Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Archaic mixed style faience vessels


Virginia Webb

Distinctive faience aryballoi in the form of hedgehogs and other animals with Egyptian connections, such as Tilapia fish and grasshoppers, as well as spherical aryballoi, make up a large group of faience objects widely distributed in the Mediterranean world in the 6th century BC. Also in the repertoire are adaptions of East Greek ceramic aryballoi, such as helmeted heads, Achelous heads and Herakles’ head in lion skin, which are transformed with varying degrees of accuracy. There are also complex multiple creations. Although they are often given the label ‘from Naukratis’, only a small number of aryballoi have actually been found at the site.

A re-evaluation of the evidence from Naukratis suggests that while spherical aryballoi may originate in East Greece, hedgehog aryballoi and other figured aryballoi did have their origin in Egypt. For hedgehog aryballoi local production at Naukratis is highly likely, although there may also have been several other workshop centres in Lower Egypt and the Delta.

Aryballos in the form of a hedgehog from Naukratis. British Museum, EA 68829