Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology


This study advances our understanding of Athenian vase-paintings of the Archaic and Classical periods by examining scenes of communication from two perspectives: how communication is expressed within depictions of multi-figure scenes and how messages are encoded through the vase to the viewer. I develop a new theoreticalmethodological framework using communication theory that combines a semiotic approach to images with a model of communication that considers the viewer (Part I). The model visualizes communication as occurring on two axes. Communication occurring on the vase, the horizontal axis, focuses on the different modes of communication within the image. Communication occurring through the object, the vertical axis, considers the role of the viewer and the relationship between creator, object, and targeted audience. Communication theory allows for a systematic investigation of the vase as a constructed agent of meaning and the importance of the intended viewer and viewing context. This study is divided into two parts based upon the two axes of communication. Part II deals primarily with the horizontal axis, applying the model of communication to vase-paintings through analyzing examples of different modes of communication in the world of images, which are expressed through visual markers. Visual markers such as gestures, body language and speech inscriptions, represent both verbal and non-verbal communication in images. Chapter 3 examines the use of visual markers in establishing conversations, with an emphasis on indicators of speech. Chapter 4 examines the role of visual markers in representing known narratives. Miscommunication plays a part in these stories as a narrative instigator and I focus predominantly on nonverbal communication.

Part III deals with the vertical axis, concentrating on the concept of gendered gazes through examining self-referential images and targeted audiences. While Chapter 5 focuses on scenes of the symposium on sympotic shapes intended for a male audience, Chapter 6 explores images intended for female viewers by examining vases decorated with scenes of marriage and wool-working that were produced for those respective settings. In my dissertation, I argue that the link between the two axes relies on visual markers, an open approach to reading images, and the experience of the viewer.