemetery, Thera, and typical
later 'subgeometric' aryballoi.

these were achieved at risk of the painter's hand or brush slipping, and they depended
largely on the painter's individual care, judgement and dexterity (as opposed to the
traditional and shared technology of banding wheel and multiple brush). Pye (1980:
5) illustrates the contrast with the example of printing versus writing with pen.
I propose that such risk on the part of the potter is a significant reason for the
development of figured Korinthian pottery. The figures are painted free-hand with
silhouette and outlined features. A mistake in painting could be corrected perhaps -
the oxide slip wiped off. But the incision through the applied slip into the body of the
pot was a scar that could not easily be removed. Incision marks decision, finality, and
risk of spoiling the work's regulated surface and decoration. It also heightens the
appearance of regulation, with its ability to render very fine detail.
Whether the idea of incision came from metal working, as has often been men-
tioned (for example Cook 1972: 48), is irrelevant. Cook has added {ibid.) that an
origin in metal working 'would account for the unnecessary incising of outlines in
earlier black-figure work'. Such an observation supports my contention here that
incision displays risk; and the more incision, the more risk.
Relationships between potting and metal working are central to an argument
developed over a decade by Michael Vickers and then with David Gill (Vickers and
Gill 1994) that Attic, and perhaps more generally archaic and classical Greek,
ceramics were copies of metal vessels - skeuomorphs. Korinthian kotylai were often
pared down to eggshell thickness - imitating metal plate? Applied to seventh-century
Korinth, such arguments for the primacy of imitation of metal would undermine or
exclude the interpretations I offer here. Let me now counter the view that skeuomor-
phism is an adequate explanation of archaic and classical Greek ceramic forms.
I first argue that one of the main features of all design is skeuomorphism. Far from
being unusual, it is ubiquitous. Ideas are taken by designers and makers from all sorts
of sources and applied or translated into another medium. It is of interest to note
possible sources for design (metal forms, natural forms, anthropomorphic forms
etc.), but it is of greater note, I suggest, to consider the reason why such borrowings
are made. Here Vickers and Gill propose that Attic ceramics emulated precious metal
vessels, that they were cheap substitutes for high status items.
Craft production in the early city state 39

The process of emulation is potentially a powerful social explanation, as so ably
indicated by Miller for example (1982) as well as Vickers and Gill. But there still
remains the question of why certain designs were used and not others, and for
ceramics to be explained by reference to metal forms still leaves the question of
interpreting and explaining the design of metal vessels themselves. Reference may be
made to the inherent properties of a material (for example metal being suited to plate
and riveting), but what of iconography, for example, and what when the medium is
such a plastic one as clay (so amenable to many processes of forming and making)?
So the argument does not go far enough, even if Korinthian ceramics were in
emulation of metal vessels and nothing more. There is still a need to encounter the
imagery, the distribution and the use of ceramics. I would also argue that the concepts
of skeuomorph and emulation do not take us far into understanding design, making
and workmanship. The idea of incision may have come from metalworking, but the
interesting question is in what circumstances did it make sense to incise clay. There
are many ways to make a vessel look as if it were metal, and in this regard incising the
surface is not very convincing.
Two master ceramicists, Yang Quinfang and Zhou Dingfang, from Yixing, China,
made a rare visit to the west in 1995; I was lucky enough to witness their working
practices (also Wain 1995a). The design of the teapots they make is some five
centuries old. Traditional designs explicitly copy metal forms (Wain 1995b). One of
the potters actually uses archaeological bronze age pieces as inspiration and is known
for his teapots inlaid with silver.
Skeuomorphism is fully accepted: radically new designs copy leather, basket,
wood and bamboo forms. In making a teapot techniques are used which superficially
relate to metal working: beating clay and luting slabs. But it is superficial resemblance
because they are not the same techniques. These master craftworkers spend long
apprenticeships acquiring the skills necessary for working clay. Beating clay is not the
same as beating metal; luting is not welding or soldering. The tools and associated
skills are entirely different from metal working and have different traditions. Most
notable is the considerable effort in the preparation of and constant attention to the
raw material, the zisha clay. Metal as a source of a design idea, emulation as a social
urge or force may help understanding, but there is much more to the practical
knowledges of clay-working, the chaines operatoires (Lemonnier 1976; Pelegrin,
Karlin, and Bodu 1988), the apprenticeships and learning, the workmanships, the
raw materials, the aesthetic systems.
After this digression into design theory, let me return to Korinthian perfume jars.
This aryballos appears in two-tone upon the pale ground; there are two dark slips.
Such polychromy occurs infrequently, but regularly, with more elaborate designs; its
use is a mark of Johansen's style magnifique Johansen 1923: 98f). Payne proposed its
origin in 'free painting', that these designs were copies of wall-paintings (Payne 1931:
8, n. 1, 95 7; discussion by Amyx 1983: esp. 37-41); he relates this to the complex
scenes depicted. But slip on slip was used for many plain linear aryballoi (for quick
reference see Neeft 1987). I suggest instead that polychromy was another mark of
technical mastery; adding a secondary colour of slip complicates an already difficult
Art and the Greek City State 40

