Height: 35.000 cm
Gift of a member of the Greek and Roman Department's international group of supporters, the Caryatids
Room 22: Alexander the Great
Clay ground 'Hadra' water-jar (hydria), attributed to the Dromeus Painter
Greek, around 200 BC
Made on the island of Crete; probably from Egypt
Once held the ashes of Dorotheos
'Hadra' hydriai are named after the Alexandrian cemetery of Hadra where large numbers of them have been excavated. Some were made locally, but analysis of the clay has demonstrated that many, including this example, were imported from Crete. Their principal use appears to have been as ash-urns to contain the remains of foreign dignitaries who became ill and died while on official visits to the Egyptian court. Such deaths may have occurred because of the Egyptian climate or other health hazards.
This vase is decorated in the black-figure technique, with a bull's head flanked by swans in a panel between the handles. The plunging dolphins on the shoulder are a popular Hellenistic motif. The Greek word Dorotheou, 'of Dorotheos', incised above the bull's head, is the name of the person whose ashes this vase originally contained.
D. Williams, Greek vases (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)