Thursday, 5 January 2023

Vapheio Gold Cups

Vapheio is an ancient site in Laconia, Greece, on the right bank of the Eurotas, some five miles south of Sparta. It is famous for its tholos or "beehive" tomb, excavated in 1889 by Christos Tsountas. The pottery in the tomb dates to around 1500 to 1450 BC, but the gold and carved gem seals might have been old when buried. Grave goods include a large number of carved gem seals and amethyst beads, together with articles in gold, silver, bronze, iron, lead, amber and crystal. Many of the seals and rings found in the tholos have strong affinities in style and subject matter with Minoan seals.
The finest of the grave goods are a pair of golden cups decorated with scenes in relief, showing two different methods of capturing bulls. On the first cup, a scene depicting the peaceful capture of a bull wraps around the entire object. A man is shown tying a rope around the animal’s leg as it is in the process of mating with a cow, as three other bulls graze in the background.
Some believe that the first cup is Minoan, while the other is Mycenaean.
The second cup shows a less peaceful scene, as a bull is depicted captured in a net as another attacks two hunters. A third man is shown fleeing.