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Derveni krater, copyright ©. Photo : Harry Gouvas http://prevezamuseum.spaces.live.com

The Derveni krater is a volute-krater,[1] the most elaborate of its type,[2] discovered in 1962 in a tomb at Derveni, not far from Thessaloniki; it is conserved at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Weighing 40 kg, it is composed of a special alloy composed of bronze and tin in skillfully chosen amounts, which allows it to display a superb golden sheen without using the slightest bit of gold.

At the time of its discovery, the krater was serving as a funerary urn for an aristocratic Thessalian whose name is engraved on the vase: Astiouneios, son of Anaxagoras, of Larissa. It was previously devoted to producing a mixture of wine, undrinkable by itself, water, and undoubtedly various spices; the drink then being ladled out and distributed to fellow banqueters at ritual or festive celebrations.

It contained 1968.31 g of burnt bones belonging to a man aged 35-50 and a younger woman.

The vase is composed of two leaves of metal which were hammered then joined, although the handles and the volutes (scrolls) were cast and attached. The top part of the krater is decorated with motifs both ornamental (gadroons, palm leaves, acanthus, garlands) and figurative: the top of the neck presents a frieze of animals and most of all, three-dimensional satyrs are casually seated on the shoulders of the vase, in a pose foreshadowing that of the Barberini Faun. On the belly, the frieze in relief, 32.6 cm tall, is devoted to the divinities Ariadne and Dionysus, surrounded by satyr and maenads of the Bacchic thiasos, or ecstatic retinue. There is also a warrior wearing only one sandal, whose identity is disputed: Pentheus, Lycurgus of Thrace or perhaps Jason?

The exact date and place of its facture are unknown. Based on the dialect forms used in the inscription, some commentators think it was fabricated in Thessaly at the time of the revolt of the Aleuadae around 350 BC. Others figure that it was made around 330 to 320 BC by artists in the court of Philip II of Macedon.

Inscription on the krater

Ἀστιούνειος Ἀναξαγοραίοι ἐς Λαρίσας (Thessalian dialect)
Astiouneios Anaxagoraioi es Larisas (Astiouneios son of Anaxagoras from Larisa)[3]
transcribed in Attic Ἀστίων Ἀναξαγόρου ἐκ Λαρίσης Astiôn Anaxagorou ek Larisês.


1. ^ Volute-krater: see Typology of Greek Vase Shapes,
2. ^ John Boardman, "Greek art and architecture" in J. Boardman, Jasper Griffin, Oswyn Murray, Greece and the Hellenistic World (Oxford History of the Classical World, vol. I) 188, illus. p. 301.
3. ^ Lete Derveni — ca. 350-300 BC SEG 24:571

See also

* Krater
* Hellenistic art


* This page draws heavily on fr:Cratère de Derveni article in the French-language Wikipedia, which was accessed in the version of Nov. 12, 2006.
* E. Giouri, Ο κρατήρας του Δερβενίου, Athènes, Goebel, 1978. (Tr. "The krater of Derveni")
* Πέτρος Γ. Θεμελης, Γιάννης Π. Τσουράτσογλου, Οι Τάφοι του Δερβενίου, Ταμείο αρχαιολογικών πόρων, Athens, 1997. ISBN 960-214-103-4. (Tr. Petros G. Themelis and Giannis Tsouratsoglou, "The tombs of Derveni". In Greek with English summaries).
* Bernard Holtzmann and Alain Pasquier, Histoire de l'art antique : l'art grec, Documentation française, coll. « Manuels de l' École du Louvre », Paris, 1998 2-11-003866-7, p. 216-217.
* G. Mihaïlov, « Observations sur le cratère de Dervéni », REA 93 (1991), p. 39-54.
* B. Barr-Sharrar, The Derveni Krater: Masterpiece of Classical Greek Metalwork, Princeton, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2008. ISBN 978-0-87661-962-9.
* J.H. Musgrave, "The cremated remains from Tombs II and III at Nea Mihaniona and Tomb Beta at Derveni", The Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 85 (1990), pp. 301-325.

See also Derveni papyrus

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