The general standard of living and the burial customs preclude the placing of luxury artefacts in the graves of this period. On the contrary, the pottery which accompanies the deceased in their last place of residence is usually of superior quality. It is not coincidental that Athens during the Protogeometric and Geometric Periods is the most important pottery production centre, whose wares are widely copied and reproduced by all the other workshops.

The shapes of the pots are mostly novel: amphora with handles on the neck, amphora with handles on the belly, oinochoe, pyxis and oviform pyxis, kantharos, skyphos, krater; these are decorated with geometric patterns, mostly concentric semicircles and circles drawn with the use of compasses. The pottery is light-coloured, in the clay’s hue, and the decoration is added with a silky dark glaze.

The cremation of a warrior from a site 100 m south of the Agora landmark, which still stands on the corner of the Middle Stoa, belongs to the period of transition towards the Geometric style. The cremation pit contained a large cinerary urn featuring handles on the neck and covered by a large stone, while the deceased warrior’s iron sword was wrapped around the base of the handles. The pit also contained a skyphos, an oinochoe as well as a series of iron weapons (arrowheads, spearheads, battle-axe) as well as two horse reins, indicating that the dead person belonged to the upper social class of the horsemen.

The Geometric represents an evolution of the Protogeometric style. It appears in the main cemeteries of Athens, the Kerameikos and the Agora, from approx. 900 BC. It is divided in three phases, Early, Middle and Late Geometric. The early phase is further divided in two sub-phases, Early Geometric 1 (900-880) and 2 (880-850), respectively. During the Early Geometric 1 phase, the shapes of the Protogeometric period are preserved, but the circular or semicircular decorative pattern on the vessel’s belly is abandoned. Now only one central decoration is used in the zone of the handles and one smaller in the area of the neck; the meander and the battlements are distinctive decorative motifs, while the rest of the surface is covered in dark glaze. One of the most characteristic pots from this period is an amphora with handles on the belly unearthed in the site of a woman's cremation dated to approx. 900 BC.

The grave also contained a series of small pots (pyxis, lekythoi, oinochoai, skyphoi), as well as two pairs of clay models of footwear, which probably symbolised the journey to the Underworld.
During the Early Geometric 2 period there is a tendency towards less austerity in the arrangement of the decorative elements. Apart from the amphorae, most characteristic shapes are the kantharos, the skyphos, the one-handled cup and the oinochoe.< A typical male burial of the period contained an amphora with handles on the neck, three lekythia and a spherical pyxis.

During the Middle Geometric Period (850-760), there is an abrupt change in the material culture of Athens. It is not so much related to the differentiation of the arts, which continue to evolve smoothly, with the transition to Middle Geometric Pottery, but mainly to the dramatic enrichment of the material culture, most likely due to the resumption of contacts with the East, but also with Cyprus and Crete.

This tendency is evident in the famous grave of the ‘Wealthy Athenian Woman’ which was excavated in 1967 at the foot of the Areios Pagos. The pit contained a cinerary urn carrying the cremated bones of a pregnant woman, who was accompanied by uncommonly rich funerary gifts, an indication, perhaps, of her elevated social status: the cinerary urn is a large amphora with handles on the belly and decoration on the handles zone, which consists of linear geometric patterns and successive circles inscribing a cross, and of a secondary decoration zone on the neck with successive zigzags. There is also a pyxis which culminates in five models of granaries, pots of smaller dimensions, a silver vessel, faience and gold jewellery.

The pottery of the period represents the epitome of the Geometric style. During the Middle Geometric 1 (850-800), the decoration zones cover the entire periphery of the pot, even under the handles. The black-coloured surfaces tend to diminish, and, while they cover a large part of the pot, they are not dominant. The main decoration is placed on the pot’s neck, at the height of the handles. The decorative elements remain unaltered with respect to the previous period; there is a tendency, however, towards greater decorative complexity, while the curvilinear decorations also return, especially in the large amphorae which are used as cinerary urns.

