Β: Ο νέος αμφορεύς της Σπάρτης. Οι άλλοι μετ’ αναγλύφων αμφορείς του λακωνικού εργαστήριου
Υπηρεσία Αρχαιοτήτων και Αναστηλώσεως
Αρχαιολογικόν Δελτίον, 1964, Τόμος 19, Μελέται/Μέρος Α’, 164-265.
THE NEW RELIEF AMPHORA FROM SPARTA AND THE LACONIAN CERAMIC WORKSHOP After the report of the excavation results and of the related problems a more detailed study has been undertaken of the new clay amphora with relief decoration found among the tombs. At the same time an examination is made of all the similar pots, found at different times and now in the Sparta Museum, both complete examples and those in fragments. The purpose of this is a thorough study of all questions which arise from the new amphora as well as the construction of a more complete picture of the activity of the Laconian pottery workshop. It is evident that the type of these pots is the amphora and that likewise at Sparta this shape is found only for those relief amphorae which were intended solely for funerary purposes. From a study of the form it is proved that there is a connection with Gycladic workshops and especially with amphorae from Thera, but at the same time there is clearly a special local development. In both shape and decoration the relief amphorae of the Laconian workshop permit us to distinguish clearly a connection also with the local bronze workshops and possibly a parallel development. The special characteristics of the amphorae of the Laconian workshop arc the successful combination of the functional necessities with the demands of the composition and the decorative claims and a clear preference for the organic. The special function of the handles and the particular role of the neck are worthy of note. As regards the shape of these amphorae from Sparta there is clearly an effort on the part of the potter to go beyond the merely tectonic creation and likewise the inorganic and floral characteristics to be found in the pots of other workshops, and to limit himself to a more organic composition. The comparison of the shape of all the Laconian relief amphorae preserved permits us to distinguish the basic characteristics and principal tendencies and also to sketch the whole evolution of its progress. The details of the shape are also examined in relation to the decoration in which likewise similar tendencies can be distinguished. In the evolution of the decoration it is in general easy to distinguish, from the oldest known example belonging to the years around 620 B.C., that in the first phase the neck is undecorated, in the second phase it displays only animals and fantastic beings, and in the third phase it receives the principal representation of the amphora — the reference to the life and deeds of the deceased. That is to say, there is a characteristic inversion from the first to the third phase which tends toward the limitation of the floral or decorative themes and toward the substitution for them of pictorial subjects and those more clearly related to the dead and to the tomb on which the vase is placed. Even from the beginning of the 6th century B.C. from the period of this new amphora it is indubitable that the decoration of the amphorae takes on a special character by which each portion of the decoration belongs to a definite category. The representation on the neck zone is a reference to the life of the deceased, that of the chariot race on the shoulder zone concerns the funerary rites, and the insertion of rosettes on the belly zone and the abstract and floral details on the handles are an allusion to the beliefs about death. In this new amphora we have doubtless, among the masterpieces of the Laconian pottery workshop, a masterpiece in the sense that it elucidates and integrates, as regards shape as much as decoration, the purposes of its creators. Having been created at the beginning of the 6th century it belongs to a transitional period in which abstract decoration is disappearing as well as oriental floral motives, and they are succeeded by the complete victory of the anthropomorphic. The technique of the amphora depends obviously on metal work, and the relief is made in moulds and applied to the body of the vase — a fact which explains various peculiarities of its decoration. The opportunity offered by having a group of Laconian amphorae contributes directly to a solution of the problem of the purpose of the relief amphorae from other workshops as well which must be considered as funerary. After general remarks, the problems of the decoration of the new amphora and also questions of composition and morphology are examined, one by one. As regards the composition on the neck zone which is covered by the principal representation of the amphora, there is presented in this new amphora the peculiarity of a combination of a secondary and a central principle. This is considered as a characteristic effort of the Laconian workshop toward a new union in which there is a tempering of the elements of the metope with those of the frieze. The representation on the neck zone as regards subject does not seem to give us a mythological or a heroic scene but the picture of a mortal returning from a successful hunt principally of wild animals — lion, boar, deer, wild goat — and it bears a relation to the deceased on whose grave the