Attributed to the Kuban Group
Panathenaic Amphora, 410–400 B.C., Pottery
Height: 67.5 cm; Diameter: 38 cm
The British Museum, London, United Kingdom
On this object, we have two sides – as with our Athenian coin, labelled obverse (for the "front") and reverse (the "back"). On the obverse, depicted here below the reverse, we have the goddess Athena herself, striding across the face of the vase: this was a typical subject for Panathenaic amphorae (unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the context of the festival). She brandishes a spear, carries a shield in one hand, and wears a helmet, signifying her status as goddess of war. Inscribed vertically along one of the two columns either side of her (each surmounted by a cockerel), we can read TON ATHENETHEN ATHLON (or, "From the games at Athens"), marking the occasion. On the other side, the reverse (at the top of this post), we see a quadriga, a four-horse chariot, with a charioteer holding the reins in one hand; the front leg of the first horse is just crossing past a marker, called a stele in ancient Greek, which signifies the end of the racecourse. It was typical on Panathenaic amphorae to depict the race for which the prize was won: other amphorae show, for example, runners competing in races, boxers, and wrestlers.