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Lekythos with gynaeceum scene

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Fired and painted clay

Outline technique and polychromeSalto de línea Attica (Greece)Salto de línea Achilles Painter Salto de línea 440 BC

The scene on this perfume jar, used in the Athenian funerary ritual during the Classical period, does not depict the cemetery—the customary theme of most Attic lekythoi from that time—but shows us the intimacy of the gynaeceum: a woman preparing for her bath, attended by a servant who hands her a jar of perfume. But perhaps there is another, hidden meaning beneath this seemingly routine scene: these may be preparations for the ritual bath taken by the maiden before her wedding, and because it is a funerary vessel the wedding will be in Hades.


The scenes painted on Greek pottery tell us much about daily life in the Greek polis: its social structure, the status of men and women and the activities they performed, and the world of their gods and heroes. The different scenes also bear witness to the importance of Greek trade in the Mediterranean, from the eighth to the fourth century BC, and to the legacy of that ancient culture which still lives on today.