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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in Ancient Greece

Griffin head

Height: 23.400 cm
Width: 2.700 cm (central plaque)
Weight: 265.000 g (total)

GR 1870.3-15.16

Griffin head

From: Rhodes, Aegean Sea
Date: around 650 BC

This animal's head was once attached to a large bowl used for storing wine. It was probably meant to scare evil spirits away from the wine. In the 7th century BC Greek craftsmen started to look at artwork from Egypt and the Near East. From here they copied the idea of using fantastic creatures like griffins to decorate objects.

A griffin was made up of parts of different animals. Can you spot them?
The body of a lion
The beak of an eagle
The ears of a hare

Greek griffins also had a knob or spike on the head.