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Large handle-less kantharos, Etruria (Italy), 600-550 BCE

A kantharos is a cup used for drinking wine and water. It normally has handles, unlike this one. The cup is decorated with winged male heads which are usually associated with the Greek god Hermes. Hermes was the messenger of the gods, led the dead to the underworld and was worshiped as a god of fertility. This chalice is from Etruria, an ancient state of Italy, now part of Umbria and Tuscany. The colour and design is typical of Etruscan pottery and would have been polished to give a high shine.

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Glossary: fertility

The natural capacity to give birth.

Glossary: kantharos

A variation of ancient Greek pottery used for drinking. A Kantharos has handles that reach higher than the side of the pot.