July 2018

Attic oinochoe in the form of a female head, from ancient Aphytis (Chalcidice)

The female face has large almond-shaped eyes, which are crowned by thin, arched eyebrows.

The tone in the facial expression is provided by the faint smile formed by the fleshy lips. The hair surrounding the forehead and the cheeks is formed as four rows of dotted locks, while the rest is gathered in a saccos. The latter is decorated with an ivy wreath, with white applied colour. The motif of the ivy contains a clear reference to Dionysos and refers to the symposium.

The vase belongs to Group N (Cook Class) according to Beazley's classification. They are generally dated to the period 480-460 BC and they were widespread around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Head vases firstly appeared in the late 7th c. BC in eastern Greece. The potters of Attica adopted this shape in the late 6th c., with a clear preference towards female heads. Regarding the interpretation of the depicted women, some scholars have argued for their identification as goddess Aphrodite, while many have expressed the view that they represent courtesans or wine pourers, i.e. women who had a role in the context of the symposium. Besides, these vessels were intended for symposia (banquets).

You can see the exhibit at the temporary exhibition Figurines. A microcosm of clay.