ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, Geometric Amphora Room 07

Audio File length: 2.18
English / USA Language: English / USA

The huge “Geometric Amphora” dates to around 770 BC. It was purposely created to be placed, as a token of recognition, on the tomb of a woman.

If you take a close look at the extremely detailed decoration, there are two aspects you’ll notice: overall this is a supremely orderly design, and each shape, including those that represent the human figures, is depicted using geometric designs and patterns. This does not indicate a limitation on the part of the artist, but rather of his intention to bring a sense of order to the cosmos, symbolically portrayed on the bands of decoration which divide it. The aim was not to show reality, depicted in previous periods with a vigorously naturalistic approach, but rather to symbolize the world using abstract shapes. Thus, the period the vase was crafted in is referred to as the Geometric Period.

On the band between the handles you can see a representation of death, the culmination of human existence. The dead woman is lying on a bed, and the figures around her with their arms raised are in despair. The other bands feature abstract designs or animals, in series of identical individuals. The artist thus seeks to show that only humans have an awareness of death.

This museum houses the world’s most extraordinary collection of painted pottery vases, one of the most typical objects of Greek art. You can easily see, however, that these objects are not intended for everyday use like our tableware sets; they are works of art, created by supremely talented craftsmen, which were exported throughout the ancient world. But how did they manage to reach us, and what were they used for?

These painted vases were luxury items, crafted as prestigious gifts, to be dedicated to gods in a temple, as a prize for the winner of a competition, or to accompany the deceased when they were laid to rest. It is these vases placed in tombs that have been found and can be admired today.


An interesting fact: you may already know patterns like those that wind their way around the decorative bands like coils, forming right-angled designs, are called meanders. What you may not know is that the term derives from the Meander River in Turkey, famous for its twisting, turning course.

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