A Taste of the Ancient World: Symposium




KM 70.1.1
c. 500 BC
Bolsena, Italy

 Youth crushing grapes
Detail of KM 70.1.1

'Drink and be merry!' Participants in a Greek drinking party, or symposium, would use this awkward-looking (to us) form of drinking cup. As you drank, a youth would gradually emerge at the cup's bottom, crushing grapes before your very eyes. The kylix was also used in Greek drinking games, such as kottabos, where wine dregs were flung at a target. Much Greek pottery was exported to Italy, since the Etruscans were avid symposium participants.


Nolan Amphora
 KM 77.7.1
c. 475 BC

Attributed to the famous 'Berlin Painter', this amphora shows a young warrior and a woman pouring libations - offering the gods wine by spilling it onto the earth. He holds a phiale; she pours from a oinochoe. Libations were made for many purposes. In this case, either the gods are being asked to protect the young warrior as he goes off to defend his city, or perhaps they are being thanked for his safe return.



KM 4663
Bay of Naples, Italy

This oinochoe, or wine pitcher, shows the spread of Greek drinking practices to the Italian peninsula. It is simply decorated with vertical ribbing on its body and a trefoil-shaped pouring lip. A vessel of similar shape is held by the woman on the Nolan Amphora above. In addition to ceramics, pitchers were often made of valuable metals and glass.



KM 2596
end of the 6th century BC

A wild party is in progress here. Dionysos, god of wine and ecstasy, feasts while his female followers, or maenads, accompany him. Lekythoi were most commonly used as oil flasks or perfume vessels. The narrow neck allowed for careful pouring and slow evaporation of the vessel's contents.






 Bronze wine ladel with handle in the shape of a duck
KM 1496
Pozzuoli, Italy

 Bronze spoon
KM 1497
Pozzuoli, Italy

 Bronze wine ladel
KM 1872
Fayoum, Egypt

These polished and decorated bronze utensils are good evidence for luxurious dining rituals in antiquity. The ladles were used to serve wine at banquets, or for making libations (offerings) of wine to the gods on sacrificial occasions. The delicate spoon, manufactured by soldering separate pieces together, would have been used for stirring, measuring, and eating.

Go on to Fishy Matters.

Exhibit Index

 Feeding Karanis

Exhibit Acknowledgements


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