Ancient Greek vase painting By convention, finely painted vessels of all shapes are called "vases", and there are over , significantly complete surviving pieces,  giving with the inscriptions that many carry unparalleled insights into many aspects of Greek life. Sculptural or architectural pottery, also very often painted, are referred to as terracottas , and also survive in large quantities. In much of the literature, "pottery" means only painted vessels, or "vases". Pottery was the main form of grave goods deposited in tombs, often as "funerary urns" containing the cremated ashes, and was widely exported. The famous and distinctive style of Greek vase-painting with figures depicted with strong outlines, with thin lines within the outlines, reached its peak from about to BC, and divides into the two main styles, almost reversals of each other, of black-figure and red-figure painting, the other colour forming the background in each case. Other colours were very limited, normally to small areas of white and larger ones of a different purplish-red.
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Geography[ edit ] The mainland and islands of Greece are very rocky, with deeply indented coastline, and rugged mountain ranges with few substantial forests. The most freely available building material is stone. Limestone was readily available and easily worked. This finely grained material was a major contributing factor to precision of detail, both architectural and sculptural, that adorned ancient Greek architecture. It was used not only for pottery vessels, but also roof tiles and architectural decoration. This led to a lifestyle where many activities took place outdoors.
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