warrior shield and spears


Phoenician Silver Gilt Bowl, Mid-7th Century BC

Decorated in repoussé with outlines and details incised, the central medallion with scene of hero attacking a lion, the lion leaping over a stylized mound towards the hero who wears an animal skin and holds a spear aloft, papyrus thicket in the background with nine large flowers and eight buds, the middle register with animal hunt, two horsemen and three warriors on foot pursue an ibex, stylized plant and two date palms between, a large falcon overlooking the scene, the outer register with a lion hunt, 11 warriors on foot carrying spears and shields and two horsemen, pursue a leaping lion, birds and stylized trees in between, each register divided by a band of punched dots, a band of larger dots around the exterior, rim folded over, remains of gilding.

A prickly, hot-tempered woman who is given to martial pursuits as she considers herself a warrior, wielding a spear, a whip, and a round shield of steel and copper. She is hard, quick, and strong. She is fond of wine and is a confident rider who uses spurs, often to the point where the animal is bloody, and always rides stallions. Obara is a big-boned woman near to thirty, long-legged, with close-set eyes and rat-brown hair.


Proto-Corinthian Aryballos, c. 640 BC

The “MacMillan Aryballos” is a perfume bottle with a lion-head mouth, attributed to the Chigi Painter. The bottle takes its name from a former owner, Malcolm Macmillan, who gave it to The British Museum in 1889. It was manufactured in Corinth but found in Thebes, Greece. Despite its tiny size, the main figure scene on this bottle displays no fewer than seventeen fully-armed warriors. They are locked in combat, thrusting their spears, jostling for position, or falling to the ground. Each warrior is armed with plumed helmet, spear and blazoned shield. Some are realistically streaked with blood. Two further figure scenes below show a horse-race and a hare-hunt. The upper part of the bottle takes the form of a lion’s head, its mouth open to display rows of fearsome teeth and a red tongue.

In the seventh century BC, Corinth took the lead in the development of fine painted pottery. It specialized in the production of small perfume vessels covered with a dense and intricate network of animals and flowers. This style, known as Proto-Corinthian, is characterized by designs in silhouette with added colour and incision. It is the earliest use of the black-figure technique, which was to dominate the production of fine painted pottery throughout the Greek world until the end of the sixth century BC.

A Trusted Weapon’s Retirement

Anthologia Palatina 6.52, attributed to Simonides

 Sit just so, o long ash-wood spear,
Against this tall pillar, and remain
As an offering to Zeus Panomphaeus.
For now your bronze point has grown old,
And you yourself have been worn down,
Brandished again and again
In the midst of destructive war.

 Οὕτω τοι, μελία ταναά, ποτὶ κίονα μακρὸν
  ἧσο, Πανομφαίῳ Ζηνὶ μένουσ’ ἱερά·
ἤδη γὰρ χαλκός τε γέρων αὐτά τε τέτρυσαι
  πυκνὰ κραδαινομένα δαΐῳ ἐν πολέμῳ.

Running warrior with spear and shield.  Detail from the tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, attributed to the Colmar Painter; ca. 510 BCE.  Now in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.