Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2017.10.60 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.10.60

Bettina Kreuzer, Panathenäische Preisamphoren und rotfigurige Keramik aus dem Heraion von Samos. Samos, 23.   Wiesbaden:  Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2017.  Pp. 168.  ISBN 9783954902125.  €58.00.  

Reviewed by Mary B. Moore, Hunter College, CUNY (

All of the vases in this welcome new Samos volume are very fragmentary and their study presents a completely different challenge from working with whole vases. It is a little like trying to do a jig-saw puzzle with many pieces missing, and Kreuzer has met this challenge with great success. Her descriptions are very clear and detailed, the comparanda most useful, and the excellent photographs illustrate the material very well.

Panathenaic prize amphorae filled with olive oil were awarded to victors in athletic contests at the games held in honor of Athena in Athens every four years. These splendid large vases are found in all parts of the Greek world and comprise an important feature of Greek pottery, because the subjects on each reflect the event for which it was awarded. On the obverse, an armed Athena strides to left between columns surmounted by cocks, and the contest appears on the reverse. A large number of Panathenaics, all very fragmentary, were excavated in the Heraion at Samos and, while some have been published, the present volume includes all of them. Kreuzer gives a very good overview of this shape and its development, the chronological span of this material found at Samos, as well as relevant up-to-date bibliography (pp. 2-19).

She presents the fragments from the obverse first (pp. 21-41 pls. 1-8). Some entries focus on a single fragment, others embrace several. Each fragment is carefully described in detail, basic measurements are included as well as relevant bibliography, and each is illustrated in a good black and white photograph. On pl. 3, I wish the fragments of Panathenaic MSP [=Maler der samischen Preisamphoren] 6 had been arranged in the sequence in which they appeared on the vase; they appear rather hastily arranged. MSP 31-36 (pls. 12-14) depict small parts of chariot races to right. K 7539 (pl. 13) is incorrectly oriented; it should be turned counter clockwise so that what remains of the hind legs of the horses are more vertical (e.g., K 7434 on this plate). The line at the top of K 7539 is the tail of one of the horses, not a goad or rein held by the charioteer (p. 32). E 1 (pp. 39-41, pl. 19), several fragments from both sides of a splendid amphora attributed to the Eucharides Painter, preserves part of Athena and some of the boxers with their trainers.

The red-figured material in this volume presents many different shapes, ranging from large amphorae and kraters to drinking cups and other small vessels. In the preface (pp. 51-58), Kreuzer notes that the amount of Attic black figure dedicated in the Heraion lessens considerably in the later sixth century, no doubt due in part to inner historical turmoil as well as to a preference for vases decorated in red-figure. Many of the fragments are from layers of fill, thus in secondary contexts, which explains why their original provenances are unknown and many are so fragmentary or damaged. Kreuzer also presents a very useful discussion of figured vases found in other excavations in the Greek East, noting especially Miletos, Ephesos and Halicarnassos. She discusses the history of Samos in the late 6th and early 5th centuries in relation to mainland Asia and Greece.

Like the Panathenaics, all of these vases are fragmentary and none can be mended, though in some cases fragments join. Nearly all are illustrated in black and white photographs (on these plates, only the catalogue number is given, not the accession number).

No. 21, K 6306 (pp. 63-64, pl. 22), fragments of a pelike attributed to the Jena Painter (ca. 400 B.C.), shows parts of several figures, including women and a youth wearing a petasos. Kreuzer gives a lengthy discussion of this important vase and suggests that the scene might represent the Birth of Aphrodite. No. 32, K 6310 (p. 65, pl. 23) is a fragment of a major volute-krater with part of a frontal warrior, which Kreuzer attributes to Euphronios (ca. 510 B.C). No. 47, K 3965 (p. 69, pl. 23), showing part of a satyr playing the aulos, may be by the Kleophon Painter or in his manner (ca. 420-410 B.C.). No. 49, K 6313 (pp. 69-70, pl. 24), several fragments of a bell-krater by a painter near the Talos Painter (ca. 400 B.C.), preserves a youth to right holding a large sword in his outstretched left hand and part of a man in front of him facing another (youth?), the last two very fragmentary.

