Exhibitions/ Art Object

Terracotta vase in the form of an astragal (knucklebone)

Attributed to an artist recalling the Painter of London D 12
ca. 460 B.C.
Greek, Attic
Terracotta; red-figure
H. 3 15/16 in. (10 cm); length 6 7/8 in. (17.4 cm); H. with handle 4 15/16 in. (12.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 159
Astragals were popular toys in antiquity. As each side of an astragal is distinctive, what mattered in a game was how the pieces fell. Such games of chance also acquired prophetic or erotic aspects. The poet Anacreon wrote about the astragals of Eros—the dice of love. It is entirely appropriate that this large example is decorated with a lyre-playing Eros.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1941. "An Athenian Astragalos." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 36(5): pp. 122–23.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. p. 229, pl. 69g, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Beazley, John D. 1963[1942]. Attic Red-figure Vase-painters, Vols. 1 and 2, 2nd ed. p. 965, middle, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1978. Antichnoe iskusstvo iz muzeia Metropoliten, Soedinennye Shtaty Ameriki: Katalog vystavki. no. 61, Moscow: Sovetskii Khudozhnik.

Hermary, Antoine. 2012. "L'Amour des Jeunes Garçon dans la Grèce classique: a propos d'un Astragale Inscrit d'Apollonia du Pont." L'Enfant et la Mort Dans L'Antiquité III: Le Matériel Associé aux Tombes d'Enfants, Bibliothèque d'Archéologie Méditerranéenne et Africaine, 12. pp. 419-20, fig. 2, Paris: Errance.

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