Ceramic standardisation in the work of an Athenian vase painter (the Pan Painter)

This placement is an opportunity for a student engage in metric and iconographic analysis of a discrete group of Classical Athenian vases, and to coauthor a scholarly article on the subject for a multiauthored international volume.

Department: Classics, Humanities

Supervised by: Dr Amy Smith

The Placement Project

Through her long-term study of the Pan Painter, an Athenian vase painter who worked ca. 480-460 BC, to whom at least 200 known vases have been attributed, Dr. Smith (the PI) has been invited to submit (by September) a scholarly article on this painter to a volume on ceramic standardization, edited by Dr. Antonis Kotsonis, and published as a special issue of the international journal, Bulletin Antieke Beschaving (Amsterdam). Dr. Smith has agreed to submit an article, provisionally entitled 'Large lekythoi and small pelikai in the oeuvre of the Pan Painter', that would be a comparative investigation of the iconography and size/shape of pelikai and/or lekythoi (amounting to ca. 40 vases). While most painted Athenian vases of such calibre are understood to have been individually created, not mass produced, many of the Pan Painter's small pelikai form a coherent group that show signs of having been created together/as a group; the same can be said of 'his' large lekythoi. Smith has previously published the idea that the Pan Painter was an independent vase painter who worked, perhaps freelance, both with and apart from mainstream painters and potters, and their workshops. Dr. Smith has already visited and studied most of the vases, but the comparison and analysis have to be done this summer, as part of the placement. If the 'standardized' vases can be connected to another workshop then we might be able to connect this otherwise elusive painter to some of his contemporaries. A contribution to this article will be thus a significant and original contribution to the study of the Pan Painter and other Classical Athenian artists.


Week 1: Introduction to the Classics Department, its Ure Museum, workspace, and Dr. Smith's archives (including drawings and photographs); selection of relevant materials from among this archive, resulting in a list of the candidate vases to be considered for this article; (hands-on) introduction to similar red-figure vases in the Ure Museum; background reading. Weeks 2-3: Assist Dr. Smith with analysing completed drawings, completing unfinished drawings, and measuring all (60-70%); secondary reading (30%); optional visit to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford to (re)study their lekythoi. Review Week 4: Continue secondary reading (40%); tabulate measurements and correlate with iconography (50%); distinguish standardized vases from exceptional vases (10%). Weeks 5: Draft article (50%); complete illustrations (30%); finish reading and other research (20%). Week 6: Edit and finalise article (50%); check illustrations (30%); prepare whole for submission to Bulletin Antieke Beschaving (30%). Review.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The successful candidate will have bibliographical and IT skills, some knowledge of ancient ceramics, and aptitude for visual analysis. Illustration and metric analysis skills, as well as previous study of ancient history and/or archaeology are a plus. Reading knowledge of other modern languages—German, French or modern Greek—would also be helpful.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

This opportunity will offer the successful candidate chances to acquire IT skills relevant to scholarly research: bibliographical (Endnote), organisational (online museum databases and Excel); and presentation, including image preparation (Word; pdf; Photoshop). S/he will also acquire skills relevant to collections and archives: handling some vase fragments in the Ure Museum in the Department of Classics (to develop an understanding of fabrics and shapes of Athenian vases); using and processing archival images and drawings; archaeological illustration (rendering). For a 2nd year student preparing to write a final year dissertation it will also be a helpful means of developing his/her bibliographical, communication, and organisational skills. This placement will offer the successful candidate a chance to significantly contribute towards / coauthor a scholarly publication. As the primary output will be a published research paper in a multiauthored international journal, the student will collaborate in all aspects of article preparation, including (A) research, both primary (analysis of the vases*) and secondary (read up on recent scholarship about ceramic standardisation and Athenian vase potters/painters); developing/organising an argument; drafting an article; preparing illustrative material and finalising the manuscript, submitting the manuscript to the book editor. The student will those learn directly about the real multitasking work of a researcher who is involved with material culture in preparing scholarship for publication. The transferable skills involved (IT, namely using databases and image software, research and interpretation, assembling evidence to support an argument, teamwork and working to deadlines, communication in the written medium, etc.) are essential not only for those interested in careers in academia but also any students who may pursue a career that involves researching and publishing results (publishing, arts management, etc.). * Based on Dr Smith's notes, drawings, and photographs of these vases during field work.

Place of Work

HumSS 39 (Ure Museum Office)

Hours of Work

9-5 (negotiable)

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Unknown - Unknown

How to Apply

Suitable candidates should send their CV and a covering letter to As part of the interview applicants will be handle and discuss analytically a complete vase and a fragment from the Ure Museum (they will not be asked to identify the vase/fragment; it will rather be an opportunity for the PI to learn how carefully and intuitively different candidates might approach ancient ceramic material).

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