Gold kantharos (drinking cup with two high vertical handles)

Period: Late Helladic I

Date: ca. 1550–1500 B.C.

Culture: Helladic, Mycenaean

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: Overall: 3 1/8 x 6 5/8 x 3 1/2 in. (7.9 x 16.8 x 8.9 cm)

Classification: Gold and Silver

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1907

Accession Number: 07.286.126


This gold kantharos (drinking cup with two high vertical handles) represents one of the Greek vase shapes that became prominent during the Middle Helladic period (ca. 2000–1600 B.C.). A similar cup, the so-called Minyan kantharos, was found in the Shaft Graves at Mycenae. Like the cup from Mycenae, this one has a double profile, concave above convex, and narrows to a slightly offset base ring. A raised central boss and two concentric circles decorate the bottom of the vase. The body of the vessel was raised from a thin sheet of gold. Its handles were made separately from strips of gold folded over copper wire and then attached with gold-plated bronze rivets. This technique of folding the edges over a copper or bronze strengthening wire is characteristic of Mycenaean workmanship. The handles are decorated in repoussé with a pattern of leaves growing from vertical ribs. While the cup and handles are ancient, both show evidence of reworking, and it is possible that elements have been combined that did not originally belong together.