After this brilliant interlude, progress during the next two generations (c. 830-770 B.C.) was less spectacular. Although some Levantine traffic was maintained, there is less to show for it at home; the repertoire of grave goods is more restricted, and goldwork is exceptional. Athenian Middle Geometric, a settled and harmonious style of pottery, slowly worked itself out; and before long it became the common idiom of almost every Aegean centre, so that one must at least suppose some increase in maritime travel within home waters. Because the style has a marked internal development through two stages, it is a most useful yardstick for measuring time in other parts of Greece, each of which will be considered in turn. The final ferment at the end of MG II, when the first funeral and battle scenes suddenly appear on Attic pottery, will be treated with the work of the Dipylon Master in the next chapter.
We have already had a glimpse of the incipient MG style (pp. 61-3), in which complete harmony between shape and decoration had already been achieved. A fine example of this harmony is seen on a shoulder-handled amphora from Eleusis of the late ninth century (fig. 22e). The weightiest motif, a hatched meander, is placed in a panel at the point where it is most needed-i.e., exactly coinciding with the level of the handles; and ancillary zones enclose the neck and the belly. The decoration thus assumes an architectural quality; each part of the vase receives separate definition, but without any loss of overall unity. On a small scale, the skyphos in fig. 22c shows the same meticulousness in the placing of ornament. The zigzag panel is here enhanced by ancillary columns of dots, and so framed that the lower limit of the reserved area coincides with the handle roots. The spaces by the handles, instead of being glazed as in EG, are suitably filled with stars-or, in other cases, dot rosettes.
The most important new shape is the flat pyxis (fig. 22b) which takes over from the globular form at the turn from EG. In spite of its stable appearance, there are holes for suspension, just as on the pointed pyxis (which continues into MG I); table space, in a Geometric household, was evidently scarce. The underside occasionally carries an elegant leaf pattern (fig. 22d); continuous zones cover the body. The knob handles suggest some acquaintance with woodwork, and sometimes take the form of a miniature pyxis.