Lekythos

Greek Lekythos Vase-
500 – 475 BCE, Athens
Material: terracotta
Size: 25.7 x 7.9 cm

This type of vase is a lekythos. The artifact is a tall, slender vase with a small circular opening at the top. The artifact has a black background with red figures. The area joining the neck and body is characterized by a smooth downward slope that creates a near-horizontal surface before abruptly transitioning into the vertical plane of the body. The body of the bottle gradually narrows at an increasing rate until it reaches a pinched circular base atop a thick disc, which is smaller in diameter than the widest part of the bottle. The bottom of the handle is fixed to the top of the body of the bottle and the top of the neck of the bottle.

scene of scilenus on lekythos

The scene painted on this lekythos consists of a red-figure silenus, identifiable by its horse tail. The nude silenus stands in a bent-over position and gazes into or over a handheld mirror. In contrast with other depictions of sileni, this subject has anthropomorphic eyes and feet. It is also shown alongside a chair, which is not associated with the traditional natural environment of sileni. The silenus figure is represented via the red-figure technique, a later innovation made in ancient Greek pottery in order to better illustrate fine details and movement. This narrative is important because it shows an aspect of culture which discusses the way sileni and even satyrs are portrayed then. Many artists developed the concept of satyrs and sileni into humorous pieces. They discriminated against half animal, half human creatures, and therefore portrayed them in a humiliating way in their art works.

comparative image of the Lekythos

This artifact is a narrow cylindrical flask made of fired clay that was used for storing oils such as olive oil. Lekythoi are associated with baths, gymnasiums, and funerary offerings. Despite its small size, it is intricately decorated with a combination of black-figure and red-figure techniques. Black-figure elements are created by painting a glaze/slip over the pottery, while red-figure elements consist of the negative space colored by the unglazed areas of the clay.

In the interactive strategy portion of this exhibit, three miniature lekythos vases were constructed with 3-dimensional printing. These models were then painted to show the different stages in which the lekythos were created, thus displaying how the development and creation of the original lekythos. One life-size lekythos was also 3-dimensionally printed, painted, and hollowed out. This model was painted to mirror the real lekythos, and it was hollowed out and filled with olive oil that the participants could pour into a separate vessel themselves.

This is an exciting exhibit as it allows viewers to directly interact with the object and see how the original piece was created. In addition, the use of a functional, life-size model will allow the audience to recreate the experience of the Greeks, and understand why the Greeks emphasized the incorporation of beauty in all aspects of life, even in ordinary, everyday objects.