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Attic pottery red-figure owl skyphos, 400 B.C.

Conservation:  Repaired
Material:  Pottery
Dimensions:  14 x 7 cm
Provenance:  L. Marsh, London 1987; Baptist Cunningham, London 2000; Amok Wiersma, Utrecht 2007; Acquired from the above by Finn Delvaux in 2014, Brussels


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A red-figured ceramic skyphos in a classical form consisting of a deep cup with twin loop handles and a low rimmed base. On each side the painter depicts an owl between two olive leaves. This type of skyphos was very popular for several centuries, initially exported from Athens throughout Magna Graecia.

The owl is a symbol of Athena, and was often shown accompanying her during the classical period; Athena, of course, was the goddess of the city of Athens, so the owl became a symbol of Athens and its government. The olive tree is also associated with Athens. It is said that Athena and Poseidon disputed the city of Athens and Athena planted an olive tree on the Acropolis to show that it belonged to her.

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