• Era/Century: Prehistory
  • Culture: Early Iron Age
  • Site: Karaburma
  • Dating: late 3rd - early 2nd century B.C.
  • Material: terracotta
  • Dimensions: height 42 cm
  • ID Number: AP 2927
  • Property: Belgrade City Museum
  • On Display: No

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The harmonious form and the carefully executed ornamental designs make this vessel of the kantharos type one of the most representative examples of its time. Vessels of this form originated in Greece, where they were used for serving wine during feasts. Wine was brought in large recipients (kantharos heksamilia) and then ladled out with smaller vessels of the same type, out of which it was drunk. The set of vessels for the serving and drinking of wine included a fairly large shallow saucer, which was placed under the large kantharos to collect the spilt liquid.

Metal variants of such vessels appear in the central Balkans as early as the 6th century B.C. Only aristocracy could afford them, which explains why they have been found only in the burial mounds of the great people of that time. Concurrently, the poorer population began to use earthenware forms of these vessels, and they remained in use throughout the late Iron Age. Made on the potter's wheel, virtually unknown in this area before the arrival of the Celts, these vessels, called pseudo-kantharoi, became one of the basic objects of the material culture not only in the territory settled by the Scordisci, but also in the entire region inhabited by the eastern Celtic populations. It is precisely these vessels that are believed to represent a reflection of the palaeo-Balkan ethnic substratum subsumed in the newly-formed communities.

The richly decorated hollow handles and the stamped, typically Celtic ornaments on the belly make this vessel an outstanding, it might be said unique, example of the Celtic potter's art. It combines the common and traditional forms with the new Celtic tendencies, and it reflects the new ideas and new spirit which influenced the development of a new pottery style, peculiar to the material culture of the Scoridsci during the formation of the late Iron Age communities in the central Balkans.

Published in Prehistory


Miloš Spasić
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