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HCF Lecture: Dr. Eleni Hasaki, "Earth and Fire: Ancient Greek Potters and Their Masterpieces"


Oct 25 2021 - 5:00pm

The Hellenic Cultural Foundation of Tucson
Public Lecture

Eleni Hasaki – University of Arizona

October 25, 5:00-6:00pm

An ancient city was a city of clay: from the architectural terracottas on roofs of homes and temples, to the clay drainage pipes underground, Greeks potters mastered earth and fire to produce almost everything a household and a city needed from the mundane to the exquisite. In this richly illustrated lecture Professor Hasaki provides a closer look at how ancient Greek potters transformed their natural resources into functional ceramics which their communities used as construction material and kitchen equipment in their homes, sacred dedications in their sanctuaries, or commemorative offerings in their graves. Potters mastered the qualities of different clays and fine-tuned their potters’ wheels to produce fine ceramics with extremely thin walls and cooking pots with first-rate thermal qualities. They also mastered fire in complicated prolonged kiln firings and learned how to anticipate the final appearances of pots with no modern thermometers or testing equipment. While perfecting their technical know-how, Greek potters also portrayed the mythology of the divine realm and everyday life of their cities— from quarrels among the gods to domestic occupations. Their products enjoyed high popularity at home and across the Mediterranean. 

Eleni Hasaki is Professor of Anthropology and Classics at the University of Arizona and co-director of the Laboratory for Traditional Technology in the School of Anthropology. A Greek native, she has been an active member of the HCF since 2003 and served as its Vice President from 2012-2015. She conducts fieldwork in potters’ workshops in Greece and Tunisia, oversees lab projects, leads digital humanities projects, and publishes extensively on potters’ technologies, their apprenticeship systems, workshop organization, and social networks. Her soon-to-be-released book, Potters at Work in Ancient Corinth: Industry, Religion, and the Penteskouphia Pinakes, highlights the largest group of depictions of potters at work from the classical world. (Full info:

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