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Professional and part-time potters and painters: modelling the production of Athenian black- and red-figure painted pottery

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This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the production dynamics within the Kerameikos during the major period of black- and red-figure pottery production (600–350 BCE). Employing a statistical approach, this study explores the intricate interplay between the workflows of full-time and part-time painters and potters, and the nature of their respective tasks. By using Monte Carlo methods to estimate quantities, including the number of pots created annually and the required hours for painting, the statistical data generated not only support a complex and time-critical model for the potting industry, but the limits on the plausibility for some of these scenarios are also considered. These quantitative estimates are then situated within the context of the pottery production chaîne-opératoire to consider the seasonality of the various professions of pottery production. A case is made for the existence of permanent painters managing a backlog of pottery while part-time potters shifted between potting and painting (and other tasks), while the concept of project management is also discussed; it is suggested that a critical role of the κεραμεύς extended beyond mere craftsmanship to orchestrating workflows.



Journal Title

Journal of Hellenic Studies

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Cambridge University Press

Publisher DOI

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Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2022-015)