process. I am not aware of any study which has investigated the technical difficulty,
or otherwise, of producing colour upon colour, slip upon slip, in the black figure
process (Farnsworth and Simmons (1963) do not deal with the issue). But it is
something else which risks spoiling the vase (pers. comm., Michael Casson).
Korinthian potters opened space in the Geometric linear field for figured designs,
such as on this aryballos, which are intricate and complex. But a great increase in
time and labour expenditure is perhaps not involved; the key factor would seem to be
risk. Estimates of labour investment are difficult to make. Studio potter Michael
Casson (Ross-on-Wye) reckons a contemporary craft potter could throw perhaps
200 aryballoi in a day. His experience and recollection of the hand throwers in the
Stoke factories of the 1940s and afterwards lead him to think that they could throw
far more. Much of the decoration, like the pot shapes, is repetitive. The areas of
freehand and incised figured work are set off in linear friezes by border lines and areas
of repeat geometric and floral devices. These all require much less skill, dexterity and
risk, and could be undertaken by someone of less experience than the frieze painter,
an apprentice perhaps. The less precise and regulated handles of many aryballoi, and
their application to a more accomplished thrown body also indicates a subdivision of
production into throwing by someone of more skill, and the application of handles by
someone of less skill. Painters who have acquired the skills necessary for figured
painting in miniature are needed, as are new fine brushes (Casson considers this the
decisive factor), but the designs within the small linear bands opened on the pots,
with their predominantly 'confident' line (few breaks, hesitation, signs of holding
back), were probably quick to produce. Many indeed are 'hasty' and 'free'. The
workmanship of risked hand and brush is new, but occurs within a frame (literally) of
dependable technological and technical practice and knowledge.
This is mainly a miniature style: most figured friezes are only a few millimetres in
height, most aryballoi less than eighty millimetres. Held in the palm of the hand, or
between finger and thumb, the designs upon this aryballos are at the threshold of
visibility. The figured scenes particularly invite scrutiny and recognition of the
accomplishment of precision and regulation, and so by contrast the new mode of
painting. This, I propose, is the significance of miniaturism. It defines a personal
space within primary reach (of the human arm), close-up.

A sample of 2,000 Korinthian pots
I will be making reference to a sample of nearly 2,000 well-published and complete
pots conventionally classed as protokorinthian. This sample comprises all complete
pots known to me (1,951 items as of 1991) with figured decoration, and those which
have geometric or linear decoration (conventionally termed 'sub-geometric' proto-
korinthian) from the main sites of discovery. The sample is drawn in part from the
lists of Amyx (1988), Benson (1953 and 1989), Dunbabin and Robertson (1953),
Johansen (1923), Neeft (1987 and 1991), Payne (1931 and 1933). Beginning with a
decision to include no fragmentary material, each reference to a complete vessel was
followed to trace an illustration and description. Also consulted were all the main
excavation reports, museum collections reported in Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, and
Craft production in the early city state 41

minor studies, for stray figured pots and for complete linear or sub-geometric vessels,
although aryballoi are covered adequately by Neeft (1987).
Differential publication means that the sample is probably somewhat biased
towards figured wares and aryballoi (percentages of different types of pots are
therefore meaningless), but I attempted to include as full a range as possible of design
types in the sample. Given the art historical significance, there is good reason to
believe that figured protokorinthian will elicit publication, and that a heavy reliance
on published material will not be inappropriate. First hand encounter with many
protokorinthian pots is impractical for all but a very few scholars, given their
dispersion around the art museums of the world- a factor of perceived art historical
value. Nevertheless, the sample, descriptions and illustrations of many pots were
checked in visits to the major collections in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the
British Museum, London, the National Museum, Athens, Korinth, the Museo
Nationale Paolo D'Orsi, Syracuse, the Museo Nationale, Naples, and the Louvre,
Paris. So attempts were made to ensure that the sample was as 'representative' as
possible, though, as is usually the case with archaeological sources, the sample is in
no way a random representation of some 'real' population. The sample is the result of
an encounter with a discourse and its constitution of an object - protokorinthian.
Nothing is assumed about the meaning of this designation 'protokorinthian', only
that such pots were probably made in Korinth. An argument will be presented later
for the abandonment of the term.
Fine-grained classification is not necessary for the sorts of interpretation presented
here. Accordingly, and to avoid controversy, a coarse relative chronology was adop-
ted - earlier and later. Some further justification of this chronology is, however,
offered here.
The sample begins with the emergence of protokorinthian style (Neeft 1987:
17-19). This includes the appearance of aryballoi. There are stylistic changes to
other pot shapes (see, for example, Coldstream 1968: Chapter 3; Neeft 1975, on the
kotyle). I have not included pots classed as transitional (to ripe Korinthian) on
pragmatic grounds, that publication is not as detailed or complete. Nor have I
included the aryballoi with pointed base, scale decoration and the like, dated later by
Payne (1931, catalogue nos. 478,478A, 479,479A, 802A, 643-5), in spite of Neeft's
comments (Neeft 1987: 275 and Chapter 5). On the other hand, unwilling to accept
a fine-grained relative chronology based on stylistic criteria but mindful also of the
ambiguities of classification, I have allowed some geometric and transitional pots (as
conventionally classified) to slip into the sample.
I found difficulty in accepting the conventional chronological divisions - early,
middle 1 and 2, late-into which protokorinthian is normally split. Relative chronology
is, of course, based on the observed strati graphic sequence of shape and decoration.
But the number of good stratigraphic contexts containing a lot of varied protokorin-
thian is surprisingly small. The big Italian cemeteries, including Pithekoussai, are of
only limited use, offering some synchronic groupings and correlations (see Neeft's
review: 1987: esp. 301f). The stratigraphies of the sanctuaries Aetos on Ithaka
(Benton 1953: 255-60; Heurtley 1948) and Perachora (Payne 1940) were mixed and
Art and the Greek City State 42

