Gnathia was famed for its glossy black slip pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red. A large number of Greek colonies populated Southern Italy from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were essential in bringing the Ancient Greek culture and thought to Italy, deeply influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn.
Blackware Terracotta Gnathia Thistle Mug
A finely modelled black slip terracotta thistle mug, so called after its resemblance to a thistle in shape. The vessel has been potted in Gnathia, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and features a round body, a handle reaching from neck to shoulder and an everted rim. The neck is painted with geometric lines and ovolo motif. Lightly incised grooves on body, finished off in a high black gloss. Base set on a narrow, slightly raised foot. This thistle mug exhibits one of the key traits of Italic pottery painting – polychromy – as is evidenced by the use of white and ochre against the jug’s glossy black finish.