Greek, Euboean or Cycladic; Found at Kourion, Cyprus
Terracotta; H. 45 1/4 in. (114.91 cm)
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.965)
During the eighth century B.C., the Geometric style that had originated in Athens spread throughout the Greek-speaking world. This beautifully proportioned krater found on Cyprus differs in a number of ways from other monumental Geometric kraters from Attica. Its shoulder is subdivided by four handles, rather than two, and its intricate decoration was applied over a light ceramic slip ground, instead of directly onto the clay. Since the 1870s, scholars have debated where this vase was made; current opinion attributes it to a workshop on Euboea, an island off the east coast of Attica, or to the island of Naxos, in the Cyclades.
In the central panel between the handles, two stags or goats stand on their hind legs to nibble at a tree. While the graceful long-legged animals are represented in a typically Geometric style, the motif of animals flanking a sacred tree derives from Near Eastern iconography. The double axes used to fill the space above the horses that face the central panel recall images from the Minoan culture that flourished on Crete during the second millennium B.C.