Stand and bowl with griffin's heads


British Museum

British Museum

Wine-drinking as a part of large social events seems to have been introduced into Italy from the east around 800 BC. This magnificent bowl on a stand was a container for wine at banquets. It was found together with a large quantity of other pottery in a tomb at Cività Castellana, ancient Falerii, and dates to about 675-625 BC. The territory inhabited by the Faliscans was west of the Tiber on the south-eastern borders of Etruria, and Cività Castellana was the largest Faliscan town. The Etruscans strongly influenced the Faliscans, who also absorbed various elements of Greek culture. The Faliscans produced few luxury items, but they liked extravagant pottery. Terracotta bowls like this, with griffin heads, resemble those from Greece and the Near East made in bronze, and there are also bronze examples from Etruria.

The chains of the bowl, now broken, probably held stoppers which could be fitted into the griffins' throats. This would enable the wine to be either ladled out from the top or poured through one of the four apertures while the other three were stoppered. The designs of water-birds and mythical animals once painted on the bowl are now quite difficult to see with the naked eye. The birds resemble those on a pottery olla, also in the British Museum.

Show lessRead more
  • Title: Stand and bowl with griffin's heads
  • Date Created: -675/-625
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 130.81cm; Height: 95.25cm (stand only)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: griffin; bird
  • Registration number: 1892,0517.25
  • Production place: Made in Faliscan Territory
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Monte Cerreto
  • Period/culture: Faliscan
  • Material: terracotta
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Stillman, W J