Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – Great Greece. The pottery attributed to the Gnathia style is so termed after the site of Gnathia (present-day Egnazia), which is located on the Adriatic coast of Apulia. Gnathia ware was famed for its glossy black slip pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red. The most interesting feature of this fine vessel is the Herakles knot to the handle. The Herakles Knot, although already in use from Egyptian times, was very popular in Ancient Greece and Rome. It was used as a symbol of unity and protectiveness and was often associated with marriage. The knot was thought to ward off evil.
To learn more about Greek pottery, please visit our relevant blog post: Styles and Uses of Greek Pottery.