only offer coarse chronological conclusions, the case with most sanctuaries. Even the
so-called Potters' Quarter at Korinth (Stillwell 1948) was not particularly well
excavated (Williams 1982:15-18) and cannot be trusted (Charles K. Williams, pers,
comm.); it is also lacking in figured vessels. Hence most of the relative chronological
sequence has come to depend on stylistic and typological interpretation of distinctive
figured pots. This is open to the charge of circularity (recognised as a general problem
by Neeft (1987:301) ).Stylistictypological analysis also often makes an assumption of
linear development. Morris (1987: 17, 163f) has heavily, and I believe rightly,
criticised some assumptions behind style and early Hellenic chronology on the
grounds that they do not consider social aspects of use (particularly emulation -
inter-class rivalry). Even accepting a sequence to figured decoration, most of the linear
sub-geometric pots are very difficult to place with any accuracy. This is not to deny that
there are recognisable changes in the design of these pots with time, but diagnostic
features are so often few or lacking (Neeft 1987: 315).
Consider Neeft's major study of sub-geometric aryballoi (1987) and his assessment
of chronology, a defining aim of his book. He assumes that a uniform linear develop-
ment is natural, and that exceptions are 'deviations' (ibid.: 260). There are however
stratigraphical co-occurrences of typologically more and less developed aryballoi -
conical and globular (ibid.; 305f; Johansen 1923: 17). And he summarises, 'dating
within the ovoid period on stylistic grounds (that is, on a supposed development of
decoration) is generally impossible because there is no single, rectilinear development
for the period as a whole' (Neeft 1987: 315). I take this apparent methodological
contradiction to mean that a general temporal trend of shape is discernible (Johansen's
globular to ovoid), but then chronological supposition becomes difficult. But this
seems to presume an independence of shape and decoration: Johansen's sequence of
shape is accepted as a starting point, while decoration of ovoid aryballoi does not
conform with it. As indicated, the evidence of grave groups is not at all conclusive.
Given this, these inconsistencies, the difficulty of assessing a presentation which makes
no use of quantified or statistical description, and a conception of style in accordance
with those I have criticised above (descriptive attribute and independent force), I am
unwilling to accept any of Neeft's fine-grained chronology.
It is for these difficulties also then that a minimalist distinction has been adopted
between earlier and later. This is approximately equivalent to conventional early and
middle 1, followed by middle 2 and late: globular and conical aryballoi succeeded by
ovoid and pointed or piriform. I still consider there to be a great deal of overlap.
It seems reasonable to accept the approximate association of the foundation of some
early Greek colonies in Italy and the style protokorinthian. Hence, following standard
absolute chronologies, the pots were made between approximately 720 and 640 BC or
later (Amyx 1988 II: Chapter 3; Neeft 1987: 363f). Again, though, a precise absolute
chronology is not crucial to my argument.

The aryballos in a workshop
An area out by the west wall of the old city of Korinth was excavated in the 1940s.
From the quantity of broken pottery it was thought to be the pottery production area
Craft production in the early city state

of Korinth, and has been named the Kerameikos or Potters' Quarter, on analogy
with Athens (Stillwell 1948). One of the earlier main buildings, from towards the end
of the seventh century, the South Long Building, was interpreted by Stillwell (1948:
15) as a stoa, a row of shops or booths in which pottery was sold. Roebuck too (1972:
121-2) has this building as part of a potters' agora away from the main agora of the
early city. There are no remains of kilns; Stillwell claimed they would be temporary
structures (1948:17). Presumed water channels were found dating from the produc-
tion of late Geometric pottery; one later is more elaborate, replacing those which are
earlier and less regular (ibid.: 11-12). There is nothing to connect these channels
with pottery production, but for Salmon

There can be little doubt that they were connected with i t . . . [they] are too
large in scale to have been built to serve a single establishment. The
numerous early channels were perhaps the result of competitive enterprise by
individual workshops; but by the mid seventh century they combined to
provide themselves with a common superior service.
(Salmon 1984:96).

He considers the Potters' Quarter an economic foundation and a

direct result of the rapidly increasing popularity of Korinthian ware . . . the
development of the quarter was a conscious attempt by an enterprising potter
- either accompanied or soon followed by others - to exploit an expanding
market by producing large quantities of fine wares with simple geometric
(ibid.; 97).

