The Derveni krater
330—320 BCE.
Inv. No. B1.Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum

The Derveni krater.

330—320 BCE.
Inv. No. B1.

Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum.

Discovered in 1962 in a Tomb 2 at Derveni, near Thessaloniki.

The Derveni krater

A find unique of its kind, and a product of sophisticated metalworking of the 4th c BC, this vessel was used as a depository urn for the deceased’s ashes in Derveni Grave 2. Its original function was that of a vessel in which to mix wine and water.

Its elaborate decoration constitutes a hymn to the god Dionysus, to his omnipotence over nature and to his power in both life and death. On the vase’s obverse (main side) is depicted the sacred wedding of the god and Ariadne. The couple is seated on a rock, and the naked Dionysus has placed his leg familiarly on his wife’s thigh. Ariadne, holding her veil aloft, gazes at her husband in a characteristically bridal gesture. A panther, the animal sacred to the god, stands behind Dionysus. Surrounding the couple are the god’s followers, maenads, some carried away by their orgiastic dance, while others sit atop the shoulder of the crater. Mythical figures, tame and wild animals, vine- and ivy-branches, adorn all the vessel’s surfaces.

The gold color of the vase is owed to its particular composition: bronze and a large quantity of tin, but without a trace of gold. It was hammered out from two large sheets, joined at the point where the animals decorating the neck are placed. The statuettes on the crater’s shoulder, volute handles, and base were all cast.

On the lip of the vase an inscription in silver letters gives us the name of its owner: Astion, son of Anaxagoras, of Larissa. It is not known whether the deceased was himself the vase’s owner.
This is the only intact bronze vessel with relief decoration preserved from the period. Its creator may have been a sculptor and metalworker from one of the Ionian cities of the Chalkidiki who had served his apprenticeship in Athens.

330-320 BC

D. Ignatiadou

See also:

© 1995. Photo, text: Sofia Suli. Grecheskaya mifologiya. Athens, Mihalis Tubis A. E., 1995, s. 51.
© 2011. Description: museum label.
Keywords: ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque ἀριάδνη αριάδνη ariadna ariadne arianna ariane γρύφων γρύπων gryphon grypon gryphus griffin griffon grifone grifoni greif greife grype διώνυσος dionysus dioniso dionysos μαινάδα μαινάδες mainades maenas maenades maenad maenads menade menadi mänade mänaden ménade ménades ρωμαϊκή romana roman römische romaine βάκχος bacchus bacco βασσαρίδες ποτνιάδες βάκχη bacchae bassarids bacchantes baccanti bakchantin bakchant γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur greco greche griechisches grecquesё ανακούφιση relief rilievo toreutics toreutica cesellatura toreutik treibarbeit toreutique ελληνικό bronze bronzo ορείχαλκος veiled with covered head capite velato caput velatum panther pantera panthère panthera πάνθηρα bunch of grapes grappolo d’uva weintraube wein traube grappe de raisin uva botrys botrus τσαμπί σταφύλια ivy leaves foglie di edera efeu efeublätter feuilles lierre hedera κισσός φύλλα κισσού baccanale bacchanalien bacchanales bacchanalia dance dancing danza che balla danzante danzanti tanz tanzender tanzende danse dansant dansante dansent ecstasy estasi verzückung in ekstase extase predator rapace raubtier carnassier volute voluta branch ramo ast zweig branche rameau gesture erotic repose gesto riposo erotico geste der erotischen ruhe erotische repos érotique the derveni crater krater sacred wedding and astiouneios son anaxagoras from larisa larissa ἀστιούνειος ἀναξαγοραίοι ἐς λαρίσας αστιουνειοσ αναξαγοραιοι εσ λαρισασ inv no b1