Athenian Festival ware in the Ure Museum

This project will collect and analyse examples in Reading’s Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology of black-figure ceramics created and used as festival ware in ancient Athens, as a testbed for a larger project—Immanence and Innovation—amassing and analysing evidence of such ceramics from international collections.

Department: Classics

Supervised by: Amy C. Smith

The Placement Project

Many of Athens’ abundant but largely overlooked late black-figure ceramics were created as ‘Festival ware’, vessels used during and as mementos of particular festivals in the Athenian religious calendar, a purpose never yet identified for them. An important element of this ubiquitous ware is that it was made quickly and cheaply for particular events. Because of their relative cheapness, however, scholars, collectors, and curators have traditionally pushed them aside in favour of finer, more delicate, and richly decorated wares displayed in museum cabinets and publications; yet these smaller vessels lurk in the storage cabinets of museum and other collections around the world. Our book—Immanence and Innovation (University of Wisconsin Press, forthcoming)—will introduce the phenomenon and encourage scholars, curators, and others to identify and reassess such Festival Ware in their collections. Because there are many more examples of such wares in the storage cabinets of museums and other collections than can be published in this book, however, we are launching a bigger project to thoroughly investigate the phenomenon as evidenced across international collections. As a testbed, therefore, the UROP student will seek in the Ure Museum’s collection examples of black-figure Festival Ware, investigate and analyse their shapes and decorations, and connect artefacts with certain events. Through this investigation of a discrete group of artefacts we will design and structure a database to encourage public participation in the project, so that collectors and curators can bring their relevant artefacts to our attention.


Weeks 1–2. Survey the Ure Database and construct a short-list of relevant artefacts; begin enriching catalogue information on these artefacts on the Ure Database; search the museum cabinets and stored materials to supplement this list; survey the list with Co-Is. Weeks 3–4. Identify patterns across the selection of artefacts; plan further analyses with the Co-Is; research other evidence for Athenian festivals to ‘match’ artefacts to particular festivals (through shape, iconographic analysis, or other); select 9 artefacts for online exhibition; identify conclusions to be highlighted in a journal article. Weeks 5-6. Create online exhibition; identify basic information required of each item of Festival Ware; design (and construct*) public-facing database; draft journal article.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Organisational and teamworking skills; visual identification skills; digital skills, including familiarity with databases. Database and website construction skills desirable but not essential.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will become adept at all aspects of museum collections work, including handling artefacts, cataloguing them, organising digital information, and interpreting/analysing individual artefacts and groups of artefacts. They will also develop IT skills, especially database use (and perhaps creation*) and web publication. They will develop their research skills and learn academic writing, as well as how to prepare (and publish*) journal articles. *Publication of the journal and completion of other tasks might not occur during the 6-week internship but we would welcome the student’s participation in these tasks when they are ready.

Place of Work

The UROP student will have a work station in the Ure Museum (office). They are encouraged to use their own laptop if convenient/preferred.

Hours of Work

10-5 (note dates and hours are notional and can be agreed with the successful candidate to suit their needs)

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 05 June 2023 - Friday 14 July 2023

How to Apply

The deadline to apply for this opportunity is the end of the day on Monday 22nd May 2023. Please submit a cover letter and CV, with contact information for academic referees, to

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