Why is there still so much Ancient Greek pottery in pretty good condition when most other objects from that era didn’t survive?

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Why is there still so much Ancient Greek pottery in pretty good condition when most other objects from that era didn’t survive?

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Pottery does not rot or rust. There is not enough rain there for water or mold to destroy it.

They made a lot of pottery. Most of that pottery was destroyed but since they made so much the small portion that survived seems like a lot. Also pottery/ceramics don’t really oxidize like metals or rot like wood so they last a very long time in good condition.

Keep in mind, greece, rome and northern africa used pottery to store and trade things like olive oil, wine, etc. on industrial scales. In fact, the Roman republic and empire (which included greece) produced hundreds of millions of amphora (clay pots) for trade and they are probably the most common finds at any archeological site. It would be like future humans digging up our plastic bottles in 1000 years and wondering why they don’t find as many iphones.

Such a great question! My news feed just showed me that some Greek (or Roman?) artifacts were taken from The Met. There was a bust of a “Greek Youth” that looked like it could have been created days ago.

But I suppose marble is a rock. Still – it amazes me that we still find this stuff.

Wood rots, brass corrodes, bugs and bacteria eat cloth, paper is weak to all 3 of those conditions. Ceramics and marble don’t have these problems. They can erode. But once it gets buried in some way or placed out of the rain that becomes a non issue. Since the Greek didn’t have plastic, 90% or more of the stuff created by them is made from one of those materials listed.

Pottery of any sort is one of the most durable materials known to man. We’ve got pots that are a *lot* older than the classical Greek period. Also, pottery was frequently used as a grave good, so you’ve got a super-durable material that’s being intentionally (carefully!) buried and left alone. Finally, finding a truly intact one is pretty exceptional. If you look closely, you’ll find that most (maybe all) of those pots were excavated in pieces and then reconstructed.

Go look up the Portland Vase. It’s a *glass* vase from the first century that somehow remained basically intact until a drunken ~~English~~ British twit threw a statue at the case it was stored in, shattering it completely, in 1845.