Antiquities, ancient Greek pottery is frequently signedCorinth once made pottery decorated without any paint. Instead a watery clay mixture was used. When the pot was fired in a kiln, the areas painted with clay mixture turned black. Unpainted areas turned a light brown or reddish brown color, depending on the type of clay.
For 200 years the Corinthians sold their pottery all over the Greek world, and Corinth became a wealthy and busy trading center. In metalworking and pottery, the work was very hard. The potters could be found in a part of Athens known as the Kerameikos, or Potters' Quarter. They acquired their clay from the quarries at Cape Colias, six miles from the city. They mixed it with ochre or vermilion to color it yellow or red, and turned it on simple wheels. The molded articles were then dried in the sun and specialized painters decorated them by hand. The Sphinx, an imaginary creature of ancient myths, is most remembered for the riddle given to her by the Muses, "What creature has only once voice walks sometimes on four, sometimes on three, and sometimes on two, and is weakest when it walks on four? "Man!" She often sat perched on Mount Phicium, asking each passing person a riddle. If they answered her wrong, she would eat them. It is also believed that The Sphinx leaped to her death when she asked Oedipus a riddle and was given the correct answer. The Egyptians, Greeks and peoples of the Near East all had stories about such a creature. The Egyptian Sphinx usually had the head of a man and the body, legs, feet and tail of a lion. The Greek Sphinx usually had the head of a woman and according to Greek literature, lived on a high rock outside of the city of Thebes. The Great Sphinx that stands at Giza near the Great Pyramid in Egypt is 240 feet long and approximately 66 feet high and is one of the most famous monuments in the world.
The ancient Greeks were the firs to develop a democratic way of life. More than 200 years age, they started the idea that every citizen should take an active part in Government, historians regard them as the founder of western civilization. Greek civilization was far more advanced than any other historians were. Orators, philosophers, and poets were Greek. The Greeks were the first to study botany, geometry, medicine, physic and zoology on a scientific basic. They also held the first athletic games.
The ancient Greeks called themselves Hellenes, and their land Hellas. They never formed a national government, but a common culture, religious, and language united them. Greeks called anyone whose active language was Greek a Hellene, even if he did not live in Greece, and anyone not speaking Greek a barbarian. Greek civilization developed on a rocky, mountainous peninsula that juts onto the Mediterranean Sea from southeastern Europe, and on the Islands in the nearby sea. The people of each plain and island formed an independent community called a city-state. No city-state had enough good land to support its entire people. Communities quarreled with one another instead of uniting. Athens and Sparta became the most famous city-states.
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