Askos with painted scenes and applied figures

Made at Canosa, Apulia (modern Puglia); found at Cuma in Campania, Italy
About 270-200 BC

This vase is basically an askos, a simple globular spouted vessel of a shape found in Italy for over two millennia. By the Hellenistic period askoi were over-burdened with a wealth of decoration. This example has two winged horses flying over a brown sea on a pink background. Three winged figures of Nike or Victory stand on the false spouts and handle, and foreparts of horses spring from the body of the vessel. The applied reliefs depict a winged head of the gorgon Medusa and a dancing maenad, a follower of Dionysos.

This type of vessel was frequently made to be placed inside tombs, and was clearly never intended to be functional. Another Canosan vessel, shaped like a head, is also in The British Museum.

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More information


F. van der Wielen-van Ommeren, 'Vases with polychrome and plastic decoration from Canosa' in Italian Iron Age artefacts i-8, Papers of the sixth British Museum classical colloqium (London, The British Museum Press, 1986), pp. 215-26


Height: 45.700 cm

Museum number

GR 1862.7-12.2 (Terracotta D 185)



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