amphora was placed. Thus it can be recognized without difficulty that the creators of the amphorae and especially of the new example were no longer interested in abstract decoration or in a mythical composition but in the relation of the scenes to the actual life of the deceased, and this results in giving a new character to the decoration. As the neck zone carries the main part of the decoration, it can thus be compared with the principal panel of the Attic grave reliefs which also give scenes from the life or the occupations of the deceased. The figures on the neck zone show us the deceased as a hunter returning from different hunts, and might be named the amphora of the hunters. The typological analysis of the forms on the neck zone shows without difficulty that the representation is related to works chiefly of the Corinthian workshop and especially with models from which is derived the well known metope from Thermon with the returning hunter bearing in a similar way the animals he has killed. Several special elements show the extent of the connection of the representation on the Spartan amphora with the Corinthian workshop as well as the obvious independence of the artists of the Laconian workshop with respect to their models. At all events in the organization and the whole composition there existed among the Spartans without a doubt considerable plastic skill and the ability to make use of observations of daily life. The study includes a detailed examination of the elements of the neck zone representations, of the dress, and of the equipment of the hunters, even to the characteristics of the animal victims, as well as the details of the use of special motives such as the rosettes on the short chiton of the hunter. There follows the study of the representation on the shoulder zone, that of the scene of the chariot race, in which it is evident that the details given are connected with funerary rites. The typological examination of this scene, as regards both the general content and the completely characteristic motives shows connections not with Corinthian but with Cycladic prototypes. We can even recognize without difficulty from special features which are used in the harness that the basis of the scene derives fom the so-called Melian vases. The looser composition in this scene indicates a greater dependence upon outside prototypes, a fact which is explained by the frequent occurrence of this scene. The potter has no reason, therefore, to develop his personal initiative. In this connection it is noteworthy that in all the preserved grave relief amphorae (of the Laconian workshop), whole or in fragments, on the shoulder zone the same scene of a chariot race is represented which must consequently be considered as showing the funeral purpose of the pot. In the third zone, that of the belly, the decoration is limited to the placing of large rosettes between abstract motives. Likewise in this case it is clear that the prototypes are to be found in the creations of the Cycladic workshop and especially in Melian vases. After the typological examination an attempt is made to interpret the use of rosettes in this position and especially their relation with beliefs in respect to the tomb and the dead. By Cycladic models also the decoration of the handles is influenced, in spite of the fact that a greater freedom is obvious in the work of Spartan artists, as much in the special function of the handles as in their decoration. After the consideration of all the motives separately a general recapitulation of all the problems and a chronological analysis is undertaken. At the same time there is a discussion of the motives of the decoration also of all the Spartan amphorae, their dating and their development. By comparison with other examples of Laconian technique the new amphora is dated toward the end of the 7th century B.C. or the beginning of the 6th (610-590 B.C.), and in accord with this chronology that of the others can be achieved. Thus the other almost complete example coming from the area of the theatre is dated to about 620 B.G., fragments of others with animals on the neck zone to about 610 B.C., while others more developed in form and decoration, like the large fragment from the Heroon, to about 575 B.C., and fragments of others still later to about the middle of the 6th century. In this period that is to say around 550 B.C. it is believed that there was a cessation in the work of the Laconian pottery workshops as regards relief amphorae and a general decline also as regards other ceramic productions in Sparta. These opinions are discussed in relation to the whole development of the state of the Lacedaemonians in this period and permit the clarification of many doubtful points both in art and in the general historical progress of Sparta. But apart from the general subjects upon which new views are possible, the group of these funeral pots, from their special decoration alone, enriches the character of our views concerning Spartan life. Because they carry on the neck zone a clearly individual representation, on the shoulder zone an indubitably typical one, and on the belly motives related to beliefs about death, their study results in giving us an almost complete picture of the beliefs of one epoch.