Black Figure Skyphos

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This highly fragmented vessel was reassembled to reveal extensive decorative features. The cup’s decorative aspects depicts several figures and sphinxes in a mythological or ritualistic scene. This suggests a decorative and utilitarian function. Furthermore, the incised detailing highlight the figural forms for a more realistic depth perception. These decorations also suggest a higher value, and perhaps type of use of this cup in ancient Greek society.



Conservation History

Initial Condition

This cup’s sixty-one sherds had been re-assembled using shellac. The lower portion of the vessel is missing, along with some areas of loss on the body. The sherds also had surface accretions and fading painted decoration from poor storage or initial burial context. In addition, there have been various attempts to reconstruct the vessel, leaving residue, such as wax and masking tape.

Conservation Treatment

All prior restoration efforts left residue was removed chemically using acetone and ethanol, and mechanically. All sherds were cleaned of any dirt, while the edges were prepped for reassembly using Paraloid B72. To prepare the artifact for display, the vessel was completed with inpainted in fillings, ethanol brushed on surface to remove grease.


0. Identification: AA1718

1. Institution: Department of Classics; Art Conservation, Queen’s University  (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

2. Identification references: AA1718

3.1. Category: decorative object; archaeological artifact

3.2. Designation: cup

3.3. Name: Black Figure Skyphos

3.4. Details: Diniacopoulos Collection

4.2. Description of iconography: sphinxes; females; males

4.3. Iconographic analysis: Possible mythical allegory ?

5.1. Material: clay; black slip; red ochre

5.2. Technique: painted; hand thrown

6.1. Unit: cm

6.2. Height: h

6.5. Diameter: di

6.7. Form: recessed base; cylindrical body; concave lip; applied handle appendages

7.1. Manner of discovery:  acquired by Vincent and Olga Diniacopoulos

7.2. Place of discovery: Mediterranean Basin

8.3. Region, style, workshop: Greek

9.1. Inscription or Mark “Type” : N/A

9.2. Position: N/A

9.3. Description of transcription: N/A

10.2. Epoch: first quarter of 5th century BCE

11.1. Acquisition method: donation

11.2. Date of acquisition: 2001

11.3. Previous owner: Diniacopoulos, Olga