Animating the Battles and Mythology of Greek Vases

“Combat,” part of the Ure Discovery series from Panoply animating Greek vases

It is widely known that ancient Greeks were great art lovers and their love for beauty and art were depicting in many objects of everyday life. One of these were vases called amphoras that were usually painted with the most vivid colors and themes from combats, sports, and greek mythology.
Inspired by the classical greek art of those amphorae, a duo called Panoply has been turning these vases into animations to explore their stories and make classical archaeology more understandable for a younger public.

Still from “Clash of the Dicers”

Animator Steve K. Simons, who started experimenting with the vases in 2007, worked with Sonya Nevin, a research fellow at the University of Roehampton in London with a doctorate on ancient Greek warfare from University College Dublin. Through Panoply, they’ve brought chariot races, epic battles, and love stories to life. One of their ongoing projects is working with students at the Universtiy of Reading and secondary school groups to reimagine the scenes on the Greek vases at the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology in Reading, England with Simons dedicated to keeping the animation accurate to the original art and the spirit of ancient greeks.

There seems to be a growing number of these projects that give some digital spirit to areas of museum and archive collections that might go overlooked, such as Rino Stefano Tagliafierro animating Old Masters into a trippy film, or Kevin Weir turning archival photographs from the Library of Congress into surprising GIFs. Greek vases were almost always designed as storytellers, so they are considered an especially fertile area for animation (there was one of Hercules and the Hydra animated in the recent Power of Poison exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History).

Here are a few of Panoply’s recent animations:

View more Greek vase animations on the Panoply site.
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