However Williams doubts (1982: 17-18) that this South Long Building was a single
unit, as claimed by Stillwell (1948: 15, followed by Salmon 1984: 101-2). For
Williams, this and the later North Long Building are better interpreted as part of 'city
blocks' of housing. He interprets the Potters' Quarter as a relatively self-contained
and well-populated residential area with its own cult-sites and cemeteries, in an early
'city' which appeared not centralised, but as a collection of villages, like the area of
Archaia Korinthos today (Williams 1981: 412f, 1982: 18). Roebuck too (1972)
envisages a village-based early city.
The site of the 'Potters' Quarter' seems to be a compromise between the demands
for raw materials and access to farmland (in this 'city' of farmer villages) (Arafat and
Morgan 1989: 315). Whitbread (1986: 391-2) has doubted the viability for pottery
manufacture of clay in the gorge next to the Potters' Quarter (contra Stillwell 1948:
3). He contends (Whitbread 1986, Chapter 6.6 and 6.7) that suitable sources are in
the area of the Anaploga well (ibid.: 383”4) and further north near the later tile
works, with the best clays being associated with lignite deposits (ibid.: 392-3,398-9).
I would however argue that the identification of clay sources is very difficult, those at
Korinth have not been identified with certainty, and no sharp association with
manufacture can be surmised. My experience of studio ceramics at Cardiff and
Art and the Greek City State 44

Carmarthen Colleges of Arc in Wales indicates that raw material is a very flexible
concept. It frequently depends not upon the character of a clay deposit, but on the
willingness to invest labour and energy in the preparation of a clay body of desired
characteristics. Consider this in the context of the variable and, for potting, difficult
characteristics of Korinthian clay deposits (Farnsworth, Perlman, and Asaro 1977:
459-61; Farnsworth 1970). Whitbread does suggest clay processing based upon
several types of clay (1986: 375-6), It is enough to say that there are sufficient
supplies of clay at hand in the area of Korinth, that transportation of clay from distant
sources was unnecessary (Arafat and Morgan 1989: 315), but the careful processing
of raw material was essential.
The deposits of the so-called Potters' Quarter produced only a fraction of the
range of known Korinthian wares (Benson 1984; Stillwell and Benson 1984). There
was a dump of workshop debris from the seventh century BC in the Anaploga Well,
to the south of the Potters' Quarter towards Akrokorinthos (Amyx and Lawrence
1975). Note might also be made of the discards from a later potter's workshop
found at Vrysoula (Pemberton 1970: esp. 269). There is the later tile works too, to
the north of the city (discussed by Salmon 1984: 122). It seems likely that there
were several or more places where pots were made in the archaic city (see Jones
1986: 175-89 for a general summary of traces of pottery production). The range of
wares produced in the Potters' Quarter, from fine clay fabrics to terracotta figurines
and tiles, indicates that a variety of skills were to be found there. On the other hand,
the absence of some classes of wares (particularly figured: Stillwell and Benson
1984: 10-11; see also Amyx and Lawrence 1975: 6-11), and the lack of any
candidates for a production site of earlier (late geometric) Thapsos ware (references
see pp. 65-6) indicates that different types of pot may indeed have had their
Estimates of the scale of production of ancient ceramics, based upon what has
been found of the output, are notoriously difficult to make. The most reliable
attempt remains that of Cook (1959). He estimated the rate of survival of Attic
Panathenaic amphorae, a pottery form produced in fixed and known numbers for
prizes in the games, as one quarter of 1 per cent (ibid,; 120). Cook's figure of total
Panatheaic amphorae upon which he based his fraction of those remaining has been
raised by Johnston (1987), but not enough to cause a significant alteration. Cook
accordingly suggested 500 workers were involved in the whole Attic pottery industry
of the fifth century, and half that in Korinth at its height of production.
Salmon (1984: 102-3) stresses that the Potters' Quarter specialised in mass
production. He also cites the apparently extraordinary numbers of Korinthian vases
(most later than the period of my study) found in the Greek colony of Megara
Hyblaia - perhaps 30-40,000 complete vases found in the period to 575 BC (Vallet
and Villard 1964), these of course representing only a fraction, and perhaps less than
1/500. I might also add here the high relative numbers recovered so far from Pithekous-
sai, yet only a fraction (1,300 graves, constituting no more than 10 per cent) of
the ancient cemetery has been explored (Ridgway 1992b: 46). Although the number
of sites in the western Mediterranean with Korinthian imports is considerable
Craft production in the early city state

Figure 2.2 The so-called Potters' Quarter, old Korinth; the cutting for perhaps an angle tower in an
archaic defensive wall is in the foreground; Akrokorinthos in the background.
Art and the Greek City State 46

