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Hellenistic Greek World 400-1 BC

Case 10: The Hellenistic World

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Greeks Abroad: Crocodile drinking horn (rhyton)

Like the other vases in this case, this drinking horn was made by Greeks who had settled in southern Italy and Sicily, taking with them the craft traditions of mainland Greece. Their pottery found new markets among non-Greek people: most drinking horns of this shape have been found in native Italian graves. The subject, a black boy being eaten by a crocodile, was first used by an Athenian potter about one hundred years before this vase was made.

Production place: Taranto, southern Italy
Date: around  350 BC
Fired Clay, red-figure technique

Object Number: GR.58.1865

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Alexander the Great

The image of Alexander was easily recognised by most people in antiquity. His long, wavy hair, for example, is a distinctive feature of all his portraits. Here, his right arm is raised to hold a spear (now missing). His pose recalls that of statues of the god Zeus, whose son he claimed to be. Later rulers were to model their own portraits on those of Alexander, in terms of both pose and physical appearance.

Date: around  300–100 BC
Find spot: Tanis, Egypt
Bronze (copper alloy)
Leake Collection

Object Number: GR.8.1864

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4-drachma coin (tetradrachm): Head of Alexander as Zeus Ammon

Images on coins could convey ideas of power and kingship to a wide audience. This coin was issued by one of Alexander’s successors, Lysimachos of Thrace. Lysimachos’ name appears on one side of the coin, next to an image of the goddess Athena. On the other side is the head of Alexander, with the ram’s horn of the Egyptian god Zeus Ammon. Some forty years after his death, the image of Alexander was too well known to need a label. The message of the coin is that Lysimachos has inherited the authority of the now divine Alexander.

Production place: Thrace, northern Greece
Date: around  287–281 BC
McClean Collection

Object Number: CM.MC.4486-R

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