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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Attic Black-Figure Amphora
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Attic Black-Figure Amphora - SK.001
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 560 BC
Dimensions: 13.75" (34.9cm) high
Collection: Classical
Style: Attic
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: UAE
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An amphora of this quality would have been used for funerary purposes, or possibly at the most exclusive symposia (drinking festivities). This piece has been published and exhibited and is linked to the Painter of Tarquinia.

The obverse depicts a mounted hoplite and attendant riding side by side. The hoplite wears a Corinthian helmet with greaves and his shield emblazoned with a bull’s head in white. His companion wears a petasos and carries two spears. An eagle in flight is featured in the field behind the two riders. This bird, characterised by its size and large eye, symbolises the devotion of the hoplites to Zeus.

The reverse depicts a similar scene, but in this case the shield of the hoplite is emblazoned with a leaping hare motif. A zig-zag motif in black runs across the top of both picture fields.

The departure of hoplites to battle was a popular subject for Athenian vase-painters of the sixth century B.C. In the seventh century B.C. many Greek city-states formed volunteer armies, composed of adult male citizens who could afford to acquire the panoply of a hoplite- namely spear, helmet, cuirass, greaves and most importantly the large defensive shield. The name of the hoplites derives from the Greek ‘hoplon’, the word for arms and more specifically when used in the singular, shield. It was an honour to serve as a hoplite since it conferred status and was an outward expression of citizenship and wealth, as well as affording the opportunity to gain glory. In the sixth century B.C., the archon Solon divided the hoplites into four classes, receiving status and political responsibility in relation to their wealth. The second highest class was that of the ‘hippeis’, the cavalry, equivalent to Roman equestrians or medieval knights. These ‘hippeis’ would be drawn from the aristocracy, being wealthy enough to arm themselves and maintain a war horse.

Exhibited: ‘Art Antique, Collections Privees de Suisse Romande,’ Musee Ruth, (Geneva, 1975)

Published: J.Dorig, ‘Art Antique, Collections Privees de Suisse Romande,’ (Geneva, 1975), no. 159.

H. Metzger and D. Van Berchem, ‘Festscrift fur K. Schefold,’ (1971), pp. 155, pls. 55 and 56, 2. - (SK.001)


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