During the second phase of the Middle Geometric Pottery (800-760), there is an increase of output, also testified in the Athenian Agora, which is undoubtedly related to developments in demographics. A shape typical of this period, which also occurs in the Athenian Agora, is the spherical pyxis with a lid crowned by up to four horse figurines; this is a characteristic shape which occurs in male burials.

The Late Geometric Period (760-700) is characterised by the appearance of figurative representations and signals the birth of Greek Art, with its emphasis on the human figure and its activities. It is correlated with a series of discoveries and innovations, like the birth of the Epic poems, the adoption of the alphabet and writing, the colonisation of the West, the foundation of the Pan-Hellenic Sanctuaries and the intensification of commercial exchanges with the East.

The potters of this period depict the human body as a geometric entity: head, torso and lower limbs obey the ratio 1: 2: 4 (that is, the head equals 1/7 of the body, the torso 2/7 and the legs 4/7). The figures are represented using the method of shading, the legs in side view and the torso in frontal view, as an inverted triangle. In every figure both legs and arms are observable. Generally, the figures are extremely lean and tall; they have no differentiating sexual features, apart from the clothing for dead women. There is no depiction of genitalia or breasts. In the chariots, the two horses are represented with one body and two heads, 4 legs, while the wheels are depicted one behind the other. The figures of the horses are characteristic (extremely long necks, clearly drawn manes).

The repertoire of the potters stretches from the purely burial themes (prothesis of the deceased, i.e. laying out of the dead person on a couch, and obsequies), to scenes of rites (dances, music), and depictions of the everyday activities of the Athenians of the period. A unique scene, apparently inspired by the relevant myth, occurs on an oinochoe from a grave near the Tholos. It depicts a line of warriors engaging two ‘Siamese twins’ who are mounting a chariot. These figures are thought to be the Moliones, Hercules’ and Nestor’s of Pylos mythical opponents. The pot featured four circular apertures through which two clay pipes passed. No convincing explanation has been provided for this strange ritual.

Apart from pottery painting, which is the main art form of the period, in 8th cent. burials at the Agora we have the reappearance of sculpted figures, mainly statuettes of mourners, offerings which the relatives and friends of the deceased cast into the funeral pyres. These are decorated using the pottery painting techniques and depict mourning persons.

1.  Pottery from the 10th cent. BC Early Geometric children’s grave. Agora Museum, P 23356-23560 (lekythoi and oinochoe). (Wycherley, Thompson, pl. 19b).
2.  Pictorial representation from a Late Protogeometric or Early Geometric Period warrior’s burial. 900 BC. (Camp, p. 49, pic. 17). 
3.  Pottery from an Early Geometric 1grave: Agora Museum P 19228-19229, 19231-19232, 19234-19235, 19241-19243, 19249-19250 (Immerwahr, fig. 37).
4.  Pottery from an Early Geometric 2 grave: Agora Museum P 27630-27634 (Immerwahr, fig. 41).
5.  Pictorial representation from the grave of the ‘Wealthy Athenian Woman’, late Early Geometric Period (850 BC) (Camp, p. 48, pic. 15).
6.  Agora Museum P 27646. Clay pyxis from the grave of the ‘Wealthy Athenian Woman’, covered by five models of granaries. Camp, p. 48, pic. 16). 
7.  Agora Museum P 27629. Large amphora with handles on the belly from the grave of the ‘Wealthy Athenian Woman’. Used as a cinerary urn. Height:0.715 (Wycherley, Thompson, pl. 21).
8.  Golden ear-ring with granulation from the grave of the ‘Wealthy Athenian Woman’ (850 BC). (Wycherley, Thompson, pl. 22b).
9.  Agora Museum.  Late Geometric pyxis bearing three horse figurines on its circular lid. (Camp, p. 49, pic. 18).
10 Athens Museum P 4885. Oinochoe dated to 730 BC, from a grave close to the Tholos (The Human figure in Early Greek Art, Washington 1988, p. 79, no. 12. (Wycherley, Thompson, pl. 24).
11. Agora Museum T 807. Statuette of a mourner dated to approx. 750-700 BC. (Thompson, D.B., Miniature Sculpture from the Agora, Princeton 1967, pl. 8). 

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