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Black-Figure Neck Amphora with Two Horsemen
560–540 BC
Terra cotta

14 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase funded by James R. Crane, James C. Flores, Robin Gibbs, Lee Godfrey, and Gary Petersen at "One Great Night in November" in honor of our armed forces serving abroad


Ancient Greek amphoras were general-purpose containers for holding liquids. In a funerary context, they could also hold the ashes of the deceased. The Latin amphora derives from Greek words referring to the two characteristic handles of these vessels.

This elaborate amphora is remarkable for its large size, intact condition, and excellent painting. It was created as a burial offering and is similar to the work of Lydos, an ancient Athenian vase painter. The design depicts a nude, athletic youth riding bareback on a grand, muscular black horse. The animal's front hooves are raised to indicate the speed of a gallop. The scene attests to the important role of the horse as an ultimate status symbol in the Greek world.