The Joy of Museums

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Cycladic Pyxis

Hellenic Museum, Melbourne - Joy of Museums - Cycladic Pyxis

This “Cycladic Pyxis” is cylindrical with a lid. It is a vessel decorated with an incised herring-bone pattern. Such pyxi were common in burials of the Early Cycladic I period and were used as a container for jewellery or other small offerings.

Cycladic art originated from the ancient Cycladic culture which flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea from c. 3300 to 1100 BCE. The best-known art of this period and culture are the marble figures usually called Cycladic “idols” or “figurines”. The Cyclades is a group of Greek islands, southeast of the mainland in the Aegean Sea. It centers on the island of Delos, considered the birthplace of Apollo and home to some of Greece’s most important archaeological ruins.

Aegean Sea with island groups labeled

Other forms of pottery have been found in Early Cycladic sites. All pottery of early Cycladic civilization was made by hand and was typically black or reddish in color. The most common shapes are cylindrical boxes, known as pyxides and collared jars. The local clay proved difficult for artists to work and the construction was crude, with thick walls and imperfections. Sometimes the pottery feature naturalistic designs reminiscent of the sea-based culture of the Aegean islands.

Other historical antiquities at the Hellenic Museum, Melbourne include:

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                 Cycladic Pyxis
  • Date:                    3200 -2700 BCE
  • Period:                Early Cycladic I
  • Type:                   Early Spedos type, attributed to the Fitzwilliam Master
  • Material:            Clay
  • Museum:            Hellenic Museum, Melbourne

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“Honour is priceless and glad be he who has it.” Greek Proverb

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons