Fragment from a black-figure pottery lekythos, 500 B.C

A lekythos is a jug with a single wide handle and a narrow neck combined with a wide mouth, which allowed it to control the amount of oil. It was used to contain oils and is generally associated with funeral rituals, as the body has been found with several lekythos in various burials. They are also intimately associated with purification rituals and feminine hygiene sessions, as they were part of the everyday furniture. This fragment of Lekytos is of black figures on a red background which was obtained by means of a singular method of elaboration. The Greek vases were made of a clear clay rich in coarse iron that turned reddish orange when cooked. The design was sketched in general lines, then filled using refined clay as paint. Details were added with an engraving tool, scraping through the paint layer to the clay below. The glass was baked in a kiln at a temperature of about 800º C, with the consequent oxidation, turning the ceramics into a reddish orange color. The temperature was increased to about 950º C with the oven openings closed and with green wood added to remove the oxygen. The glass became completely black. The final stage required the openings to be reopened to allow oxygen to enter the oven, to allow it to cool. The piece returned to its orange colour due to the renewed oxidation, while the painted layer remained the satin black colour created in the second stage.


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