Monday, March 30, 2020

Online Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions

[First posted in AWOL 24 February 2009. Updated 30 August 2020]

Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions

About the Corpus

Pottery is a critical tool in our understanding of the society, art, and language of ancient Greece. Most vase painters who worked in Attica—the area of Greece surrounding Athens—were active during the sixth to fourth centuries BC. Their work was often inscribed either directly into the clay or by painting the surface. Henry Immerwahr's Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions is an attempt to catalog these inscribed vases. It contains 8,173 entries and is the result of more than sixty years of research. Each entry is given a local identifier and indicates which collection the vase belongs to (and the inventory number where possible). The entries then have four parts:
  • Section A documents the type of vase, place of discovery if known, painter or potter or both, date, and bibliography;
  • Section B contains a short description of the paintings;
  • Section C contains the inscriptions; and
  • Section D offers free commentary.
A significant number of the entries contain additional footnotes. No illustrations are provided. To learn more about the history of the corpus, read Immerwahr’s description of it. The material gathered in the corpus is the basis for an on-going project by Rudolf Wachter.

About the Author

Heinrich Rudolf (later Henry Rudolph) Leopold Immerwahr was born on February 28, 1916, in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). He earned a Dottore in Lettere at the University of Florence in 1938 and in the next year began a fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, where he met his future wife, Sara Anderson. The onset of war made Greece unsafe for foreign students, especially those of Jewish heritage. Henry was able to continue his fellowship at Yale, although travel to the U.S. in wartime was dogged with delays and setbacks. Though not an American citizen, Henry registered for the draft two days after his arrival in New York City. He spent two years both as a student at Yale and as (technically) an enemy alien in the U.S. His draft notice arrived in 1943 as he was in the throes of completing his graduate work. The bureaucratic move of transferring his registration site to Hartford, CT, gave him the extra month he needed to finish his dissertation and obtain his Ph.D. in Classics from Yale. He became a U.S. citizen at the same time and served his new country for two years, finding time to get married in the midst of a world war. After the war and a year spent studying at Harvard, Henry returned as an instructor to Yale, where his only child, Mary Elizabeth, was born. In 1957, he joined the Department of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He rose to full professor in 1963 and to Alumni Distinguished Professor of Greek in 1975. Sara Immerwahr also taught at UNC, first part-time in UNC's Department of Classics and later in the Art Department, becoming a full professor in 1971. In 1977, Henry retired from UNC and became director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for a five-year term. In retirement, he continued to work on the Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions and other pursuits.

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