Ancient Greece, Mycenaean Period, Late Helladic III, ca. 1400 to 1300 BCE. A charming wheel-thrown pottery pithos with a slight concave footed base, a piriform body with a bulbous midsection and a rounded shoulder, a trio of applied loop handles, and a squat neck with a flared rim. The exterior is decorated with red-brown pigment atop the cream-slipped ground in thick swaths around the foot, thin concentric bands on the midsection and beneath the shoulder, and solid layers on the handles as well as the rim interior and exterior. A register of sinuous vines and ivy leaves courses around the shoulder and terminates just beneath the base of the neck. Pithos jars were typically used as wine-serving vessels which had tight-fitting lids and are some of the most recognizable artifacts from ancient Mycenae. Size: 5.3" W x 6.4" H (13.5 cm x 16.3 cm).
This period is so named for the palace at Mycenae, famed in Homeric legend as the opulent seat of King Agamemnon. Excavations at the palace at Mycenae revealed an elite and long-lasting society with a great deal of wealth. This extended to the workshops of artisans who produced pottery like this vessel both for use in Greece and throughout the Mediterranean world; shiploads of similar jars went out as far as the Levant and Spain, carrying oil, wine, and other commodities.
For a stylistically-similar example, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 74.51.762: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/240349
A stylistically-similar example of a smaller form hammered for GBP 3,750 ($4,941.09) at Christie's, London Antiquities Auction (sale 12239, July 6, 2016, lot 47): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ancient-art-antiquities/a-mycenaean-pottery-pithos-late-helladic-iii-6009366-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=6009366&sid=9b21ea9e-1935-40b9-8ed0-27e9d0620224
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Richard Wagner collection, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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Original lid missing. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, fading and chipping to several areas of pigmentation, minor nicks to rim, handles, body, and base, with some stable hairline fissures visible on interior. Nice earthen deposits and traces of pigmentation throughout. Nice manganese blooms in scattered areas.