This page includes information that may not reflect the current views and values of the Penn Museum.

Archaic Period
Circa 600 - 479 B.C.

The city-states continued to flourish during the Archaic period, in spite of internal political and social unrest. By the 6th century BC a majority of the most important and powerful city-states were ruled by tyrants. Commerce and the arts flourished under the auspices of these more or less benevolent dictators. Corinth especially prospered. Athens undertook a massive building program, and the region of Attica dominated the pottery market for about a century and a half with its high-quality pottery.

The origins of democracy can be traced to Athens in the years following the fall of the tyrannical Peisistratids (560-510 BC). By the beginning of the Archaic period large statues of nude males (kouroi ) and draped females (korai ) were produced as dedications for sanctuaries and as markers for graves. Colossal marble temples to house huge cult images of the gods were built in various parts of the Greek world. Click here ofr Women and Goddesses.

External troubles came from both east and west. The Persian Empire attempted to extend its control over the Greeks in Asia Minor. The final victory of the Greeks over the Persians was celebrated in Greek art and literature as a symbol of the triumph of civilized peoples over the forces of barbarism.

Attic Black Figure Amphora
ca. 530 BC
Style between Exekias and the Lysippides Painter
Orvieto, Etruria
MS 3497
The Attic Black Figure style of vase painting developed in the late 7th century BC from Corinthian painting and reached its fullest development in the period represented by this amphora. The story of Heracles and the Nemean Lion is illustrated on one side, while a Dionysiac scene decorates the other. In the early 5th century, production of Black Figure work began to decline and the new Red Figure style was increasingly evident. H. 56.5; Dia. 38.0 cm. Photo by Maria Daniels for the Perseus Project (132k)

© Copyright 2002