The scene depicts a ritual offering performed by two youths. It is a frequent subject on Apulian pottery, especially for those used in a funerary context. The grapes and the phiale, the libation dish, can refer to the Dionysian symposium or to a more general celebration of life and fertility. Apulia was a region of southern Italy that was famed for its glossy black glazed ware pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red. This type of vessel was used for sacred ceremonial purposes, rather than everyday tasks. Ceremonial pieces were often placed as offerings in tombs, thus their subject corresponds with the iconography of funerary rituals.
A krater was a large vessel, of Greek origin, used in Antiquity to water down wine. This was not done by virtue of frugal hosting techniques, but in fact Greek wine, in its undiluted form, was incredibly strong. It would normally be mixed with water at a ratio of one part wine to five or six parts water – consequently, a large vessel was needed for this purpose. To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.