'Octopus Style' stirrup jar


British Museum

British Museum

This attractive stirrup jar was placed in a tomb at Ialysos on Rhodes as a grave offering. It was probably originally used to store perfumed oil. The jar is decorated with a highly stylized cuttlefish, its natural form reduced to a series of patterns. A long-necked bird is painted on the left of the cuttlefish, beneath one of its tentacles.The distinctive style of this jar is known as the 'Octopus Style', which was made in several areas of the Mycenaean world after the destruction of the palaces around 1200 BC. It is clear from the contents of the chamber tombs at Ialysos that the settlement there continued to flourish in the twelfth century BC, perhaps even receiving a new influx of settlers from more disrupted areas of the Mycenaean world.

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  • Title: 'Octopus Style' stirrup jar
  • Date Created: -1200/-1090
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 22.30cm; Diameter: 20.70cm (max); Weight: 1.05kg; Diameter: 9.00cm (base); Diameter: 4.80cm (false mouth); Diameter: 4.00cm (spout)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: wheel-made; painted
  • Subject: bird; mollusc
  • Registration number: 1870,1008.96
  • Production place: Made in Greece
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Ialysus
  • Period/culture: Late Helladic IIIC
  • Material: pottery
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Biliotti, Alfred. Funded by Ruskin, John