As part of the Union Académique Internationale’s research project launched in 1921, the Interacademic Commission for the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum (CVA) publishes the holdings of Greek, Etruscan, and Italian antique clay vessels in German museums. The time frame covers the period from the Minoan-Mycenaean to the Hellenistic period, i. e. from about 1500 BCE to the beginning of Common Era. However, the emphasis is on the archaic and classical Greek fine ceramics of the 6th–4th century BCE.
For some time now, Greek vases have been regarded less as works of art than as an important source of information on ancient cultural history. The painted vessels with scenes of everyday life, myth, cult, theatre, and historical events serve as evidence for the history of religion, social history, mentality, and art. In addition, the vessels, irrespective of their painting, form a starting point for research into the history of trade and technology as well as archaeometry (material science). The task of the CVA is to document the vessels – after cleaning or restoration – in accordance with the latest photographic and graphic standards. Only high quality of documentation makes it possible to exploit the potential of the material. Based on this, scientific commentaries deal with questions of technology, region of origin, and chronological classification as well as functional and iconographic interpretation.