Neck-handled amphora with two designs of concentric circles

Greek, Protogeometric period, about 975-950 BC
Probably from Athens, Greece

A fine Protogeometric pot

This jar may have served a variety of functions. However, most jars of this shape, with the handles attached to the neck, have been found to contain the cremated remains of men and boys. Jars with the handles attached lower down on the body were used for female burials.

The geometric patterns that decorate the pottery of the period between about 900 and 700 BC are so distinctive that these centuries are often referred to as the Geometric period. This pot belongs to the preceding Protogeometric period, when Greece was just starting to emerge from the 'Dark Age' that had followed the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization around 1200 BC.

A renaissance in pottery production took place in Athens in the Protogeometric period. Technique seems to have improved with more careful preparation of the clay. Improved appearance of the slip used for decoration was probably the result of better preparation and higher firing temperatures. The earliest Protogeometric pots, like this one, have a light colour scheme, with sparse but often carefully executed decoration. The concentric circles on the shoulder of the pot were a popular form of Protogeometric ornament, produced with a newly invented tool: a multiple brush attached to one arm of a compass.

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More information


J. Boardman, Early Greek vase painting: 11t (London, Thames and Hudson, 1998)

D. Williams, Greek vases (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 43.400 cm

Museum number

GR 1978.7-1.8 (Vase A 1124)


Elgin Collection


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