May 3, 2013

Learn how scientists, art historians, and conservators are working together through the Athenian Pottery Project to better understand the materials and techniques used by artisans to create this iconic pottery.

Project team members David Saunders, Jeffrey Maish, Marc Walton, and Brendan Foran gave an overview of the research methods and discussed how the study of materials and techniques provides insight into ancient ceramic technology, artistic expression and workshop practice.

Athenian Pottery Project

Black- and red-figure Athenian pottery from the sixth through the fourth centuries was produced by a sophisticated and large-scale ceramic industry. However, despite years of study, aspects of the technology used by ancient craftsmen to create the shiny black decorated surfaces—known as black gloss—remain a mystery.

The Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, in collaboration with scientists from The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California and SLAC, Stanford University's National Accelerator Facility in Menlo Park, California, are bringing together modern high-tech scientific analysis with art historical insight and technical observations to investigate these vessels.

Athenian Pottery Project team members

David Saunders is assistant curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. As a member of the Athenian Pottery Project team, David advises in the selection of sherds for study, and the contextualization of the results and analysis.

Jeffrey Maish is associate conservator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. As a member of Athenian Pottery Project team, Maish's focus is in the microscopic imaging and characterization of incised black-figure and painted red-figure elements.

Marc Walton is an associate scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute. Walton overseas the scientific direction of the Athenian Pottery Project.

Brendan Foran is a laboratory manager within the microelectronics technology department at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California. He is the co-principal investigator and science director of the Athenian Pottery Project.

Last updated: June 2013