Black-Figure Neck Amphora

Unknownabout 510 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Horses were an integral part of the Greek world. They were used for transportation, entertainment, and most importantly warfare. They also served as symbols of wealth and status, because of their high cost of maintenance. This Athenian black-figure neck-amphora depicts two men leading their mounts. Each man wears a petasos, or broad-brimmed traveler's hat, and carries two spears. As this vase shows, Greek riders controlled their horses with reins and a bridle, but they had no saddle or stirrups. These men lead their horses at their shoulder on short reins. This follows the practice set out by the later historian and general Xenophon, who would advise in his text The Art of Horsemanship against allowing the horse to get either too far ahead or behind on a long lead. This way the horses could not get into mischief and the rider could mount quickly if necessary. The back of the amphora depicts the festive atmosphere surrounding Dionysos, the god of wine. Dionysos stands calmly holding his kantharos, or drinking cup, while his companions dance and make music. A satyr, a creature part animal and part human, plays the aulos, or double flutes, and a maenad plays krotala, castanet-like instruments.

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  • Title: Black-Figure Neck Amphora
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 510 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 40.4 x 26.2 cm (15 7/8 x 10 5/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Amphora
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 86.AE.79
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 114, Dionysos and the Theater
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels


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