Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites

Mycenaean Krater

Mycenaean Krater - Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens - Joy of Museums

Mycenaean Krater

This Mycenaean Krater is a ceramic vase used for watering down wine dated to the 13th-century BCE. It is an example of Late Helladic ceremonial ware used as a mixing bowl for the dilution of wine with water, a custom which the ancient Greeks believed to be a sign of civilised behaviour. This Mycenaean Krater is decorated with representational floral motifs.

Wine Dilution

Drinking undiluted wine was considered inappropriate in ancient Greece, and drinkers of undiluted wine characterise the drinker as a drunkard and someone who lacked restraint and character. Ancient writers prescribed that a mixing ratio of 1:3 wine to water was ideal for a long conversation. A ratio of 1:2 was used for entertaining celebrations. A ratio of 1:1 was only suited for occasions of uninhibited behaviour and to be rarely indulged. This practice of the ancient Greeks indicates that ancient wines were produced to a high alcoholic degree by using dehydrated grapes. Such wines would have been able to withstand the effects of ageing and the vagaries of transportation better than modern wines which have a lower alcoholic percentage.

Mycenaean Greece

Mycenaean Greece was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Greece, spanning the period from about 1600–1100 BC. It represented the first advanced civilisation in mainland Greece, with its palatial states. Mycenaean Greece perished with the collapse of Bronze Age culture in the eastern Mediterranean, to be followed by the Greek Dark Ages, a transitional period leading to Archaic Greece. The Mycenaean period became the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and mythology, including the Trojan Epic Cycle.

Explore

Reflections

  • Was Wine Dilution a matter of taste or about alcohol moderation?
  • Three centuries-old ceramic ware for wine, have the basics in life change that much in 33,000 years?
  • What is your prefered wine ratio? 1:3 for long conversations or 1:2 for celebrations or 1:1 for uninhibited indulgence?
  • How accurate were Mycenaean Greeks in their Wine Dilution? And did the ratio change during the celebration?

Mycenaean Krater

  • Title:            Mycenaean Krater
  • Date:          13th century BC
  • Culture:      Mycenaean
  • Period:       Late Helladic II B period
  • Geography:  Greece
  • Museum:      Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens

~~~

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

~~~


 

Photo Credit: 1) JOM