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The Berlin Painter and his Potters

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XANES spectroscopy was used to complement the results previously obtained with Raman spectroscopy by the same group to determine the firing conditions used in the production of a single vessel painted by the Berlin Painter in the 5th century B.C. The vessel, part of the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, presents a complicated layered architecture of black and red gloss, with different stratigraphies present on the interior and exterior surfaces. The study of two samples, one each from the interior and exterior surface of the vessel, was performed with the complementary analytical techniques of X-ray nano- and micro spectroscopy (X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and full-field transmission X-ray micro spectroscopy (FF-XANES) across the Fe K edge), and supported by a replication study. The replicates, made in a laboratory furnace providing complete control over the firing temperature and oxygen partial pressure, provided a paradigm for the comparison of the mineralogical phases observed in the ancient samples, which led to a deeper understanding of the firing conditions necessary for the production of the Berlin Painter's vessel. Our results confirm the necessity of multiple firings and painting applications to obtain the Berlin Painter's architecture and provide a further example of the multiplicity of techniques and practices employed by the potters of the Kerameikos in ancient Athens.
A small Attic red-figure cup of considerable charm was recently acquired by a private collector in Hamburg. It is decorated outside as well as inside and has been mended from several fragments. The tondo and foot are undamaged, but a few minor rim fragments are missing, the largest robbing us of part of the central horseman: gone are the back of his neck, his right shoulder, the upper part of his right arm, most of the pelta and a section of the spear shafts, as well as three letters from the inscription. The surface is in superb condition, despite one or two chips and the slight flaking under the right hand of the woman on the interior. The measurements of the cup are as follows: height 7.2 cm, diameter without handles 19.5 cm and diameter of the foot 8.0 cm. The shape is of type ‘C’, with the fillet at the lower end of the stem. The handles are long and rather flat, scarcely rising above the rim. The lip has a reserved line inside and out. The fairly flat bowl meets the rim at a sharp angle. The stem is short, as is normal with type ‘C’ cups, and is strongly flaring at top and bottom. The fillet is marked by a reserved groove above and below. The foot has a flat upper contour. The profile of the edge of the foot is richly formed: the upper third being concave and the lower two thirds convex, while in the middle of the former there is a very slight ridge. Under the foot is a wide black band, as is usual among cups of type ‘C’.