Trades and occupations in ancient Greece

From Baumeister .
FIG. 136. AGRICULTURAL SCENES (CUP BY NIKOSTHENES IN BERLIN).

Trades and Occupations Depicted on Pottery

The trades and occupations represented on vases are very varied, ranging from mining to shoemaking. The representations of miners in caves which appear on some of the early Corinthian pinakes  most probably refer to the digging out of the clay for the potteries rather than to mining for metals. This seems the more probable when it is taken into consideration that potters' workshops and furnaces are so frequently depicted in the same series. Besides these we find later instances of potters turning vases on the wheel, painting them, or finishing them off, as already described in a previous chapter: one vase represents the interior of a potter's workshop with vases in various stages; another, a man painting the design with a sort of quill. Young men and girls are depicted negotiating the purchase of completed vases in the shop. Another of the Corinthian pinakes  represents the exportation of vases in a ship. Metal-work is represented by a well-known R.F. kylix in Berlin, showing a bronze foundry, with statues in various stages of completion; there are also representations of a smithy, in some of which writers have seen an allusion to Hephaistos and the Kyklopes. A man is depicted finishing off a bronze helmet, or carrying a completed terminal figure; and of similar import is the subject of Athena modelling a horse.

Agriculture is represented by vases in Berlin and the Louvre with scenes of men ploughing with oxen (Fig. 136) or hoeing, sowers, and mules carrying sacks of grain; and certain vase-paintings have been interpreted as referring to the digging of a well. A man is seen cutting down a tree, and another birds'-nesting. Shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats are seen on two early Boeotian vases, and also fishermen, and men crushing grapes in a wine-press. The various stages of oil-making include the gathering of the olives from a tree, the pressing in an oil-press, and lastly the merchant measuring out and selling his oil. A butcher is represented cutting up meat, and also the preparing and cutting up of a tunny-fish, and the baking of bread; on a B.F. vase two men weigh goods in a balance; and the export of the silphium (?) on the Arkesilas vase may also be mentioned here. Lastly, we have a shoemaker in his shop, a carpenter working with an adze,and a boy going to market with two baskets carried on a pole.