The period saw a shift in the decoration of Greek pottery from abstract to figurative styles. During the Greek Dark Ages, following the fall of the Mycenaean civilisation, Greek pottery decoration had been based around increasingly elaborate geometrical patterns. Human figures first appeared on Greek pots in Crete in the early part of the ninth century BC, but did not become common on mainland Greek pottery until the middle of the eighth century BC.
The eighth century saw the development of the orientalizing style, which signalled a shift away from the earlier geometric style and the accumulation of influences derived from Phoenicia and Syria. This orientalizing influence seems to have come from goods imported to Greece from the Near East.
At the beginning of the seventh century BC, vase painters in Corinth began to develop the black-figure style. At the same time, potters began to use incisions in the clay of vases in order to draw outlines and interior detailing. This adoption of incision, probably taken from eastern metalwork, allowed potters to show fine details of their decorations.
As the archaic period drew to a close, red-figure pottery was invented in Athens, with the first examples being produced about 525 BC, probably by the Andokides painter. The invention of the red-figure technique in Athens came at around the same time as the development of other techniques such as the white ground technique and Six’s technique.