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Work Lebes

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Sépulture attique

© 2005 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Marie-Bénédicte Astier

This cinerary casket comes from an Attic grave discovered at Faliro, a port of Athens located east of Piraeus. The object, dating from the latter decades of the 6th century BC, consists of a lidded bowl made of marble (Ma 3164) in which was placed a bronze lebes containing the cremated remains of the deceased. This vessel has four attachment devices: two loops for the handles and two others for the small metal rods that held the lid in place.

Items from an Attic grave

This funerary casket containing the ashes and incinerated bones of the deceased person was found in an Attic grave at Falira, a port of Athens east of Piraeus. The grave dates from the latter decades of the 6th century BC. The cinerary urn entered the Louvre after being purchased in 1904.

A cinerary casket

This object consists of a cylindrical vessel widening slightly toward the top, covered with a flat lid and carved out of marble from Mount Hymettus (Attica). The exterior of the bowl and its lid are rough-hewn point work, while its inner walls are roughed out with a claw chisel. The marble casket contains a bronze lebes-a sort of pot-bellied cauldron-in which the incinerated bones of the deceased still lie. These remains were probably originally wrapped in a piece of fabric, as seen in a number of urns found in Attica. The lebes has four attachment devices: two loops for the handles and two with central holes for the small metal rods that held the lid in place.

A widely used vessel

This type of lebes with four loop attachments was widely used in Attica from the late Archaic period throughout the 5th century BC, either as an ex-voto in temples or as a cinerary urn in cemeteries. Shortly after the Persian wars, it was given as a reward to winning athletes of games at new events such as the Epitaphia, the Heracleia, and the Eleutheria. The winners could then use the vessel as a cinerary urn. Several such examples, including the Ambelokipi lebes at the Louvre, have been found in Attic graves. An official inscription was sometimes engraved on the lip of the vase. The Ambelokipi lebes bears one by the magistrates organizing the competitions at funerary games.

Technical description

  • Sépulture attique

    Dernier tiers du VIe siècle avant J.-C.

    Provenance : Phalère

  • H. : 38 cm. ; D. : 60 cm. (coffre)Pr. : 7,50 cm. (couvercle)

  • Acquisition 1904 , 1904

    Ma 3164, Br 2589

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 663

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