Museum of Classical Archaeology
Mitchell Building, North Terrace, Adelaide.
Access via the Waterfall Doors into the connecting Wills Building.
The Museum of Classical Archaeology,
The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Please use this for group bookings - do not email : (08) 8313 4249 ; fax : (+ 61 8) 8313 4341
Dr Margaret O'Hea (email only for specialised enquiries about museum material)
Open to organised groups upon prior booking (fee of $35 per group applies, including GST), Mon-Fri 9-5pm (public holidays excepted). School groups are especially welcome - study sheets are available upon request. No more than 30 people per group. Please telephone to book your guided visit.
- The S.A. Chapter of the Friends of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens
Highlights of the Museum : Funerary customs in Greece and Rome
(Inv. No 677)
Extant ht 68 w. 32 cms
The Museum's fragment of an Attic marble lekythos, comprising the lower body half of the marble vase and with foot missing, dates to the Late Classical Period (the fourth century BC). Along with the more familiar grave-stones, these were used as grave-markers in cemeteries around classical Athens.
This is one of three lekythoi belonging to the one family group, of which one is now in the Musée du Louvre and the other is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - fine company indeed!
The three lekythoi in the family group show various stages in the family history, and appear to commemorate individuals from three generations from the same family.
In essence, the extant relief on our fragment shows, from left to right, a standing beardless man wearing a short tunic with left arm raised to hold a spear which was painted on, but is now gone. His right hand is holding the outstretched right hand of a woman seated on a chair, facing him. Her hair is drawn into a bun at the nape of the neck, and she wears a chiton and sandals. Inscriptions identify the man as [Ka] lliphanes and the woman as Leionike .
The three lekythoi appear to commemorate individuals from three generations from the same family, and while there are several problems with dating the sequence of this group, ours appears to be the earliest, with the mother, Leonike, being the deceased.
Kalliphanes looks younger than Leionike does in our lekythos, which might suggest that the gravemarker is hers, and her husband is already dead and thus appears as she remembers him. Indeed, Kalliphanes' gravemarker may not be in this group at all.
The later Louvre lekythos may show Kalliphanes' grandfather Aiolos, who perhaps outlived his son and played a larger role in the upbringing of the grandchildren than had the father, and so was honoured where the father was not.
The Metropolitan lekythos shows the dead unmarried daughter of Kalliphanes and Leionike. Both Aiolos and Leionike are attendant as the grandfather can assume to have been present in the upbringing of the deceased where Kalliphanes was not.
In terms of origin, the label says “Attika” and also perhaps a place-name which is unreadable. The Louvre lekythos is perhaps from Roudseri, between Athens and Sounion, and the Metropolitan piece is said to have been found near the Kerameikos within Athens itself. It is not implausible for ours to be from either location.
This lekythos fragment was purchased by the Classics Department in the 1960s. However, it was not until I researched the piece several years ago that its true nature, and place within the family group, could be ascertained with some confidence. It is now one of the most significant pieces in the museum's collection and provides an interesting insight into funerary customs of Late Classical Greece.
Inv. Nos 324 (lid) and 651 (sarcophagus)
Length 175 cms w. 43 cms
The Etruscans of northern Italy practised both inhumation (burial) and cremation from the seventh century B.C. onwards. The use of sarcophagi seems to be related to those cities with the strongest Greek contacts and influences, whilst cremation lasted longest at inland sites, such as Chiusi.
Although some sarcophagi were carved out of local volcanic stones, such as tufa, the marble sources of Italy were not yet properly exploited, and so unlike the Greek islands and mainland, stone scupture in general was slower to develop in Italy. Much Etruscan art was done in painted fired clay (terracotta), and funerary art was no exception.
The series from the southern Etruscan city of Tarquina were not individually hand-sculpted, but first were made with a "matrix" and then modelled by hand so that each is similar but different (Cristofani et al., 1985: 362-363) Nevertheless, certain types - which may be the work of individual hands rather than workshops - can be determined, and these have been dated broadly using associated tomb goods. Our example has no known provenance - that is, it appeared on the art market, plundered from an Etruscan tomb, early in the 20th century - but it fits into the Italian scholar Gentili's "five types", of which ours is type 5, the latest (Gentili, 1994: 106-107, B150, pl.LXX) It can therefore be dated to the last quarter of the second century B.C..
Gentili, M.D. (1994) I sarcofagi etruschi in terracotta di eta recente , Roma, B150, pp.106-107, pl.LXX.
Inv. Nos 647 and 648
Ht 41.9 cms
This hand-made black-polished pottery vessel was used specifically to contain the cremated remains ofa single adult and his or her grave-goods - a bent sword or blade for a male, spindle whorls and jewellery for a female. The biconically-shaped urn was then covered with a lid, and placed in a slab-covered pit in the ground.
The shape of the lid varied whether the deceased was male or female: for a man, the lid could be either a helmet made out of bronze, or a terracotta imitation of a warrior's helmet. For a woman, the lid took the form of a handled bowl, or cup. This biconical urn was purchased with a bowl-shaped lid, and so if the two were originally found together, they would have belonged to a woman's grave. Unrobbed tombs excavated by archaeologists have established the date-range for this type of burial to the period just before the "Etruscan" culture emerges out of Northern Italy. Our urn and bowl are probably 9th century B.C., and the culture to which it belongs- Villanovan - is named after the site where it was first identified.
As with the Etruscan pottery which followed, the designs are incised onto the pottery befre firing, and include a maeander pattern on the neck and on the bowl.