18 Types of Greek Vase Forms & More

Greek pottery has a long and rich history, with a variety of different forms and styles. Greek vases come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and were used for a variety of purposes, including storage, decoration, and ritual.

Greek pottery shapes are characterized by their aesthetic design and practicality. From well-known amphorae and kraters to ceremonial vases like kernos, our glossary below gathers most of the documented types of Greek pottery. 


Small pottery vessel of Egyptian origin and originally made of alabaster. The alabastron was ideal for holding aromatic oils due to the narrow body and narrow neck with a broad end. The alabastron was very similar to another type of oil vessel called bombylios, with a more rounded body.


Small spherical vessel with a narrow neck ideal for oils and perfume. Aryballos was commonly made of zoomorphic forms.


Amphorae of many shapes and sizes were used to transport dry grain and liquids such as wine. The amphora is usually characterized by two expansive handles joining the shoulder of the body and a long neck in order to facilitate the transportation by a person or two.


Ancient Greek pottery vessel ideal for pouring small quantities of liquids such as oil for refilling oil lamps.


Cup used for drinking wine by Greek and Etruscan civilizations. Usually characterized by its deep bowl, tall pedestal foot, and pair of high-swung handles which extend above the lip of the pot, most with Dionysus god decoration. The main alternative were the Kylix cups.


Large vase used for mixing wine with water and usually placed in the center of the room. The mouth of the krater was wide, and had two characteristic handles one third from the foot close to the center of gravity. Due to dimensions and weight, other vessels like Kyathos were used to withdraw the wine. The 4 types of kraters were Column, Calyx, Volute and Bell, each one with characteristic forms.


A type of Greek cup with a tall round bowl and a long vertical handle, ideal for withdrawing the wine from kraters and pouring into the drinking cups.


Wine-drinking cup with a characteristic shallow body, two horizontal handles and a foot with stem similar to modern wine cups. The kylix would have painted scenes at the bottom of the inner body that would be progressively revealed and would surprise the drinker with Dionysus decorations or orgy scenes. The form of the kylix was perfect for drinking while lying down and the main alternative for drinking wine was the Kantharos and Skyphos cups.


Large mixing bowl with spherical body without handles and feet. Due to the simple design, most of the surface was not suitable for decorative painting and therefore only produced until the 4th century BC.


Greek jug used used to pour wine. Although there were many forms, typically Oinochoe had only one handle at the back and a trefoil mouth with pouring spout.


Wine-drinking cup usually with the form of an inverted cone, small base and two handles close to the mouth.


The hydria was large vessel storing water and had with 3 handles so it was easy to transport and pour water.


Pottery ring with attached small vessels for holding various offerings in religious rituals. Usually used in cults of Demeter and Kore.


From the family of the alabastron and Aryballos, this vessel had a thin neck and body similar to the alabastron with an added handle. Lekythos was used for oils and balms, also was used as funerary urn.


A vessel similar to an amphora with spherical belly and a foot to stand on its own. Pelikai (in Greek plural) were use for storing and transporting liquids such as wine or solids such as grain.


Cylindrical box covered with a top for holding cosmetics, trinckets and jewelry.


Greek pot characterized by a spherical belly and narrow hight foot used as a wine cooler inside a krater with cold water.

Panathenaic amphorae

Large vessels containing olive oil from the sacred grove of Athena. Panathenaic amphoras were awarded as a prize to the participants of the game. The form and paintings were distinctive following a canon, at the front Athena was advancing through columns with the inscriptions in Greek "one of the prizes from Athens". At the back were the scenes of the event for which it was an award. These vessels and other monumental ones were also created for special gifts or as luxurious decoration.

Other types

Less important types where estamnos, guttus, amphoriskos, pyxis, epichysis, lagynos, lekane, olpe, oxybaphon, pithos and rhyton.

The Ancient Home democratize ancient Greek art by creating and commercializing affordable art pieces. Visit our collection of Greek vases here!

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