Bands of geometric patterns cover the surface of this Athenian pitcher, creating a tapestry-like effect. Because of artists' preferences for such geometric designs, scholars refer to the period from 900 to 700 B.C., during which this vessel was made, as the Geometric period. A variety of common Geometric motifs decorate this pitcher: rosettes, leaves, meander pattern, a swastika, and chevrons. The artist emphasized the neck and shoulder of the vessel by further dividing the bands of these areas into panels. The two side panels on the neck show horses with birds sitting on their backs. Horses--another popular ancient subject--symbolized wealth and status in Greece in this period.
Two small bumps on the shoulder are a frequent feature of pitchers in this period. They may represent breasts, referring to a vessel's liquid and life-giving properties. Or they may have had a more practical purpose, giving leverage to a second hand when pouring from the heavy vessel.