Although most of what I'm reading is not new to me, there are a couple of things that came as a surprise to me. The first was that there was a period of pottery between the Geometric Period and the Black figure period. This was the Proto-Corninthian period of pottery, which flourished during the Orientalizing period 725-600 BCE . Most of the pottery was miniature .
The pieces seem to me, from my mostly untrained eye, to be a mix of geometric period influences (although this vase shows the orientalist influence of the flowing curves in the painting and the pictures of animals (Murray 84-85), the animals are arranged in seemingly geometric patterns)
Another, although slightly less vital, piece of information that I missed in my classical education was the origins of the Phoenicians. Murray says:
"the earliest Greek contacts were with the Canaanites of the Levantine coast, a people known to the Greeks as the Phoenicians, probably because of their monopoly of the only colour-fast dye in antiquity, the purple (phoinix) extract from the murex shellfish" (70).I had no idea how the Phoenicians were named by the Greeks, and I thought that was pretty cool. I also thought they were island people, and had no ideas that they controlled the forests of Lebanon which provided timber to Egypt (Murray 70).
As a Note: Project Gutenberg is now posting texts in their original language. They may have done this before, and I just did not notice. It's a fabulous resource. Although I would traditionally turn to the Perseus Project for Greek texts. However, I might put these on my kindle in order to translate without the crutch of a built in dictionary.