(Fig. 4.1), Salmon concludes that 'pottery production was an almost insignificant
sector of the Korinthian economy even though many Greeks used the ware' (Salmon
1984: 101); he is here largely following Cook's figures for people involved in the
industry. Snodgrass (1980a: 127f) also notes the quantities of ancient Greek ceram-
ics recovered, and again plays down the importance of fine ware production, arguing
that the archaic economy was dominated by only a few activities: agriculture, warfare
and religion (ibid.: 129-31).
Stylistic attribution of individual pots and fragments to artistic hands, with its
associated style histories, assumes a workshop structure of masters and apprentices,
necessary for the learning and transmission of skills and styles. The logic of this
position has been criticised elsewhere (Shanks 1996a; see also Whitley 1997).
Differences in painting and style can indeed be identified, but this is a pragmatic
pursuit, one interested in discovering artistic ego and personality. Arafat and Morgan
(1989: 323) have criticised assumptions made of specialisation in the production of
Korinthian pottery: 'mass production is commonly identified on the basis of quality
of output, and fine work is automatically equated with small workshops and mass
production with "industrial areas" (Benson 1985)'. They relate this model to what
may be termed metanarratives of the discipline - overarching conceptions (in narra-
tive form) of the character of ancient Greek society and history (Shanks 1996a, for
full definition and discussion). One metanarrative of classical art history requires
individual hands and workshops producing art-works; the extensive distribution of
Korinthian ceramics and associated ancient histories of Korinth as a trading power,
with the supposed economic role of colonies, has led to market determinism and the
terminologies of mass production and industry. This is particularly evident in
Salmon's recent account (1984) of Korinthian pottery and its export. As indicated
already, he has the Potters' Quarter as a foundation of an enterprising entrepreneur
exploiting an expanding market. He also repeats the old story of the decline of
Korinthian pottery: mass production led to a decline in quality, consumers recog-
nised its complacent poorer quality, superior Attic wares were taken instead (ibid.f
especially page 111f)- Consider here also Coldstream's remark that 'the success of
Korinthian commerce must owe something to the high artistic and technical qualities
of Korinthian artifacts' (Coldstream 1977: 167). Market forces are often taken to
account for everything, as, for example; according to the old economic model of
Blakeway (1932”3; see also the standard accounts of Boardman 1980; 16f and
passim; Dunbabin 1948: Chapters 8 and 9). I concur with Arafat and Morgan (1989;
323) when they criticise this imprecise and unreflective use of economic terms. I will
return to general models of the ancient economy.
Arafat and Morgan (1989) have suggested another and more social approach to
the question of the organisation of the production of Attic and Korinthian pottery.
They distinguish four archaeologically visible factors which affect the level of per-
sonal investment in pottery production:

clay sources and their location;
the acquisition, practice and transmission of potting and painting skills;
Craft production in the early city state

necessary workshop equipment;
the spatial organisation of production.

Korinthian clay sources would have been quite close at hand, and those who
produced pots could have quite practically extracted and prepared day themselves.
Fine figured decoration required, of course, considerable investment in the acquisi-
tion of necessary skills. The skills required for throwing in miniature are also quite
considerable (Michael Casson pers. comm.). Arafat and Morgan remark that 'it is
not surprising to find a number of cases of family involvement, especially in view of
Plato's reference to potters teaching their sons {Republic 421)' (Arafat and Morgan
1989: 327); they suggest extended families as the basis of workshops. I would also
stress here the experience necessary for regulating the black figure firing process, with
its alternation of reduction and oxidising atmospheres at critical temperature points.
Miniaturism, as I have written, makes skills more critical in producing accomplished
pieces. Equipment, Arafat and Morgan claim, would not be an expensive outlay. But
I consider that quality of wheel and brushes in particular would be crucial for
miniature figured pieces, but not so much in terms of cost as design. Regarding the
spatial organisation of pottery production, Arafat and Morgan contrast the scatter of
facilities at Korinth with the concentrations in the city centre of Athens, perhaps
representing a 'distinction between the household and the household cluster or
village as the unit investing in such facilities' (Arafat and Morgan 1989: 328), oikos as
contrasted with 'suburb'.
The demands of the agricultural cycle in Greece and slack periods in the spring
and dry summer would suit a seasonal production of pottery; wet winter weather
would make clay extraction more difficult, clay drying, and outdoor firing less
predictable and controlled (Arafat and Morgan 1989: 328; citing Arnold 1985:
Chapter 3). There is a related issue of whether demand for pottery would stand the
permanent removal of a small but significant proportion of the population from
agricultural production. Religious festivals, when there would be an increased de-
mand for ceramic dedications, also came at gaps in the agricultural cycle (Morgan
1990: Chapter 2, referring to Arnold 1985: Chapter 6, p. 161, Fig. 6.6). Korinthian
was exported widely; trading ventures may be considered most likely in the summer
sailing season, again fitting with a seasonal production of pottery.
What are we looking at in this production of pottery in the early polis of Korinth?
Two centuries of connoisseurship have paid great attention to fine figured wares, but
what is the relationship of this interest to the significance of ceramic production in
the seventh century BC? Snodgrass points out (1980a: 127) that the sample of
recovered archaic Greek ceramics may be a reasonable one, equivalent to 70,000
voters in an opinion poll in modern Britain. It is feasible to estimate basic parameters
of the original industry, and here I wish to consider further the relative scale and
importance of the production of figured pots.
The sample upon which my study is based consists of 1,951 complete pots derived
from the main publications. Many linear or plain pots do not receive full publication,
and so could not be included; the numbers and proportions of these are not reliable
Art and the Greek City State

