Greek South Italian Oinochoe


A black glazed oinochoe made in Gnathia. The belly of the vessel is round and ribbed, tapering to a narrow neck with a wide-spreading mouth. There features a single handle, and a lion’s head in moulded relief at the point where the base joins the mouth. The oinochoe stands on a short raised foot.

Date: Early 3rd Century BC
Condition: Original handle re-attached; otherwise complete; areas of the painted decoration eroded around the neck and handle; some light encrustations.


An oinochoe is a form of ancient Greek wine jug, which would likely have been used at the symposium (a male drinking party).

Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. The city of Gnathia in southern Apulia, for instance, was famed for its pottery, with production of vases, oinochoe, and other wares beginning around 360 – 370 BC. A polychrome palette would then be used to decorate these ceramics, with the colourful paints being applied directly onto the pot’s black glaze – one of the defining traits of Gnathia-ware pottery. Here, the black gloss background has been painted with the typical palette of yellow and white, forming a pleasing vegetal motif around the neck of the oinochoe.

To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.

Weight 427.00 g
Dimensions H 20 cm



Pottery and Porcelain