Terracotta neck-amphora

Period: Geometric

Date: 4th quarter of the 8th century B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: H.: 27 in. (68.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.210.7


This tall wide-mouthed amphora represents the fully developed Geometric style and illustrates the profoundly significant shift of focus from abstract design to the human figure. Decorative bands, consisting of a zigzag, crosshatching, and dots, fill the area above and below the two main figural scenes. On each side of the amphora's neck is a warrior with a round shield poised between two horses; a long-legged bird stands beneath each horse. Five two-horse chariots with charioteers parade around the belly of the vessel. Each driver wears a long robe and holds four reins, signifying that two horses, not one, pull each chariot. Anatomical details of the warriors, charioteers, and horses have been reduced to simple geometric shapes. Characteristically, the heads are rendered in profile and the bodies in three-quarter view. Scattered lozenges, zigzags, and other shapes fill the background of both figural scenes. Snakes modeled in the round set off the lip, shoulder, and tall handles of the amphora.
Armed warriors, chariots, and horses are the most familiar iconography of the Geometric period. Whether these images reflect a real world of military threat and conflict, or refer to the heroic deeds of ancestors, is a longstanding debate in studies of Geometric art. Snakes, traditionally associated with death, probably refer to this amphora's function as a funerary dedication.