Model of a granary or beehive decorated with geometric patterns

Late Geometric period, about 730-700 BC
From Athens, Greece

Honey or grain?

Several pottery models similar in shape to this one, roughly conical and with a door-like opening set high in the wall, have been found in Athenian cemeteries of the Geometric period. Some are found singly, others in groups of two, three or even five. The lid of a box found in an exceptionally rich tomb of a woman in the Kerameikos cemetery is decorated with five.

Because we know so little about the domestic architecture of the period, or its agricultural equipment, we cannot be certain what the models represent. If they are granaries, they may symbolize the wealth, in terms of grain-bearing land, of the families of the dead in whose tombs they were laid. However, there are strong connections in Greek thought between bees, honey and life after death, so beehives might seem more suitable grave-offerings than granaries.

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S. Langdon, From pasture to polis: life an (Columbia, Missouri, 1993)


Height: 9.500 cm

Museum number

GR 1997.8-15.1


Purchased with the assistance of the Caryatid Fund and The British Museum Friends


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