Greek Geometric Period

The geometric period is the first of the periods into which ancient Greek history is divided and extends chronologically from 900 BC to 700 BC. The Greek art of this period, which succeeded the Mycenaean art, was named after the type of pottery decoration, given that pottery is the most abundant and easily recognisable material remains of that era. The first phase of the Geometric period (1050-900 BC) is called Proto-Geometric. The geometric era is divided into the Early Geometric (900-850 BC), the Middle Geometric (850-760 BC), the Late Geometric I (760 - 735 BC, also known as mature geometric period), and the Late Geometric II (735 -700 BC).

The terms "geometric period" and "geometric art" were first introduced in the late 19th century by the German archaeologist Alexander Conze, who noticed the geometric decorations on the pottery and in general the geometric nature of all artistic or non-artistic creations of that time. Since then, the term has prevailed to identify not only the decorated pottery, but art generally, and by extension, the period from the late 11th to the end of the 8th century BC.

No plastic arts have been preserved from that age, since the social conditions and the artistic know-how would not allow it. Similarly, the architecture of that period has no monumental character. The only monumental artworks of this period were large vessels, such as amphorae and craters, which were higher than one metre and were used as grave markers.

The main feature of Geometric style pottery is that the surface of the vessels is covered by dark linear motifs arranged in zones. The basic Geometric style motifs featured on vessels and other utensils of the time are the following, among others: circles, semicircles, zigzags, curved lines, and rhombi, chequer-board patterns, meanders, crosses, and swastikas. In contrast to earlier periods, the Geometric period is characterised by a rigorous, mathematical reasoning, since mathematical instruments, such as the ruler and the compass, are used to render the decorative motifs. At the same time, the clay of the pottery and the black glaze used for the decorative motifs have improved in quality.