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Description, Function, Attribution, and Analysis of a Red-Figure Type B Kylix

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The durability of clay has brought forth an immense abundance of Greek pottery, a craft mastered by Athenian artists. Archeologists have found hundreds of varieties in creation, shape, function, style, and artwork in Archaic vases. The museum has been blessed with one of these priceless artifacts; it is the duty of this establishment to accumulate as much data as possible surrounding the vase. In first identifying technique, dimensions, and condition, as well as describing shape, ornament, and figural scenery, one may then begin to analyze the vase. This serves the general purpose of understanding where the artifact stands in Greek culture and history. Through the examination and research of figural scenes, it is then possible to compare these to other scenes and styles of the same and other painters. Finally, one can then hypothesize where, why, and how this piece was used.

The Athenian vase can be identified as a red-figure Type B Kylix. The height of the vase vacillates between 12.1 and 12.3 centimeters, and the diameter of the foot is roughly 12.5 centimeters. Whereas the diameter of the mouth varies between 33.1 and 33.5 centimeters, the diameter with handles is close to 41.5 centimeters. The vase is completely restored, a condition in which pieces on the body of the vase are glued back together.

The bottom of the foot is decorated with subsidiary ornamentation, but the design cannot be distinguished due to the condition of the kylix. A reserved save band runs around the step of the foot. Beneath the artwork is subsidiary ornamentation in the style of circumscribed and horizontal palmettes. A reserved line lies where the lower body meets the stem. The body of the kylix joins into the stem without an abrupt junction, and the foot is convex in profile. Along the exterior, two handles curve upwards along opposite sides of the kylix. Both the upper surface and the inside of the handles are reserved, with the area of the body behind them.

The single figural scene on the front body of the kylix roughly depicts a battle between centaurs and human characters. It also includes animal figures. Starting from the left, there is a bearded and mustached male centaur with long, pointed ears. Above the waist, his head and bare torso are human; below the waist, his buttocks, legs, and hooves resemble the body of a horse. He clenches a spear from behind in his left hand, holding it behind his head. In his right hand his fingers are opened loosely, as only his thumb holds the spear. His four legs stand more relaxed than those of the centaur to his right, who lunges forward towards a human enemy. This centaur differs from the first in that he faces away from the viewer; his bare back is exposed, and in his right hand he grasps the front of the spear. However, his left arm is open, exposing the palm of his left hand. The third centaur is bearded and is shown in profile. Facing the humans to his left, he stands on his hind legs, recoils in defense, and holds his spear behind his head with both hands. His left hand grasps the front of the spear, and his right hand grasps the back of the spear. To his right there is a small insect-like figure, with two sets of wing-pairs protruding from its upper section and legs jutting from its lower section.

Of the human figures, the first is male and faces the two centaurs to the left of the viewer. Also lunging forward, he plants his front foot as the heel of his back foot rises. His hair is shorter than that of the centaurs, and he holds the Boeotian variation of the hoplite shield that covers his mouth and chin. This shield is decorated with the outline of a turtle. The restored condition of the body leaves his clothing, or lack thereof, indistinguishable. It is also hard to discern whether he or the character to his right is holding a sword, which is short and points downward. The next figure, also human, lunges in the opposite direction. He is bearded and mustached, and lion skin is draped around his head and caped down his shoulders and back. Wearing a modeled body corselet over a short chiton, he bends over and clasps the back of one of the centaurs.

From left to right on the other side of the body, a human male stands upright with one foot forward, facing away from the viewer. He has a short beard without a mustache, and he extends his right arm towards his opponent with a rigid hand. His left arm is indistinguishable. He wears a short cloak, called a chlamys, and a brimmed hat, called a petasos. The next figure appears to be the same lion-skinned human male described on the front. Whereas his arms and torso are directed towards the figure on the left, his legs and feet face away. Like his opponent, the character extends a rigid right arm, but in his left hand he holds a large, spiked club. The last human figure stands next to, but completely faces away from, the other males. Though the restored condition of the kylix renders the face indiscernible, the figure is clearly female because she is wearing a finely decorated mantle over a long chiton. She is wearing a common type of helmet, but once again this is barely visible and cannot be accurately identified. The remainder of the body artwork has been damaged in restoration, but it is important to note the sharp-winged, large-tailed bird at the far right, next to the handle.

There is a single reserved line inside the concave rim of the interior. Another single reserved line frames the circular area on the interior, the tondo. The artwork within the tondo appears to depict a standing human figure, but only his or her feet and legs are distinguishable. The restored condition of the vase renders this image unidentifiable.

The kylix generally has many variations along the rim, interior, handles, body, stem, and base (foot). This description has helped map out the objective facts that surround the kylix, data that is integral as one begins to analyze the function, use context, artist, and figural scenes of the antiquity.

The kylix Type B is presently defined as a cup with a comparatively wide, shallow body. The word cup, as applied to Greek pottery, denotes any vessel used for drinking. It is relatively small and lightweight, with small handles and an elegant stem. Theoretically, its size enables easy storage, and patrons could therefore collect these cups in large quantities. Thus, the kylix was most likely used for individual cups for special occasions, particularly at a symposium or any other lavish parties or celebrations.

This kylix is attributed to the Nikosthenes Painter, who produced thirty-three vases in all. Approximately seventy-three percent of his vases were kylikes, with twenty-four cups, one skyphos, one skyphoid, three kantharoi, one pyxis, and three large vases. The Nikosthenes Painter shows a degree of scene consistency in his repertoire: one-third contain scenes of war and warriors, thirty-three

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