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Case 2: The Greek world 900–500 BC

A new beginning: Geometric Athens 900-700 BC


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Wine-jug (oinochoe)

After 800 BC some Athenian potters began to paint figures as well as linear designs. The earliest were horses and deer, but humans soon appeared. They are extremely stylised, almost patterns themselves; a triangle represents a man’s chest. This jug shows a line of warriors wearing plumed helmets and carrying huge shields that cover their bodies. Another warrior with horses is painted on the neck of the pot. These pictures may suggest that this society was dominated by war, or simply that its people liked to tell stories about war.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  720 BC
Fired Clay

Object Number: GR.1.1935

see the online collections database




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Box (pyxis) with modelled horse on the lid

This container (pyxis) was probably used to store jewellery or cosmetics. It is unusually well-preserved and so is likely to have come from a grave. There were once three horses on the lid, but only one survives. Only the rich could afford to keep horses so here they may symbolise the wealth and high status of the dead person. The intricate workmanship of the pyxis itself also hints at the wealth of the relatives who survived. Not only did they own such a fine piece, but they could also afford to bury it, rather than continuing to use it.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  740 BC
Fired Clay

Object Number: GR.84.1907

see the online collections database




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