- Museum number
- Object: The Tamassos Vase
Large pottery krater or wine mixing bowl of Bichrome IV ware with painted and moulded figural decoration; wheel-made; ovoid body; low, cylindrical neck and flat rim; low ring base; on each side, two vertical strap handles from body to rim; below these on each side are two strap handles in the form of bulls' (or moufflons') heads with arched horns; underneath are palm tree motifs framing a bird and a deer respectively; made of pinkish clay and buff slip with black and red painted decoration; figural decoration with animals, birds and humans on each side (Side B mostly eroded, though this can be reconstructed through 19th-century accounts) framed by bands of horizontal parallel lines of varying width; hatched zig-zags in a band just below the upper handles.
Figural decoration: Side A: left side has two naked bearded male figures in a schematically rendered chariot with a long tassle pulled by an elongated horse; the left figure holds a vertical spear, the right has his right arms raised as if to throw a spear (?); large bird with red and black disc-like body and hatched wings and tail hovers over the horse; on the right a bearded huntsman wearing a cloak and a conical cap raises an axe over a fallen quadruped.
Side B: poorly preserved; left hand part of register shows a man in a (conical?) cap brandishing an axe over a mostly missing figure; he is facing a naked man with outstretched arms, wearing an elaborate tassled helmet, a round shield and single spear; his right hand holds a black object which may be the conical cap of another figure (part of whose right leg is preserved); on the right of the register, a long horned quadruped (goat or deer?) is threatened with a bow and arrow by a man wearing a cap with vertical projections (feathers or tassles?); indistinct traces of figures below; vase repaired from fragments and restored, surface very worn in many places.
- Production date
Diameter: 33.50 centimetres
Height: 47.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- For an account of the discovery of the vase and the dispute of the excavator with Col. Falkland Warren over the vase, see Ohnefalsch-Richter 1893, 36-7 and 38 note *, figs 37-8. The latter stated that the crater was found, with its foot missing, in a 'deep earth-tomb', but provides no further details (1893, 38 note *). Reinach added that it was found in a very deep pit accessed by a 'galerie ou couloir' (presumably a dromos of some description) closed by a wall composed of small stones (Reinach 1891, 265). See Buchholz et al 2010, 217ff for a detailed account of the cemetery in which the vase was found, including other tombs discovered in 1885, together with a discussion of the vase (with full references) on pp 396-402 and pls 214-17.
See Ohnefalsch-Richter 1893, 62-3 and figs 71, 75 on the iconography. Reinach also provides an important early account, including illustrations of the vessel before it was damaged during restoration (Reinach 1891, 294-300). The scene on Side B was originally interpreted as Perseus slaying the Gorgon (see Masson 1964, 297) but is more likely to represent a fighting scene complementing the chariot group on Side A (see discussion in Karageorghis and des Gagniers 1971; also Karageorghis 1966, 102-4 and fig. 1). Hermary sees the scene as heroic in nature, perhaps related to 'Homeric' epic (1991, 174-5 and passim for an important modern survey of the vessel).
Buchholz H.-G. et al. 2010, Tamassos. Ein antiker Stadstaat im Bergbaugebiet von Zypern. Band I. Die Nekropolen I, II und III. AOAT 48/1 (Münster).
Hermary A. 1991, 'Un combat homérique sur un vase Chypriote Archaïque', MEFRA 103/1, 167-75.
Karageorghis V. 1966, 'A propos de quelques represéntations de chars sur des vases chypriotes de l'Âge du Fer', BCH 90/1, 101-118.
Ohnefalsch-Richter M. 1893, Kypros, the Bible and Homer (London).
Reinach S. 1891, Chroniques d'Orient. Documents sur les fouilles et découvertes dans l'Orient hellénique de 1883 à 1890 (Paris).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number