|4th Century B.C
|125 mm x 220 mm
|Ex Swiss private collection, acquired since at least 1977
The skyphos, a prominent vessel in ancient Greek pottery, holds significance for its varied forms and functions throughout different periods. The term ‘skyphos’ generally refers to a deep, two-handled cup, but its specific characteristics evolved over time. During the Archaic period (8th to 6th centuries BCE), the skyphos commonly featured a rounded bowl, low foot, and horizontal handles. These early examples were often decorated with geometric patterns and stylized animal motifs, reflecting the artistic preferences of the time.
As Greek pottery transitioned into the Classical period (5th to 4th centuries BCE), the skyphos underwent changes in both form and ornamentation. Artists began to experiment with different shapes, resulting in variations like the “Type A” skyphos with an offset lip and the “Type B” with a more pronounced foot. Decorative elements became more intricate, featuring mythological scenes, athletic competitions, and representations of daily life. The skyphos, in its diversity, served various purposes, from everyday use in symposia (drinking parties) to religious and funerary contexts.
In the Hellenistic period (4th to 1st centuries BCE), the skyphos continued to evolve, with variations such as the “Graffito Skyphos” becoming popular. These vessels were characterized by engraved or incised inscriptions and images, adding a personalized touch to the drinking experience.