Proto-Geometric amphora c. 975–950 BCE. Athens, now British Museum.
Proto-Geometric amphora c. 950–900 BCE

The Protogeometric style (or Proto-Geometric) is a style of Ancient Greek pottery led by Athens produced between roughly 1050 and 900 BCE,[1][2][3] in the first period of the Greek Dark Ages.[4] After the collapse of the Mycenaean-Minoan Palace culture and the ensuing Greek Dark Ages, the Protogeometric style emerged around the mid 11th century BCE as the first expression of a reviving civilization. Following on from the development of a faster potter's wheel, vases of this period are markedly more technically accomplished than earlier Dark Age examples. The decoration of these pots is restricted to purely abstract elements and very often includes broad horizontal bands about the neck and belly and concentric circles applied with compass and multiple brush. Many other simple motifs can be found, but unlike many pieces in the following Geometric style, typically much of the surface is left plain.[5]

Like many pieces, the example illustrated includes a colour change in the main band, arising from a firing fault. Both the red and black colour use the same clay, differently levigated and fired. As the Greeks learnt to control this variation, the path to their distinctive three-phase firing technique opened.

Some of the innovations included some new Mycenean influenced shapes, such as the belly-handled amphora, the neck handled amphora, the krater, and the lekythos. Attic artists redesigned these vessels using the fast wheel to increase the height and therefore the area available for decoration.

From Athens the style spread to several other centres.[6]


Alex Knodell, in his (2021) book, classifies Protogeometric period in three sub-periods:[7]

Ceramic period Dates BCE
Early Protogeometric 1070/40–1000
Middle Protogeometric 1000–950
Late Protogeometric 950–900

See also


  1. ^ Miller 2013, p. 139 :"Around the beginning of the Protogeometric Period [c.1075/50]...".
  2. ^ Lemos 2002, p. 2 :"...the Aegean from the period around 1050/25 to around 900 BC, named after its characteristic 'Protogeometric' pottery style.".
  3. ^ Fantalkin, Alexander, Assaf Kleiman, Hans Mommsen, and Israel Finkelstein, (2020). "Aegean Pottery in Iron IIA Megiddo: Typological, Archaeometric and Chronological Aspects", in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry Vol. 20, No 3, (2020), p. 143: "...This would imply that the preceding Aegean sequence from Early Protogeometric to the end of Late Protogeometric should cover the last few decades of the 11th century BCE and the entire 10th century BCE..."
  4. ^ Cook, 30
  5. ^ Cook, 31
  6. ^ Cook, 30-31
  7. ^ Knodell, Alex, (2021). Societies in Transition in Early Greece: An Archaeological History , University of California Press, Oakland, Table 1, p. 7.


Further reading