Cycladic "frying-pan"

Unknown"2800-2700 BC" - ""

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art
Athens, Greece

This type of clay vase, particularly common in the Cyclades and the Greek mainland in the Early Bronze Age, owes its conventional name to its characteristic shape and not to its use, which is kind of an enigma. "Frying pans" have low vertical or slightly flaring walls and a forked or quadrilateral "handle", while the surface of the "base" usually bears incised or impressed decoration. The illustrated example is decorated with seven concentric circles in the central section surrounded by irregular triangles, the remaining space being filled with dots and incised lines. The motif may represent the sun or a star. Other common motifs include single or running spirals, sometimes with incised boats in between. Vases of this type are mainly found in graves but as they also occur in settlements it is clear that they were used in daily life, too. The interpretations proposed for their function vary considerably: ritual vessels for libations or offerings to the dead, containers for cosmetic objects of the dead, mirrors, drums for funerary rituals, navigational instruments, plates for food, symbolic vessels emphasizing the power of natural elements (sun, sea), etc.


  • Title: Cycladic "frying-pan"
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Creator Gender: None
  • Date Created: "2800-2700 BC" - ""
  • Provenance: Unknown
  • Physical Dimensions: w160 mm
  • Period: Early Bronze Age
  • Culture: Cycladic
  • Type: frying pan vessel
  • Rights: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, N.P. Goulandis Collection, no. 99, http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=25&clang=1
  • External Link: Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • Medium: clay

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