Greek Artifacts

These artifacts are all from 1200 BC - 800 BC. This was the estimated time in which the famous poet Homer was thought to have lived.

In Greek antiquity, a pyxis was a box used to store cosmetic items. It could be made from a variety of materials, including pottery. This flat, circular box was made in Athens, in what is known as the ‘Geometric’ period, after the superbly precise geometrical decorations with which vases were painted. In this case, the ornamentation consists of lines, bands, and an encircling meander pattern as the primary motif. The lid is embellished with the figures of two small horses, which serve as a handle. The fact that so many cosmetic boxes were found shows how the women cared about their appearance.
This is one of the very few virtually complete Cypriot vessel stands on wheels. The cast ring shows a frieze of animals. These include pairs of lions attacking a creature, perhaps a man, and a grazing deer. The main decoration, in the openwork technique, is in two unequal registers. One side shows, in the upper register, a sphinx wearing a flat cap of the type common in Mycenaean Greece and Crete, and in the lower, two birds. Also familiar in Mycenaean Greece is the lion in another scene who, moving to the right, grips a long-necked water-bird by the neck. The lower register of this scene is in poor condition, but perhaps originally showed dolphins. A two-horse chariot with driver and passenger moves to the right in the next upper register. It has six-spoke wheels (like the stand itself) and the light cab has a quiver hanging on the side. The lower register may show three water-birds. In the fourth upper register a seated figure playing a stringed instrument is approached by two figures of whom the first plays a similar stringed instrument. The third figure, evidently a serving boy, carries a jug in his right hand and raises a stemmed cup to face level in his left. In the lower register a long-necked water-bird attacks a fish or dolphin. The technical skills of casting, hard soldering and hammering, and the openwork technique, which would have been required to make this vessel stand, are among those adopted at this time by Cypriot bronze workers under influence from Mycenaean Greece, Egypt and the Near East.
This is a statue of the Greek goddess Athena as she wears her Aegis and her chariot drawn by horses. The artifact was found in Cyprus, and it shows the strong cultural ties that Cyprus had with Greece. It also shows how influential Greek mythology was to the people's identities, how their lives and faith lie in the Greek gods and goddesses
Proto-geometric clay flask with dense linear decoration in a radial arrangement. The central panel contains two groups of goats or deer, flanking an abstractly rendered tree of life. Both Attic and Euboean-Cycladic circle influences may be discerned in the vase-painting.
The small number of ivories from the Late Bronze Age town of Hala Sultan Tekke were probably carved locally and, like other products of Cypriot ivory workshops at this time, they show influences from both east and west. The theme of the bull with a backward-turning head has a long history in Mycenaean Greece, and is ultimately derived from the art of Minoan Crete. This example is particularly freely drawn, the incised line firmly and surely outlining the graceful animal. There is even an unusual attempt at a three-quarter view, shown in the position of the horns. The disc may originally have been the lid of a cylindrical box in ivory or wood.
Mycenaean 'Pictorial Style' vases were produced between about 1400 and 1150 BC, mainly in the Argolid (the area round Mycenae that was the heartland of Mycenaean culture). Chariot scenes, birds, bulls and fish were favourite subjects. They were painted in a lively style in red or red-brown paint on a buff background. Mythological creatures, such as griffins and sphinxes on this vessel, were relatively rare. Large 'Pictorial Style' vessels - mainly bowls and kraters - were exported to the east Greek islands and to Cyprus, where they were particularly popular. They presumably had a domestic use - perhaps to contain foodstuffs or wine - but were often later placed in graves. On one side of this vase a pair of sphinxes are depicted flanking a stylized tree in an heraldic manner. The sphinxes are winged and wear elaborate plumed headdresses. On the other side of the vase are griffins, one of which is pulling a chariot with a standing charioteer and passenger. Sphinxes, with lions' bodies and human heads, and griffins, with lions' bodies and birds' heads, are often shown accompanying a deity in Minoan and Mycenaean art. They may also have specific associations with death and burial, suggesting the possibility at least that this vase was made not for domestic use but for the tomb. The Greek's fascination with storytelling through images is depicted in these vases.
