The Temporary Exhibition of the Mechanism and the Antikythera shipwreck...>>

Plates and cups from the Antikythera shipwreck

Material: Clay
Provenance: Antikythera shipwreck
Date: 60 BC- 50 BC
Exhibition Place:Temporary Exhibitions Wing, Room II

The Antikythera ship transported, as a part of its cargo, a quantity of fine tableware, mostly plates of various sizes and cups. Their main characteristic is the bright red to orange slip and the interior stamped decoration consisting of concentric notched homocentric circles (the so-called "rouletting"), combined with palmettes.

This distinctive and highly standardized mass-production late Hellenistic pottery, known as "Eastern Sigillata A ware" (ESA), emerged around the middle of the 2nd c. BC., and ceased to be produced in 2nd c. AD. It reached the peak of its dissemination around the mid-1st c. BC, at the time when the ship sank off the Antikythera coast. This kind of red-slipped ceramic ware was produced in huge quantities and was widely circulating particularly across the eastern Mediterranean, mainly along the Syropalestinian coast, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Cyclades, and in smaller numbers, in mainland Greece and Italian peninsula. The red-slipped pottery from the Antikythera shipwreck is, most probably, part of the output of a Syropalestinian workshop. It has been suggested that these vases, decorated with the distinctive combination of red-slipped coating and stamped decoration, emulate tableware of precious metals, and that coincide with the "rhosica vasa" mentioned by the Roman orator and politician Cicero (1st c. BC) and the "rhosic crockery" used by the queen Cleopatra of Egypt as stated by the alexandrian grammaticus Athenaeus of Naucratis (2nd c. AD). They were given this name after the city of Rhosus, a major export harbour for neighbouring Antioch, situated on the south coast of the Gulf of Issus. Sailing to Italy, the Antikythera ship, carried along with the rest of its precious cargo and a load of pottery of this kind, most probably destined for sale to the Roman aristocratic class (nobilitas), which was inclined towards eastern luxury.

Bibliography: ═. ╩altsas-┼. Vlachogianni-P. Bouyia (eds), The Antikythera Shipwreck: The ship-the treasures-the ╠echanism,Catalogue of the Archaeological Exhibition, ┴pril 2012- ┴pril 2013, ┴thens 2012.

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Position in the museum