Unlocking the mysteries of classical Greek pottery
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Unlocking the mysteries of classical Greek pottery

Research team member Anna Soifer, a Johns Hopkins Univeristy archeology major, applies the finishing touches on the painted inscription on the foot of a kylix, a replica of the Greek vases made about 2,500 years ago. Photo by Will Kirk, Homewood Photography (Will Kirk, Homewood Photography / Baltimore Sun) Few customs better illustrate the culture of Classical Greece than the symposium , a form of drinking party where men of social standing gathered to discuss the great issues of the day. As courtesans and others entertained them, they spoke and sipped wine from bowl-like vessels known as kylikes, red-and-black ceramic pieces long considered the quintessential form of Athenian pottery. But the cups also hold secrets of that culture, secrets that scholars such as Sanchita Balachandran are using new methods to unravel. Balachandran, the curator-conservator of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum in Baltimore and a lecturer in Near-Eastern studies, has spent the past year leading an interdisciplinary research team on a quest to recreate the vessels. The group has combined the efforts of art historians, artists, arts conservators and materials scientists, seeking an answer to a question that has baffled scholars for centuries: How did ancient artisans make these masterpieces? […]

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