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Pottery provides the best archaeological evidence for the movements of the Greeks and the distribution of their trade around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. Central and northern Italian Etruscan cemeteries are particularly informative as their tombs have yielded thousands of Greek vases. It is difficult to estimate what percentage of these vases were bought to serve as grave gifts; some may have been purchased initially for use in Etruscan homes. Because relatively few Etruscan manufactured goods turn up in Greek sites, it is widely assumed that Etruria traded lump iron, lead and bronze in exchange for Greek pottery and other finished commodities. Corinth dominated the pottery export trade up to the mid 6th century BC By around 525 BC Athens had established a monopoly in luxury wares with Attic Black Figure pottery and in time effectively drove Corinthian and all other regional styles from the marketplace. Attic Red Figure appeared around 530 BC and effectively replaced Black Figure by 480 BC The key to Athens's success lay in the quality and variety of the shapes and the wide range of pictorial scenes. Local, non-Attic fine wares made their appearance in the later 5th and 4th centuries and continued to be produced down to the end of the Hellenistic period. Coarse-ware pottery was produced locally throughout the Greek world wherever adequate clay deposits were available. Click here for pottery images.

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