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is a type of Greek pottery
As the result of its relative durability, pottery is a large part of the archaeological record of Ancient Greece, and because there is so much of it it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society...
used for storing oil (Greek λήκυθος), especially olive oil. It has a narrow body and one handle attached to the neck of the vessel. The lekythos was used for anointing dead bodies of unmarried men and many lekythoi are found in tombs. The images on lekythoi were often depictions of daily activities or rituals. Because they are so often used in funerary situations, they may also depict funerary rites, a scene of loss, or a sense of departure as a form of funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...
. These drawings are usually outline drawings that are quite expressionless and somber in appearance. The decoration of these ceramic vessels consists of a dull red and black paint. These colors may have been derived from the Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...
, but were not used until 530 BC in Athens. Many artists of these vessels attempt to add more color to the figures, but end up abandoning the idea as to leave more of a contrast. These vessels were very popular circa the 5th century BC, however there are many that have been found dating all the way back to 700 BC.
Lekythoi can be divided into five types:
- the standard or cylindrical lekythos, which measures between 30 and 50 cm though there are much larger lekythoi, up to 1 m, which may have been used to replace funerary stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...
- the Deianeria lekythos which originates from Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...
, this form has an oval profile and a round shoulder and is generally of a small size (20 cm), it was produced from the beginning of the black figure period until the late 6th century,
- the secondary or shoulder lekythos, a variation on the standard type produced from the mid 5th century on, most are decorated with the white ground technique and measure around 20 cm,
- the squat lekythos, usually less than 20 cm in height with a rounded belly and a flat base,
- the acorn lekythos, a rarer form, which has an oval profile and a net of points at the base.
- Corpus vasorum antiquorum
Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum is an international research project for ceramic documentation of the classical area.CVA is the first and oldest research project of the Union Académique Internationale of France. The first project meeting was organized by Edmond Pottier in Paris in 1919. The final...
A loutrophoros is a distinctive type of Greek pottery vessel characterized by an elongated neck with two handles. The loutrophoros was used to hold water during marriage and funeral rituals, and was placed in the tombs of the unmarried...
- Reed Painter
The Reed Painter is an anonymous Greek vase painter of white-ground lekythoi, a type of vessel for containing oil often left as grave offerings...