for estimating the division of pottery manufacture. Complete pots (and indeed
fragments) bearing painted friezes of varied figures, particularly incised, do elicit
notice and publication; they are significant to art history, are collected and achieve
good prices in the art market, they are chronological indices, signify trading links,
and may have iconographic significance. They are heavily invested with meaning for
conventional antiquarian and disciplinary interests. So the number which remain
outside my sample is likely to be relatively small. Of 804 earlier pots, seventy-five
bear figured decoration in a frieze or friezes (accounting for more than 25 per cent of
the surface). There are 122 figured, out of 1,147, later pots; I have not counted
simpler friezes containing only silhouette animals such as dogs (there are many of
these). So, in total there are 197 figured pots, about one tenth of the sample.
My sample does not include fragmentary material. The works of connoisseurship
and stylistic attribution do. Dunbabin and Robertson (1953), Amyx (1988) and
Benson (1989) found it possible to attribute 241, 296, and 294 pieces respectively to
protokorinthian hands or workshops. Even allowing for fragmentary material unat-
tributed to hands or workshops, relatively few figured pots are known, probably
under 500.
Cook's proportion of pots surviving is probably somewhat high as the Panathenaic
amphorae were prizes, special and valued. So if the number for seventh-century
Korinthian is scaled up by 1,000 (instead of Cook's 500), there were 6,250 figured
pots produced a year. To shelve this average annual production would require about
320 metres of shelf, enough to cover the walls of a large workshop.
Estimates of labour investment are difficult, but I suggest instructive. I have
already discussed workmanship and held that there was no major increase in labour
investment over the previous geometric canon of linear decoration. Figured work
was painted in a context of repetitive design (linear, floral, geometric; consider again
Figures 1.1 and 3.1, in comparison with Figure 2.1). Figured pots would be quick to
produce given a division of labour into skilled throwers and figure painters, less
skilled finishers {handles definitely, perhaps necks), and painters of lines and simple
decorative devices. There was a dependable technological framework, centuries old,
of clay and slip preparation, kiln building, regulation and management. These did
require considerable experience to achieve successful results, but only very fine
brushes would have had to be invented for miniature work. I repeat Casson's
estimate that a skilled thrower could produce more than 200 aryballoi in a day. Cup
forms are quicker by far: thrown accurately in less than thirty seconds by factory
piece-workers, specialised throwers in the 1940s; kotylai could be separately turned
down to their egg-shell or 'metal-plate' thinness in a few moments more.
So the production of figured and sub-geometric wares can be divided into the
following grades of task.

Low skill: clay extraction, clay preparation (according to formulae), weighing of
clay for throwers (crucial), water supply, pot handling, kiln building, kiln
Medium skill: slip preparation, throwing simple forms, turning and surface finish-
Craft production in the early city state 49

ing, handle and neck attachment, equipment maintenance (wheels and
brushes), simple turntable and repeat decoration.
High skill: throwing closed forms, miniature figure painting, kiln management.
This range would certainly suit household-based production and associated ap-
prenticeship, particularly since the skills are mostly traditional (by the seventh century
BC), specialised, but well-tried. Arafat and Morgan (1989: 317) conclude their
discussion of the organisation of Attic workshops with a unit-size estimate of six
members of an extended family. A workshop of six to eight people could easily turn out
several hundred fine Korinthian aryballoi (mixed figured and sub-geometric) a week.
The conclusion is unavoidable that the production of figured pots needed only a few
workshops. The character of the fine ware meant that the workshops would have
had a marked technological independence from the rest of society: traditional but
specialised skills would require considerable investment of time to acquire and
maintain. This would fit with production based upon a family or other kinship group.
Transmission of knowledge would be from parents to offspring, as a peasant economy
would have found a long permanent apprenticeship a costly use of labour; Gallant
(1991) details the economic vulnerability of the Greek peasant economy. Black figure
added a new but limited dimension with miniaturism and figure painting.
There is difficulty in gaining a reliable quantitative estimate of the remnant
remaining of early archaic Korinthian pottery production, both figured and Sub-
geometric, and therefore an estimate of total production is impossible. Many seventh-
century Korinthian pots which do not carry figured decoration are of simple surface
design, mostly linear. With or without the use of multiple brushes production would
have been very rapid. Consider again the modern production rates of hand-throwers
given above: a workshop could produce several thousand geometrically decorated
cups in a twelve-week season. Salmon (1984: 97, 111) does write that protokorin-
thian was designed for large-scale production, and this notion is found generally in
discussions especially of the development of Korinthian from smaller to larger
quantities and from earlier tentative artistic experiment to later application of easy
decorative formulae (for example Cook 1972: 50). But there is nothing at all to stop
the manufacture of standard and repetitive designs by small household-based pro-
duction units. I repeat the criticism made by Arafat and Morgan (1989: 323) about
unreflective economic interpretation. The consensus, as reported for example by
Salmon (1984), is that there is no need to envisage large-scale factories; a small-scale
cottage industry could quite easily accommodate the production of both figured and
sub-geometric styles. Full-time, year-round production again seems unnecessary.
In summary:
The notions of industrial districts in the early polis of Korinth and commercial
mass production should be put to one side.
The new figured and incised wares required the specialised skills of only a few
workshops. These need only have been small units, and they would have had a
technological independence from the rest of society.
Producing figured designs was an interplay of tradition and innovation in terms of
Art and the Greek City State 50

