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Arkalochori. 525-500 BC

The Archaic pithoi of the 7th and 6th centuries BC are high-capacity storage jars forming a distinct category of vessel produced by specialised pottery workshops. The complex relief ornaments were made separately in moulds and attached to the surface of the pot, or impressed with stamps. They include fantastical creatures, animals and geometric themes, or, more rarely, mythological and ritual scenes. This pithoid jar from Arkalochori stands out for its large size and rich relief decoration. This includes various linear motifs and also mixed patterns, such as the wavy line combined with panther heads. The panels on the neck and shoulder of the vessel are works of high artistic quality. In the neck zone is depicted a young man in a sleeved chiton tunic, bending slightly forward and uncoiling a rope, the ends of which are attached to two horses, one on either side of him. The groom’s stance and movement are exceptionally rendered, his lively stride and backwards turn of the head also providing a sense of perspective. The result is heightened by the depiction of the horses, legs in movement and heads turned frontally. In the shoulder zone is a rare scene of two facing pairs of rams about to butt heads. Besides the naturalistic rendering of the heads, particular attention was paid to the details of the fleece and the movement of the animals. An unusual feature, both for the time and for this type of vessel, is the fact that in front of the right-hand ram is incised its name: πῖος (pios), meaning “plump” or “fruitful”. The name that probably accompanied the corresponding ram on the left has unfortunately been lost. The vessel is a technical and artistic masterpiece, a valuable possession demonstrating its owner’s wealth. It is no coincidence that it survived and remained in continuous use for almost three centuries after it was made, until the destruction of the settlement after the mid-3rd century BC.
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