Greek Amphora from our Museums and Special Collections

Greek Amphora from our Museums and Special Collections

A Greek Amphora from the University's Museum CollectionsGreek Amphora ABDUA:64010

This amphora, or storage jar, was made around 530-510BC.

Although it was likely fired in Greece, it was found in Southern Italy.

Its decoration is an example of the black figure style practiced by the Attic painter Antimenes.

The figures were painted on using a slip with details added by scraping into the wet slip. During firing, the painted areas turned glossy black and unpainted areas a vibrant red.

There are many examples of Greek painted pottery in the University of Aberdeen’s collection, and we will be featuring more in upcoming social media posts.

The scene depicted on the front side of this vessel shows the Trojan warriors Ajax and Achilles playing a board game to pass the time during the mythical siege of Troy – a siege of 10 years. That’s a very long game of Monopoly! In some versions of this scene, the heroes have their helmets on and weapons at hand, ready to leap into action. Here, their helmets are put to the side with their shields suggesting that their fight is not imminent. The female figure between is Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war.

Interestingly, this episode, although well known, is not described in any of the literary texts that have come down to us from the oral storytelling tradition. It is a scene only known from pottery. Today, we are more used to pottery being purely decorative rather than giving us an episode from a classical soap opera!

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