technique (workmanships of certainty and risk), technology (new brushes), and
design (the geometric and figuration, reintroduction and development of new
pot forms such as aryballoi, this latter point elaborated below).
A new workmanship of risk was an experiment of only a few workshops.
Elaborate figured designs were never more than marginal to the bulk of production
of Korinthian pottery.
Production need only have been on a seasonal basis, related to, or compatible with
religious festivals and sailing season.
The character of production is compatible with the range of skills acquired in a
small family-based workshop.
The workshops were spread round an early city of loosely connected farmer
Different workshops probably had their own specialities.

Pots and figured subjects
An aryballos has led discussion to the organisation of ceramic workshops in archaic
Korinth. To what extent is the aryballos in Figure 1.1 'typical'? What were they
producing? This section will present some general characteristics of the wares
produced in Korinth at the beginning of the seventh century BC.
Up to the last decades of the eighth century Korinthian potters had produced a
range of wares characterised by geometric ornament with very little figured design.
Within a generation new pot forms, as well as old, carried a much wider range of
designs, including figures, representations of animals and people.
The vessel forms are dominated by the miniature form of the aryballos. Other
shapes are listed here.
Closed vessel forms: perfume and oil jars, jugs and containers for liquids.
The aryballos, alabastron, lekythos, oinochoe, olpe, amphoriskos, hydriskos,
spherical vase and ring vase.
Open shapes: bowls and the like for mixing wine and serving food and drink.
The krater, dittos or lebes and stand, plate and kalathos.
Cups: the different names relate to the handles and body shape.
The skyphos, kotyle, kyathos and kantharos (the latter two terms sometimes used
Lidded forms: squat and tall boxes.
The pyxis.
An indication of how common they are in the sample is given in Table 2.1 (the figures
are for broad guidance and do not carry any statistical weight, as indicated above).
The pots were painted in slip with decoration arranged mostly in horizontal friezes.
In the descriptions and interpretations that follow the frieze is taken as a basic
organising unit of surface design. Some contain figures, others geometric ornament;
others are composed of lines of different weight and sometimes colour. There are
1,676 friezes upon 804 earlier pots and 4,470 upon 1,147 later pots in the sample
Craft production in the early city state

Table 2.1. Korinthian pot forms

earlier later
aryballoi 674 975
other closed forms 52 59
open vessels 33
32 38
lidded 'box' forms
total pots 1147
sum total 1951

Table 2.2. Types of frieze painted upon Korinthian pots

earlier later total
geometric friezes 1148 2145
linear friezes/surfaces 397
figured friezes 2127
199 199
components of figured friezes
2 9
people alone
21 49
people and animals
151 987
dogs 25 883
199 199

(totals: 6,146 friezes painted on 1,951 vessels). Table 2.2 shows the relative propor-
tions of different kinds of frieze: most are geometric or floral in character, but the
number containing animals and people rises markedly.
How is this range of ceramic and painted design to be understood? There is a clear
sense of decorative order {regular design principles giving a sense of distinctive style).
The vessel forms do form a complete range of table ware, but not in the proportions
in which they occur in sanctuaries and cemeteries; ceramic production cannot easily
and entirely be explained in functional terms of the provision of vessels for the table.
Nevertheless many vessel forms are designed to accompany dining and drinking.
Figured painting is dominated by bodily forms, animal and human; there are few
other features other than floral and abstract ornament. Some scenes are of hunting
and violence, races and contests, wild and undomesticated creatures and monsters.
Some have been interpreted as illustrations of myth (consider immediately the
aryballoi illustrated in this chapter). References to rural everyday life are almost
entirely absent. Influence is clear of elite eastern iconography (the beasts and fights,
rich floral forms, most obviously).
Table 2.3 records initial reactions to viewing the scenes painted in friezes upon the
pots in the sample. War, banqueting, drinking, hunting, contest: these are conven-
tional 'aristocratic' pursuits. It does not take much sensitivity to notice that archaic
and classical Greek style, indeed culture, was dominated by what may be termed
aristocratic interest. The supposition may be prompted that the pots are part of an
Art and the Greek City Scare

