Agora Object: P 14431
Inventory Number:   P 14431
Section Number:   Χ 988
Title:   Bowl with Lead Seal Attached
ΤΙΤΛΟΣ:   Δοχείο - μέτρο νωπών και ξηρών καρπών με μολύβδινο σφράγισμα καθιστού Διόνυσου 100 π.Χ. περίπου
Category:   Pottery
Description:   Several pieces, including chunks from sides and rim, missing. Flat bottom; straight sides; flat-topped projecting rim.
Orange-buff clay. Light slip. Surface much worn.
On side wall, just below rim, a lead seal rivetted through the clay.
Seal: A seated figure facing right; a high back to throne and apparently a cushion on the seat; the figure holds a scepter(?) in left hand; right hand resting on knee, holding kantharos(?). Further right at edge of seal, a vertical line. This is certainly the "Dionysos by Alkamenes" type; it is not however a duplicate of either of the coins. Cf. Athenian Imperial coin type, Svoronos (1923), pl. 92, nos. 8-21, Dionysos by Alkamenes; seated right, thyrsos in one hand, kantharos in other, altar in front of him.
See also same figure seated left. On Introd. p.L. Athens New Style coin Head (1888), BMC Attica, pl. 12:8, dated ca. 90 B.C. Also Richter (1929), Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, p. 236, fig. 631. Brumbaugh (1966), Ancient Greek Gadgets, pl. 86, ill. Agora X, pl. 18, no. DM 66.
ADDENDA Text on an A4 attached to the card; "M.C.'s description of this pot, with refs.":
Among the great variety of late Hellenistic vases mended during the winter from the contents of a cistern found on the North Slope of the Areopagus (cistern at 75/ΟΑ) is one piece of peculiar interest. This is an unglazed pot with a lead seal rivetted to its wall [P 14431 (Χ 988) and IL 701]. It is a simple flat-bottomed deep straight-sided bowl, with projecting flat-topped rim (H. 0.105; Diam. 0.20). The fabric is rather coarse, orange-buff in color at the core, slightly lighter on the surface.
Below the rim, a piece of lead is set through the wall, with a seal impression on the outside surface. The seal shows a bearded figure seated right on a high backed chair; he holds a thyrsos in his left hand and a kantharos(?), which rests on his knee, in his right hand. The seal is certainly a copy of the statue which appears on Athenian New Style and Imperial coins and which has been identified as the Dionysos by Alkamenes. Our seal is not an exact duplicate of either of the coin types known (cf. BMC Attica, pl. 12:8. Richter, fig. 631).
The pottery with which this pot was found is a consistent group dating from the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st c. B.C.; the cistern was perhaps abandoned and filled after the sack of Sulla (86 B.C.). The New Style coins on which the type appears are dated by Sundwall about 40 B.C., and so postdate the seal by some years (Head (1911), Hist. Num., 2nd ed., p. 382).
I have found no exact parallel for the shape, and none for a lead seal affixed to a pot. If the seal be anything more than an idle whim of the potter or owner, one is tempted to seek a connection with the Anthesteria, the festival in which pots played such a conspicuous part, giving the names to each of the three days of the celebration, pithoigia, choes, and chytrai. Chytrai are cooking pots and were used as such in the festival, and our pot is definitely not of cooking pot fabric, nor would a lead seal remain on one. On a red-figure chous illustrated by Deubner (Deubner (1932), Attische Feste, pp. 104-105, pl. 11:4) as a representation of the Anthesteria the figure of Dionysos, whether it be a statue or a man playing the part, is based obviously on the cult statue by Alkamenes. Possibly with further study direct connections between the pot with the seal of Dionysos and the Anthesteria may be found.
ΠΕΡΙΓΡΑΦΗ:   Δοχείο - επίσημο μέτρο νωπών και ξηρών καρπών. Λείπουν θραύσματα, από το σώμα και το χείλος του αγγείου. Φέρει ανθρωπόμορφη παράσταση.
Context:   Cistern, middle fill.
Negatives:   Leica, XXXIV-20, XXXIV-21, XXXIX-50, HAT 49-211, color slide
PD Number:   PD 1132-3
Dimensions:   H. 0.105; Diam. 0.20
Date:   9-12 February 1937
Section:   Χ
Grid:   Χ:75/ΟΑ
Elevation:   -2.00 to ca. -2.65m.
Masl:   -2.65--2m.
Deposit:   M 20:1.2
Period:   Greek
Bibliography:   Museum Guide (2014), pp. 147, 165, fig. 86.
    Camp and Mauzy (2009), p. 23, fig. 17.
    AgoraPicBk 4 (2004), p. 31, fig. 39.
    Guide (1990), p. 243, fig. 147.
    Camp (1986), p. 127.
    Travlos (1971), fig. 750.
    Guide (1962), pp. 166-167.
    AgoraPicBk 4 (1960), fig. 18.
    Hesperia 18 (1949), pl. 5, no. 1-2-3a.
Published Type:   Svoronos (1923), pl. 92, nos. 8-21
    Head (1888), BMC Attica, pl. 12:8
    Richter (1929), p. 236, fig. 631.
    Brumbaugh (1966), pl. 86, ill.
    Agora X, pl. 18, no. DM 66.
    Deubner (1932), pp. 104-105, pl. 11:4.
    Head (1911), p. 382.
References:   Publications (4)
Publication Page: Agora 14, s. 16, p. xv
Publication Page: Agora 14, s. 261, p. 236
Publication Page: Agora 14, s. 316
Drawing: PD 1132-3 (DA 6665)
Drawing: PD 1132-3 (DA 6668)
Images (18)
Deposit: M 20:1
Deposit: M 20:1.2
Notebook: ΟΟ-11
Notebook: Χ-1
Notebook: Χ-6
Notebook Pages (4)
Cards and Envelopes (6)