Terracotta aryballos in the form of an eagle's head

Period: Archaic

Date: ca. late 7th –early 6th century B.C.

Culture: Greek, Rhodian

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: Length: 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift, in memory of Sleiman and Souad Aboutaam, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.267


Archaic vases in figural form are delightful for the variety of shapes they assume and the freshness of their execution. Though known from all parts of Greece, their production is particularly associated with Rhodes and eastern Greece. They served as containers for scented oil, and perhaps also for medicinal preparations. This aryballos, in the form of an eagle's head, is a welcome addition to the Museum's representation of figural vases. The type is rare, as only about a dozen examples are known. It is also noteworthy for an ostensibly cosmetic function, because in Archaic art birds of prey and their relatives the griffins are most familiar in bronze as finials or fierce attachments on large cauldrons. However, the iconography of figural vases is often decidedly masculine, with a significant number of helmeted warriors, as well as legs, male genitalia, and sandaled feet. Since aryballos were used by athletes, some of the figural types may have catered to the tastes of eastern Greek men.