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Case 4: Classical Athens 540–400 BC

Death and burial


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Oil flask (lekythos): Visiting the grave

Family and friends were expected to visit the grave on specific occasions. But when vases show people at a tomb it is not always clear whether they represent mourners or the dead themselves. Is the youth muffled in the red clpak a mourner, like the figure bringing sashes to tie around the tombstone? Or is he the person mourned, his soul the tiny stick-man hovering by the tomb?

Production place: Athens
Date: around  440 BC
Fired Clay, white-ground technique
Bequeathed by Shannon, C.H.
Ricketts and Shannon Collection

Object Number: GR.36.1937

see the online collections database




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Miniature wine-jugs (choes): Children, life and death

Little jugs of this shape, for which the Greek name was chous (plural choes), are often found in children's graves. They are connected with an Athenian festival called the Anthesteria, which involved the first opening of the wine made the previous autumn, a drinking competition, and commemoration of the dead. One of the days of the festival was called the Day of Choes, and aspects of the festival are reflected on miniature version of these jugs, some of which have scenes involving children.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  440–400 BC
Fired Clay, red-figure technique
Transferred from Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

Object Number: GR.8.1952

see the online collections database




Click image to see larger size

Miniature wine-jugs (choes): Children, life and death

Little jugs of this shape, for which the Greek name was chous (plural choes), are often found in children's graves. They are connected with an Athenian festival called the Anthesteria, which involved the first opening of the wine made the previous autumn, a drinking competition, and commemoration of the dead. One of the days of the festival was called the Day of Choes, and aspects of the festival are reflected on miniature version of these jugs, some of which have scenes involving children.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  440–400 BC
Fired Clay, red-figure technique

Object Number: GR.P.8

see the online collections database




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693236960769319
68847