Ancient Greek Terracotta Lekythos


An ancient Greek, red terracotta bottle in a lekythos shape. The vessel has a tall body which dips in before extending out at its base, to sit on a short foot. The body tapers into an elegant neck with a very wide mouth and everted rim. The vessel has one handle which joins the neck of the bottle to the shoulder, deeply looped. The bottle has been wheel-spun, as evidenced from its horizontal striations around its body. There are also remnants of black pigment, suggesting the vessel was glazed.

Date: Circa 6th - 4th century BC
Provenance: Ex K. Furness collection, acquired by descent from her mother. Circa 1950s onwards.
Condition: Very good condition with some very minor chips and surface abrasion or encrustation.


SKU: RF-026 Category: Tag:

Lekythoi were used in Ancient Greece to preserve and pour perfumed oil and ointments: its particular shape limited the release of the content and was suitable to prevent waste. Lekythoi were mainly used at baths and gymnasiums and for funerary offerings, as they were sometimes used for anointing dead bodies. Whilst they could hold a range of perfumed oils and ointments, they were usually used to hold olive oil. They are characterised by their narrow bodies with thin necks, a single handle, and a flat rim without a pouring lip. This example, as with the majority, was painted, as evidenced by the bands of paint faintly visible around the body of the vessel. Decoration ranged from detailed white-ground lekythoi with figural scenes or simple geometric patterns. They are one of the most abundantly found shapes and show us a glimpse of daily life in ancient Greek society; the humble pottery vessel used by a multitude of women for daily and ritual tasks.

To discover more about ancient Greek vases and their uses, please see our blog post: Collecting Guide: Types of Ancient Greek Vase

Weight 164.0 g
Dimensions W 5.4 x H 15.0 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For similar: The British Museum, London, item 1856,1226.285

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