Geometric Art in Ancient Greece

The roots of Classical Greece lie in the Geometric period of about ca. 900 to 700 B.C., a time of dramatic transformation that led to the establishment of primary Greek institutions. The Greek city-state (polis) was formed, the Greek alphabet was developed, and new opportunities for trade and colonization were realized in cities founded along the coast of Asia Minor, in southern Italy, and in Sicily. With the development of the Greek city-states came the construction of large temples and sanctuaries dedicated to patron deities, which signaled the rise of state religion. Each polis identified with its own legendary hero. By the end of the eighth century B.C., the Greeks had founded a number of major Panhellenic sanctuaries dedicated to the Olympian gods.

Geometric Greece experienced a cultural revival of its historical past through epic poetry and the visual arts. The eighth century B.C. was the time of Homer, whose epic poems describe the Greek campaign against Troy (theIliad) and the subsequent adventures of Odysseus on his return to Ithaca (theOdyssey). A newly emerging aristocracy distinguished itself with material wealth and through references to the Homeric past. Their graves were furnished with metal objects, innately precious by the scarcity of copper, tin, and gold deposits in Greece.