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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Masterpieces : Attic Black-Figure Lekythos
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Attic Black-Figure Lekythos - X.0072
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 5 th Century BC
Dimensions: 7.25" (18.4cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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Lekythoi had both a functional and a ritual context for the ancient Greeks. Within daily life, they were used as flasks to hold precious ointments such as fragrant perfumes and sumptuous oils. They also used in funerary rites, specifically the white-ground varieties. These lekythoi, often decorated with scenes of mourning, would have been left on the grave as offerings or used to pour libations over the deceased. This lekythos, however, clearly was meant for the living and not for the dead.

A woman wearing a helmet with an impressive crest, her skin highlighted with white paint, standing directly behind a black horse decorates the center of the upper half of the cylindrical body. Flanking her, a pair of nude wreathed youths stand with their clamys hanging over their outstretched left arms and their right arms bent behind their backs. Four leafy branches fill out the background between the figures. A rightward meander pattern decorates the top of the body, just below the shoulder, set off from the main scene by a pair of black lines. The shoulders are decorated with a row of rays, and the base of the neck has a tongue pattern.

This particular lekythos is attributed to the Class of Athens 581. This Class of vases includes a large number of lekythoi are distinguished by a body that tapers steadily to the foot, the use of palmettes, buds, or rays (as is the case here) on the shoulders, and backgrounds with leafy branches. Lekythoi of this Class have been found in a tumulus for the Plataeans who died at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., making this Class one of the few dateable black-figure vase styles. - (X.0072)


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