Table 2.3. The subject matter of figured friezes: a record of initial reactions

earlier later totals
battle 12 16
violence or aggression 10
8 2
6 12
man or men and animals 6
hunt 12 12
animals fighting (usually lion 7 6 13
attacking another animal)
2 1 3
lion attacking man
2 7
procession or race 9
beauty contest and judgement 1 1
36 15 51
parataxis or juxtaposition
6 3 9
figure scene of uncertain subject

aristocratic style, interest or ideology. More specifically it may be wondered if these
pots served the symposion? Awareness of critiques of ceramic value (that fine wares
were expensive items for social elites) may elicit an alternative, but related, supposi-
tion: that Korinthian potters began producing cheap wares attending to interests of
lower classes in emulating their social betters (Vickers and Gill 1994). I have already
dealt with the idea that black and red figure ceramics were skeuomorphs of plate
vessels. I can also remark here that the suppositions of emulation are premature. For
what of other aspects of design? What exactly was the character of 'aristocracy' and
its ideologies? How did the potters respond to 'aristocratic' interest? Was there some
system of commissioning? How do ideological forms operate? What of the details of
the consumption of style. These are just a few questions begged.
Eighth- and seventh-century Korinth: political histories

It was an oligarchy who called themselves the Bakchiadai. They ran the city,
and married only among themselves.
Herodotos 5.92bl
Diodorus (7.9.3) and Pausanias (2.4.4) record the transition from a monarchy in
Korinth to an aristocratic oligarchy, the Bakchiadai. The name asserts a claim to a
common ancestry; Herodotos remarks upon their endogamy: they defined them-
selves through birth and descent. Andrewes has doubted that there were major
Craft production in the early city state 53

differences between the character of the hereditary monarchy and the appointed
magistracy of prytanis: 'the political machinery of the monarchy was not much
changed by the Bakchiadai . . . their annual magistracy was not so different from a
king that the continuity of the system was broken' (Andrewes 1956: 48).

Wealthy, and numerous and of lustrous {lampros) birth, the Bakchiadai ruled
as tyrants and gathered the fruit of the market {emporion*) without stint.
Strabo (378)
Whether or not Strabo is rationalising later Korinthian commercial success and
providing an origin, it is clear that the spread of Korinthian artifacts occurred under
this Bakchiad rule, as did colonisation. Syracuse and Kerkyra were both founded by
members of the Bakchiadai (discussed by Salmon 1984: 65). There is also the story
of Demaratos the Bakchiad who traded with Etruria, moved there with craftsmen
after exile by the tyranny, and even came to father a king of Rome (Dionysios of
Halikarnassos Roman Antiquities 3.46.3-5; Blakeway 1935; recent discussion and
review in relation to Pithekoussai: Ridgway 1992a).

he will come crashing down on these men who rule as kings and wilt bring
justice to Korinth (dikaiosei)
Herodotos 5.92
In about 655 BC the oligarchy fell to the tyranny of Kypselos. Herodotos (5.92) gives
an anecdotal account of his parentage, on the fringes of the oligarchy (also Pausanias
2.4.4 and 5.18.7-8). He tells of his infancy when oracles from Apollo of Delphi (one of
which is partly quoted here, others below) predicted his tyranny setting Korinth to
rights (dikaiosei). Nikolaos of Damascus {Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 90 F
57), following fourth-century BC Ephoros, claims that Kypselos was polemarch in his
earlier years and popular for, among other things, his treatment of fines. The
revolution seems to have involved violence (Nikolaos, and Herodotos, discussed by
Salmon 1984, especially page 190) as the Bakchiad basileus was murdered. The
popularity of Kypselos seems to be indicated by the fact that he did not need a
Once in power, Kypselos exiled the Bakchiadai, confiscated and perhaps redis-
tributed their property, brought back from exile and restored enemies of the old
oligarchy. This is Nikolaos' account, but the restoration of exiles may be an anach-
ronistic view from the fourth century, when tyrants did just these things (Salmon
1984: 195). Herodotos too records (5.92) the exile of Korinthians and property
confiscations. Will (1955: 477-81) argues for a redistribution of land to landless
supporters of the tyrant, but with little evidence. There is evidence-(for example
Pseudo-Aristotle Economics 1346a) of Kypselos taxing for the purpose of dedication
at the sanctuary at Olympia, perhaps a colossal statue (Strabo 353 and 378). Details,
An and the Greek City State

as ever, are obscure (discussed by Salmon 1984: 196), but other early tyrants are
known to have exploited a connection with divinities and their sanctuaries (see the
standard histories of Andrewes 1956; Forrest 1966).
The tyrants' court, at least under the successor to Kypselos, Periander, was a
centre of patronage. Herodotos (1,23-4) has the Lesbian poet Arion of Methymna,
inventor of the poetic dithyramb, at Korinth. He is mentioned also by Pindar
(Olympian 13.16f), who claims temple sculpture a Korinthian invention, along with
horse bits. Pliny remarks that painting was invented in Korinth or Sikyon (Natural
History 35.5). Eastern links, a feature of several tyrants' interest, are indicated by
Phrygian and Lydian offerings in Kypselos' treasury at Delphi (Herodotos 1.14), and
by the naming of Periander's brother Gordias (Aristotle Politics 1315b); Periander's
short-lived successor and nephew was called Psammetichos, indicating the Egyptian
connection (Pharaoh Psamtik). Colonies were founded. On the whole, Nikolaos


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