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Amphora with lid

: Geometric Greek
: Late Geometric, 8th century B.C.
: Terracotta
: Height: 55 cm

Ex-US private collection, acquired in 1989.


Impressive in size, this tall amphora has the lid and probably served to contain the solid provisions instead of usual liquids, wine or oil. The hollow splayed foot makes the vase stable and supports the slender ovoid body. Two flat handles are attached to its shoulders, the handles join the neck under the flared rim, which accommodates the lid with a knob.

The decoration of this painted vase is reduced to several geometric patterns. The choice of them is based on the shape; each follows a specific part of the whole. The emphasis is made on the broadest part of the vase at the shoulders where the frieze of meander, the most important motif of the Geometric style, occupies the prominent space. Below, broad bands in black paint alternate with thin stripes in brown. Made on the potter’s wheel, they are consistent in their regularity. The cylindrical neck got the meander pattern too, but rather of vertical design which is natural to its shape, it is additionally accentuated by the row of dashes. The handles have the horizontal lines, the rim is ornamented with the dots, and a rayed rosette on the knob completes the decoration.

Although only two colors are typical to the employed materials (the ochre of the terracotta and the black of the paint), the intensity of the black varies, and the color becomes dark-brown or light-brown depending on the thickness of the paint’s layer.

As it is known, the kiln was usually a busy production space: during the firing it was filled with many vases of various sizes and shapes. It is probable that another tall vase was next to this present vase, the narrow space in between influenced the temperature which became lower; that is why the vase came with uneven color, one side is too pale, with almost reddish tone.

This vase belongs to the latest phase of the Geometric style in the late 8th century B.C. when the figural scenes with humans and animals started to appear among the geometric motifs.


BOARDMAN J., Early Greek Vase Painting, New York, 1998, pp. 23-82.

DEMARGNE P., The Birth of Greek Art, New York, 1964, pp. 281-315.

PEDLEY J. G., Greek Art and Archaeology, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2007, pp. 116-122.


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