No. 54, K 1313 (pp. 70-72, pl. 25), several fragments of an unattributed bell-krater from the early 4th c. B.C., depicts an ambitious scene with the figures spaced within the composition: parts of two seated women, one to left looking back; a man to right holding a staff and a drinking horn; above him, Herakles seated to the right before a shrine holding his club, with Nike flying toward him. At the far right is a little bit of Athena, identified by a snake of her aegis. Kreuzer (pp. 71-72) gives a long discussion of this odd scene, which does not seem to present a readily identifiable subject, although Herakles before a shrine has quite a few parallels.

Next come the fragments of small vases (pp. 75-91, pls. 26-30). No. 79, T 521 (p. 75, pl. 26) is an oinochoe in the shape of woman’s head from the second quarter of the 5th c. No. 85, K 6312 (p. 76, pl. 27) depicts the head and shoulders of a woman to left holding out a chest in her right hand. Kreuzer compares this with work of the Eretria Painter (ca. 440-430 B.C.). No. 98, K 7087 (p. 78, pl. 27) preserves part of an askos in the shape of a lobster claw decorated with Eros flying to right and is attributed to a painter in the Penthesilea Workshop (mentioned by Beazley, ARV 2, p. 971, but not seen by him).

No. 150, K 1421 and K 1530 (pp. 85-86, pl. 29) includes three non-joining fragments of a lovely cup attributed to Douris (ca. 480-470 B.C.). The tondo preserves part of a man reclining to left against a pillow, holding a cup in his left hand (just a little remains), and a few units of the stopped maeander pattern encircling the composition. On the outside of this fragment there is part of a handle palmette and some of the arm and cloak of a man or youth to left.

No. 155, K 6314 (pp. 87-88, pl. 29), seven fragments of a splendid cup by the Pistoxenos Painter or in his manner is, for the reviewer, the showpiece of the volume. On the inside, on white ground, Herakles strides to right. Fragment a, joining fragment b, shows the right side of his torso, the lower part of his body to mid-thigh, some of the lion skin, its tail tucked under the hero’s belt, and two hind paws, the claws of the left paw glazed, which is unusual. Fragment d preserves the lower right side of Herakles’ head with part of the jaw of the lion skin as well as his right shoulder and upper arm. Fragment e shows his right forearm with the end of his club grasped in his hand. I am not sure fragment c belongs: it preserves one paw of the lion skin, but the claws are not glazed, and it is not clear how the rest of what remains (part of the lion skin[?], as suggested by Kreuzer [p. 87], and a little of an elbow and left forearm) fits into the composition. In the photograph, it is not clear that it joins fragment a. Fragment e preserves part of the rim and the line defining the tondo. From what remains, it seems as though Herakles is a single figure. The exterior of fragment e shows most of a youth to right and a column, and fragment d gives the feet and the end of a garment of a youth to left. In the tondo: [ΑΛΚΙ]ΜΑΧ[ΟΣ].

The rest of this volume presents small fragments of closed and open vases that do not preserve a feature that permits identification of the shape (pp. 91-93). Interesting among them is No. 184, K 7104 (pl. 30), a fragment from the first quarter of the fifth century that preserves the upper body of a nude male playing the kithara—usually, kitharodes are dressed. Kreuzer (p. 92) gives are very good discussion of this little fragment.

The text concludes with several indices: mythological figures; pictorial themes; painters; inscriptions; technical effects. There is a concordance of inventory and catalogue numbers, followed by abbreviations and a very extensive bibliography, and, lastly, a list of the photographic source for each entry. The black and white photographs (pls. 1-30 and 36) are printed at scales of 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3, the profile drawings (pls. 31-35) at 1:2 and 1:3.

If I may express one regret, it is that none of the material in this volume is published in color. This would have greatly enhanced the presentation of many of the fragments.

This welcome new volume of the Samos publications complements very well Kreuzer’s earlier volume of the Attic black-figured pottery from the Heraion (Samos XXII, 1998). The two form an impressive pair.

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