Patterns in the Production of Apulian Red-Figure Pottery.
This volume examines production patterns of ancient Apulian figured pottery across time, with especial focus on shape and subject matter. The ceramic industry in the south Italian region now known as Puglia flourished between ca. 430-300 B.C.E., the prolific output of vases (mostly found in tombs) much studied by scholars and admired by modern viewers. Herring's work builds on that of Arthur Dale Trendall and Alexander Cambitoglou in their magisterial Red-Figured Vases of Apulia (2 volumes, 1978 and 1982, hereafter RVAp) and its two supplements, their listings providing the foundation of his 13,589-vessel database. The sizable sample allows Herring to quantify trends in Apulian ceramic production, such as the popularity of certain shapes and scene types in specific periods, and to speculate about their significance. The statistics also yield meaningful historiographic observations. Scholars have disproportionately studied large vases with complex mythological or theatre-inspired scenes, whereas the actual number of vessels with such imagery is small compared to those with other subjects. Herring takes an up-to-date approach, emphasizing the likely indigenous Italic market fot much Apulian pottery instead of the Greek colonists who have tended (with some exceptions) to dominate modern discussions.
Despite the clear background provided by the first chapter, ultimately this book is for specialists. Readers will want RVAp and its supplements handy: Herring mentions X number of vases of X shape with X subject from X period, but because his database is not catalogued here, one would have to find which they are in RVAp without benefit of cross-references. There are also surprisingly few illustrations, given the breadth of material. The bibliography is serviceable but not exhaustive; omitted, for instance, is work by Frank Hildebrandt and Keely Heuer on the Gigantomachy and isolated female heads respectively. Even specialists will find the parade of statistics in prose form daunting, and accordingly may feel tempted to skip to summary remarks to see where Herring is leading them. This reader would have preferred more tables to condense space, more citations to individual vases as examples, and lengthier commentary on the data's implications. Recognizing that Herring's entire database would have been costprohibitive to include--the volume already being pricey--an online component might have been an economical way of making more detailed information accessible, including to audiences without access to RVAp.
Herring's data raise questions that merit further exploration: for example, how statistics for shapes and subject matter intersect with the attribution of vases to certain painters/workshops or with findspot data (when known). As Herring rightly stresses multiple times, however, the dearth of provenience information poses the largest problem to study of Apulian pottery. The overwhelming majority of vases lack documented archaeological context, many having surfaced on the art market in the 1970s-1980s during periods of rampant looting. Patterns that Herring highlights would be easier to explain with these data, which would permit cogent discussion of reception and usage. His work raises awareness by demonstrating what we don't and can't know as well as what we do, and that message is most welcome.
Sheramy D. Bundrick
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
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|Author:||Bundrick, Sheramy D.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2019|
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