Lidded jar decorated with sphinxes, goats and floral motifs

From Achna, Cyprus
About 600-500 BC

A typical product of the time

This lidded jar is decorated with designs in red and black. The main frieze (band of decoration) on the body of the jar shows pairs of sphinxes facing each other with a floral motif between, and two more sphinxes, over similar floral motifs, each confronting a goat under either handle. The lower body shows bands of red and black and at the rim is a series of rosettes alternating with stripes and a roundel with black centre. The knobbed lid shows a frieze of guilloches at the top followed by pairs of rosettes with stripes in between and after every two an upright single spiral; below this another frieze of guilloches with rosettes with pointed petals below and 'teeth' around the lower rim. It could have been used for the storage of grains or perhaps for holding wine and water like the Greek stamnos.

The sphinxes, with their upright wings and aprons, are in the Phoenician style, as are the lotus flowers under the bellies of the sphinxes. Bichrome (two-coloured) ware reappeared in Cyprus early in the Iron Age as a result of influence from Syria and Phoenicia (modern Lebanon). Vases in this attractive pictorial style were characteristic products from pottery workshops of this time in the south and east of the island, where Achna is situated.

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More information


V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

V. Karageorghis and J. des Gagniers, La céramique Chypriote de styl (Rome, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per gli studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, 1974)


Height: 25.000 cm

Museum number

GR 1905.7-12.2 (Vases C 839)



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