012 - Fig2

PHRC012 : Oenochoe of King Ptolemy IV, Kourion - Cyprus (221-204 BC) Dedication

This is the only extant specimen of the Ptolemaic oenochoae from Cyprus and the sole which does not depict the traditional ritual scene including a female figure performing a libation, the agyieus pillar, and an altar with akroteria. The particular features of this jug reasonably point to a local rather than Alexandrian production. Wine-pouring vessels with royal dedications were used in Ptolemaic ruler cults and were often included among the grave goods of their users. This was probably the case for this specimen too.

Images:
Photo 1: photo of the vase, from Burr Thompson 1973, fig. 141
Photo 2: detail of the inscription, from Burr Thompson 1973, p. 171


Current location

Cambridge, Corpus Christi College
Inv. No. CCC/LV9

Support

Object Type: Vase
The jug, decorated with a garland and with satyr and silenus masks, is almost complete, but worn, with bits of neck, wreath and lip missing. Within the corpus of wine jugs for the Ptolemaic ruler cult, it is the sole specimen which does not depitc the traditional ritual scene.
Dimensions:
Height: 29.5 cm
Diameter: 15.9 cm

Layout

The inscription occupies the lower part of the neck, around the level of the handle attachment. It must have been carved before the adding of the garland, which is slightly tied off in order to avoid the end of the name
The dedication was written before firing (Burr Thompson 1973, p. 19). The writing shows many cursive features, as commonly happens on Ptolemaic oenochoae and especially on those for Ptolemy IV: round E, open Ω, Μ with a shorter second hasta and lunar Σ. A is written both with straight crossbar and without the bar at all. The second hasta of Π is curved.
Letter height between 1.4 and 0.7

History

Original Place: Kourion
Date: 221-204 BC
Justification: royal tituraly; technical features (Burr Thompson 1973, p. 11, 171)
Provenance: Said to have been found in Kourion, between 1883 and 1885. Auctioned in Paris on 28 April 1886; acquired by S.S. Lewis, a Fellow of the Corpus Christi College, and bequeathed to the institution in 1891 (see T. Mitford in I.Kourion, p. 138-139).

Bibliography

Text constituted from: I.Kourion 75.

Other editions:

See also: Reinach 1886, p. 99; Strack 1897, p. 239, no. 67; Burr Thompson 1973, p. 171, no. 141.

Images: Burr Thompson 1973, fig. 141.

Further bibliography: Caneva 2014a.

Online record: PHI

Edition



βασιλέως Πτολεμαίου
Φιλοπάτορος.


Translation


Of Ptolemy Philopator

Traduzione


Di Tolemeo Philopator

Commentary

This is the only extant specimen of the Ptolemaic oenochoae from Cyprus and the sole which does not depict the traditional ritual scene including a female figure performing a libation, the agyieus pillar, and an altar with akroteria. On Alexandrian oenochoae, all these features were moulded separately and then attached to the vase before its colouring and firing (Burr Thompson 1973, p. 25). The absence of the libation-pouring female, interpreted as the deified queen, was tentatively explained by Mitford (in I.Kourion, p. 139) Burr Thompson 1973, p. 48, 171 by assuming that the Kourion specimen was produced before the marriage between Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III in 217 BC. However, this hypothesis does not take into account that the whole ritual setting, not only the female figure, is absent from this specimen. The hypothesis that the jug was unfinished must be rejected too, since the decorations were made before firing. Keeping in mind Thompson’s hypothesis that the Kourion jug is a provincial production adapting Alexandrian models to a Cypriot context, it seems more that this different background explains the uniqueness of this vase.

During his excavations at Kourion between 1883 and 1885, M. Ohnefalsch-Richter discovered various tombs of the Hellenistic and Roman period as well as the workshop of a glassmaker. Many items were sold by auction in Paris in 1886 (Reinach 1886, p. 99). We ignore whether our oenochoe was among the objects found in the workshop, or if it was part of the funerary goods of a tomb. The latter option seems more probable, since graves are a common archaeological context for the discovery of Ptolemaic wine-pouring vases. These vases, used for libations in the Ptolemaic ruler cult, were important enough to their owners to be often included as grave goods (Caneva 2014a, p. 108).

Author:
Stefano Caneva, 03.11.2018
Revisions:
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Travocial - Social Travel & Storytelling Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults
Marie Curie PISCOPIA project no. PISC14IGRU, University of Padova (2015-2017)
FNRS project no. 98368 (2017-2020)
Stefano Caneva
ste.caneva@gmail.com
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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, under Grant Agreement n° 600376 (2015-2017), and from the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium (2017-2020).
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