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Kapeleion: casual and commercial wine consumption in classical Greece

By Clare Frances Kelly-Blazeby


The symposion is consistently employed as the framework around which studies of classical Greek drinking are built, regardless of a body of archaeological and literary evidence to suggest that this type of drinking was enjoyed primarily by a small minority of the elite male, and perhaps predominantly Athenian, population. As a result, and in the absence of any alternative theoretical models, archaeologists faced with a large assemblage of drinking pottery invariably seek to fit their interpretation within the existing body of sympotic scholarship. This has led to all types of wine consumption being repeatedly described as ‘sympotic’ regardless of whether the excavated drinking material came from a stoa, sanctuary, military or domestic site. In addition, a blanket sympotic interpretation does not make room for the possibility that not all shapes of drinking cup would have been used in all drinking contexts. The kylix might have been the cup of choice in the symposion, but would it have found a place in a more practical ‘casual’ or commercial tavern setting, or even in religious, military or everyday domestic drinking (rural and urban)? \ud After a review of the literary evidence for kapeleia or taverns (Chapter 1), this thesis next considers the anthropology of drinking, in order to construct a theoretical framework around which to build the succeeding chapters and arguments (Chapter 2). These embody a study of the shape and capacity of the most frequently encountered drinking shapes (Chapter 3), and a reassessment of buildings labelled ‘houses’ but for which an alternative use is strongly suggested by the excavated drinking, cooking and eating pottery (Chapter 4). These findings are tested in a series of case studies encompassing the sites of Olynthus, Halieis, Athens, Corinth, Vari, Nemea and Phylla Vrachos (Chapter 5), and the thesis concludes with a synthesis of ‘casual’ and commercial drinking in classical Greece and of its material culture (Chapter 6)

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2008
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