Ivory cosmetic boxes from the Late Bronze Age (about 1650-1050 BC) have been found in many of the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Greece and Cyprus to Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. They were clearly considered desirable luxury items. Duck-shaped boxes were particularly widely distributed; a variant was shaped like a swimming girl pushing a bowl, which could be either duck-shaped or plain. It is not clear if the vessel shown here had a duck-shaped bowl, but some sort of a lid is missing so the object is a box and not a large spoon. In the richly mixed cultural world of the Late Bronze Age, ideas could pass from one area to another quickly. A fashion started in the Syro-Palestinian region could very soon be adopted or adapted in Egypt, and vice versa. The makers of Cypriot ivories incorporated influences both from the East and from the Mycenaean Greek west and it is often difficult to trace them to a specific origin. However, the carver of this particular piece had certainly looked eastwards for inspiration.
Minoan craftsmen were particularly skilled at the art of seal engraving. Though small, Minoan seal stones often show scenes that are both beautifully carved and an insight into this ancient culture. Seals had a practical purpose - they were used to impress a pattern onto lumps of clay around the fastenings of doors, jars, boxes, and even bundles of documents. They could indicate ownership or the identity of a controlling authority, and were part of the Minoan administrative systems that controlled movements of goods and produce. The seals were also decorative: the stones used were usually attractive, and the seals could be worn like jewelery, suspended from the wrist or neck. This example, carved in agate, shows a man leading a tethered bull. Bulls are very common in Minoan art, perhaps most famously in bull-jumping scenes. Representations of the capture and leading of bulls may represent the preliminaries to these bull sports. From this piece we can see how important storytelling was, how it influenced Greek culture and identity, carrying stories of wars and battles anywhere, even in a piece of jewelry.
Description Large numbers of weapons, many of them broken or damaged, were placed in the graves of Mycenaean warriors, probably as a sign of their prowess in battle. Many of the earlier swords and daggers had a narrow tang to which a hilt was rivetted: these had a tendency to break off in battle. The integral hilt and pommel of this dagger would have made it, in contrast, a very sturdy weapon. The unusual shape of the hilt and the down turned horns of the handgrip probably derive from Near Eastern examples. This dagger probably came from the island of Ithaca, legendary home of the hero Odysseus, who fought at Troy and who gave his name to Homer's great epic poem, The Odyssey.
This seal-stone is made of banded agate, an attractive and quite widely available semi-precious stone. The scene carved on its face shows two lions placed heraldically on either side of a sacred pillar, from which their heads are turned away. This arrangement of lions flanking a pillar can be seen, carved on a much grander scale, in the triangular stone block above the main gateway of the citadel of Mycenae. The heads of the lions that give their name to the 'Lion Gate' at Mycenae are missing, and their original appearance has long been a puzzle to archaeologists. This seal-stone shows one possible solution: the heads may have been turned completely, so that the lions looked away from the pillar. However, the case cannot be proved, and it remains possible that the heads were carved with the lions looking outwards and guarding the approach to the palace.
Two identical female figures hold their arms by their sides and each wears a polos or headdress, probably indicating that they are goddesses. Although the inspiration for figures like this certainly came from the east, it is not clear who the two females represent. The figurine was found in a well in the precinct of the Temple of Athena at Kamiros in Rhodes. It seems to have been part of a group of votive objects cleared from the site, perhaps after a phase of demolition, as other objects in the group show signs of burning. The figurine was probably carved locally, perhaps specifically for dedication at the sanctuary. It is one of the many artifacts influenced by Greek gods and goddesses, as well as showing how important those myths were to the people
Small bronze horses were frequently dedications in the shrines and sanctuaries of Geometric Greece, perhaps indicating the wealth or status of the donor. Those produced in Sparta, which was famous for its bronzes, are stylized in a distinctive way. There is an interesting intaglio design under the base of this horse, showing a pair of twinned warriors arranged back-to-back. They have been identified as a pair of Siamese twins referred to in the writings of Homer (where it is implied that they are Siamese twins but not stated) and Hesiod. The twins were known as the Aktorione, or sometimes the Molione, and belonged to a time before the Trojan War. Their combat with the young King Nestor of Pylos is mentioned in Homer's Iliad, and they were said to have been killed by the hero Herakles. The twins feature prominently in Geometric art, at a time when the representation of heroic stories was only just beginning. It has been suggested that the Neleids, an Athenian family of the eighth century BC, claimed descent from the heroic kings of Pylos and may therefore have used the twins as a distinctive family crest.
Part of a necklace with four-spiral ornaments and tubular beads from Protogeometric graves. This type of jewellery is also known from the Mycenaean period. From this one can see how influential geometric art was
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