'West Slope' ware jug (oinochoe) with a gorgon's head on the neck

Greek, about 200-150 BC
Made on the island of Crete; from Benghazi, Libya

An ambitious design showing cubes in three dimensions

'West Slope' ware is named from early finds made on the west slope of the Athenian Acropolis. It is a class of Hellenistic pottery that is essentially black-glaze with relief and polychrome decoration. West Slope ware seems a natural successor to pieces made in Athens in the fourth century BC, such as a ribbed, black-glaze oinochoe from Capua in Campania. However, West Slope ware was also made in many other cities and regions including Corinth, Macedonia, Cyrenaica, Egypt, Pergamon and Crete between the third and the first centuries BC.

The mould-made gorgon's head on the neck of this vase is surrounded by a yellow, white and black feather or scale design that is perhaps intended to evoke the aegis of Athena on which the head of Medusa was set. The frieze that encircles the widest part of the vase bears an ambitious attempt to show cubes in three dimensions.

Crete was a major producer of fine pottery in the Hellenistic period. Cyrenaica, where this pot was found, was a common destination for Cretan wares, as was Ptolemaic Egypt.

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More information


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


Height: 28.300 cm

Museum number

GR 1856.10-1.29 (Vases G 12)



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