Receptacles to contain liquid have always been crafted carefully by humans through time and cultures that it is considered an art. It is, therefore, interesting, to examine and compare products from one time period to another and through this, determine the type of people and society which created the product and the available technology of the time. For the purpose of this paper, an ancient Greek water vessel would be compared to a modern-day Starbucks cup. The obvious similarity of the two would be their purpose for being made.
They were both made to contain liquid although of a different sort. The Greek vessel was made to carry water while the Starbucks cup is used to contain hot coffee. With the different liquid types which they are used to contain, it is understandable then as to why the Greek vessel is large compared to the small Starbucks cup. The Greek water vessel was used to fetch water for the entire household and for short-term storage of the water while the Starbucks cup is for the singular consumption of its contents.
It is also notable to mention that the shape of the Greek vessel—narrow bottom and rounded body—was not dictated by the one who made the vase but as a natural effect of creating the vase using the potter wheel. Turning the wall makes the clay spread out from the base and narrow again on top. The shape of the Starbucks cup, meanwhile, has been designed after the drinking glass, a narrow body to accommodate the size of the hand and a wide round rim for easy drinking through the mouth.
Another difference between the two receptacles is the material used to make these containers. The Greek water vessel is earthenware which could have taken days to finish—molded carefully from clay, fired and glazed to strengthen the material, and painted. The Starbucks cup is made up of recycled industrial fibers, printed with the Starbucks logo, and served with a cardboard holding sleeve. It is mass produced in factories which make them by the thousands everyday.
The availability of modern-day assembly machines allow for a large production of these cups from raw material to finished product in a span of a few hours and by volumes, at that. The amount of time and effort exerted to create the Greek water vessel, however, makes it more precious both as an implement in the home during ancient times and as an artifact today. For every household in ancient Greece, it was important to have a durable water vessel and since they did not come cheap then, they were cared for.
Today, any Greek water vessel unearthed would be treated with the same utmost care and displayed in a museum. Very few would attribute the same worth to the Starbucks cup because millions of them exist today. They are disposable and are considered important only as long as it takes to finish the entire cup of coffee—after which they become used and worthless. Finally, the two water containers may be compared based on the artwork on their outside. The artwork on the ancient Greek vessel is intricate and obviously took a lot of time and effort on the part of the artist.
Greek pottery-making was a serious trade as much as masonry and painting. Although the simplest of these vessels were only decorated with geometric designs (which, even then, show a high level of skill on the part of the artist who painted them by hand), the most elaborate contain detailed scenes from mythology, history and contemporary society of the time. As a result, even without taking into consideration its original function, an ancient Greek vessel is a work of art in itself.
With the details in the artwork, these vessels tell historians and archaeologists a lot about how the ancient Greeks lived. In contrast, a Starbucks cup is plain white and stamped with the round green Starbucks logo with a drawing of a mermaid in the middle. It does not tell a story like the ancient Greek vessel but the simple logo is a reflection of contemporary society by which the cup has been produced: an industrial society which is too busy and fast-paced to bother to attribute sentimentality and art to an object as everyday as a cup to contain coffee.