The Attic Red-figure Vases of the 4th Century BC of the Historical Museum in Kerch (Crimea)


The project provides for the publication of the Attic red-figure vases of the museum in Kerch in a bilingual museum catalog (Russian and German) in cooperation with the museum and the Demetra Foundation of Kerch. So far, about a hundred intact vases and over a hundred fragments have been photographed and drawn during two working visits to Kerch in 2008 and 2009. Work on the texts, each of which includes a description, an iconographic interpretation, a painter's attribution, the finding history, and a complete bibliography, is expected to be completed by mid-2010, with the catalog appearing in late 2010.

Since the research of K. Schefold, the Attic vases of the 4th century B.C., which were also named 'Kerch Vases' after the most important find site, remained largely unnoticed by researchers, so that painter attributions and dating by Schefold remained valid for a long time, although doubts are increasing today. Only recently have several research projects been rededicated to Late Classical Attic vases, but they offer little in the way of new material. For further research, there is an urgent need for an expanded material base.

Due to their common origin and archaeological context, the Kerch vases are not only evaluable as individual objects in terms of art history, but possess a cultural-historical significance that goes beyond that. Questions concerning the relationship between Greeks and Scythians as well as the reception of the imported vases and pictures by the local population are in the foreground. The question of whether the Greek ateliers deliberately produced for their clientele on the Black Sea and attempted to adapt their representations to demand in terms of form and content, or whether the Attic vases of the 4th century B.C. represent mass production that did not cater to special customer requests, is the subject of controversial discussion.

Funding for the project is provided by the Ceramica Foundation, the Voluntary Academic Society of Basel, the Max Geldner Foundation in Basel, and the Demetra Foundation in Kerch.

Project manager:Othmar Jaeggi