Like most societies, ancient Greeks used clay as a cheap and durable material to make plates, cups, pitchers, bowls, and storage vessels. The fanciest vessels were decorated with pictures of gods, heroes, animals, and daily life. Many of these pots were practical, but they were often discarded, lost, or placed in tombs as grave offerings. Centuries later, when archaeologists—people who study past cultures and civilizations—find these pots, they are often broken into fragments and missing parts. Through careful study and patience, many of the pots can be reassembled, allowing archaeologists and other scholars to learn more about how the ancient Greeks lived and what they believed.