For generations, Greek archaeologists interested in ceramics have mostly focused on the “pretty” kind, usually painted vessels that have been assumed to have changed quickly over time, making them good chronological indicators. Cooking pots and other plainer vessels have received much less attention. More recently, however, as we have started to focus on questions about how people in ancient cultures used objects and activities to build their own identities and shape their lives, we have started to realize that the “ugly” pottery is far more important than it traditionally has been considered to be.
One of the main ways that has happened is that we now recognize that feasting and food consumption practices were critically important in antiquity. Both hosts and attendees used food as a means to practice and display their economic, political, ritual, and social personas. For the prehistoric period, we have limited textual evidence for cuisine and for feasts, but we have vast quantities of the kinds of pottery used to cook, serve, and consume food. By examining the types of pots used at different sites, we can reconstruct what was cooked, how it was cooked, how it was served, and how each of these issues varied based on the socioeconomic class of the people consuming the food.
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