ISSN: 2074-8132
ISSN: 2074-8132
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Comparative anthropological characteristics of Attic white-ground vase painting

Comparative anthropological characteristics of Attic white-ground vase painting

DOI: 10.55959/MSU2074-8132-24-1-12

Recieved: 01/29/2024

Accepted: 02/14/2024

Published: 02/21/2024

Keywords: anthropology; Attic vase painting; white-ground vase painting; hellenistic mural painting; polychrome; antique Greek; ancient Greek pigmentation

Available online: 21.02.2024

To cite this article

Shpak Larisa Yu. Comparative anthropological characteristics of Attic white-ground vase painting. // Lomonosov Journal of Anthropology 2024. Issue 1. 134-145

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). (
Issue 1, 2024


Introduction. Of the numerous ceramic production centers of ancient Greece, the Attica region is notable for its continuous development of vase painting styles. Compared to the black-figure and red-figure painting techniques, the polychrome painting of Attic vases on a white-ground may indicate polymorphism in the pigmentation of the ancient Greeks.

Materials and methods. The material was collected in digitized museum collections and thematic literature. The color and nature of the characters' hair were studied from vase painting and funerary painting. Anthroposcopic method and simple statistics were used. The significance of differences between groups was assessed using the chi-square test.

Results and discussion. In all samples of Attic vase painting, the wavy nature of the hair is predominant, and this frequency does not change significantly over time. The highest frequency of straight nature of the hair (13.3%) is observed in white-ground vase painting. In comparison with the characters in vase paintings, modern Greeks have predominantly straight, lightly wavy hair, especially in women, and then wavy hair. For all style groups of Attic vase painting, no gender differences in nature of the hair were identified. The depiction of hair color on white-ground vase paintings of the early classical and classical times is significantly different: in the earlier vase painting, black and dark brown predominate, and in the later ones, brown/light brown and red-brown. The minimum frequency of dark shades of the hair is noted in Hellenistic funerary painting; it shows, like the white-ground vase painting of the classics, a lighter-pigmented population. The hair color of the modern Greek population is predominantly dark. Based on the hypothesis that the artist depicts familiar forms as traditional ones and reflects the anthropological characteristics of his group, the polymorphism of pigmentation and nature of the hair of the ancient and modern Greek populations is different.

Conclusion. Groups of art sources that differ in chronology and style do not represent the hair pigmentation of the population of ancient Greece in the same way. To further study polymorphism of pigmentation of the ancient population, it is necessary to correct the methodology to correlate the actual colors used in vase/mural painting with the hair color classes of the traditional color scale, as well as the use of additional comparative materials.

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