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Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider

Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider - Benaki Museum, Athens

Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider

These Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider made from terracotta with painted decoration were typical grave offerings. Horses were a sign of wealth for the ancient Greeks, and the terracotta horses symbolized or reinforced the status of the deceased. These offerings may have represented the status of the dead or their family’s hopes for their afterlife.

Thousands of clay horse figurines like these survive from the Archaic period. Clay was a standard and easily worked material, and these figurines varied from highly finished to very crude. Terracotta figurines were produced throughout Greece, but horses were a favorite subject for Boeotian.

Boeotia

Boeotia was a region of ancient Greece, since before the 6th century BC. One of the regional units of Central Greece, Boeotia, lies to the north of the eastern part of the Gulf of Corinth. The early wealth and power of Boeotia are demonstrated by the reputation and Mycenean remains of several of its cities, especially Thebes.

Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider

  • Title:              Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider
  • Date:             ca. 600–650 B.C.
  • Culture:         Boeotian
  • Geography:   Greece
  • Medium:       Terracotta
  • Dimensions:  10 – 12 cm
  • Museum:       Benaki Museum, Athens

Reflections

  • What do these figurines tell us about Ancient Greece?
  • Horse Figurines were typical grave offerings. What are grave offerings common today?

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Horses

  • Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years.
  • Horse hooves are made from the same protein that makes up human hair and fingernails.
  • Horses drink at least 25 gallons of water a day.
  • Horses have the most prominent eyes among mammal that lives on land.
  • Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
  • Because horse’s eyes are on the side of their head, they are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees.
  • Domestic horses have a lifespan of around 25 years.
  • Horses gallop at around 44 kph (27 mph).
  • Newly born horses can run shortly after birth.
  • Horses use their ears, eyes, and nostrils to express their mood and through facial expressions.
  • Horses are social animals and will get lonely if kept alone.
  • Horses will mourn the passing of a companion.

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“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
– Greek Proverb

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM