TERRA SIGILLATA BOWL: NIOBID FALLING TO HIS KNEES

Date
145/150−180/190 AD
Iconography
Production place
Findspot
ID
Hyp-7116
Year of discovery
2015

The so-called terra sigillata vessels, a finely crafted Roman luxury pottery type with a characteristic red, glossy surface slip, were decorated with various motifs, for example, mythological scenes. This is a copy of a bowl on which two Niobids appear beside seated fauns drinking wine as well as winged Amors. The young boys are depicted naked, falling to their knees; they can be identified as Niobids based on the mantle wrapped around their arms and the position of their right hands holding a knife, held up defensively. According to the ancient Greek myth, Niobe, the Queen of Thebes, incurred the goddess Leto’s anger. In revenge, the children of Leto, Apollo and Artemis, killed all of Niobe’s fourteen children — the Niobids — with their arrows. There are several adaptations of this story in ancient iconography: depictions were preserved on marble statues, wall paintings and sarcophagi, but also on articles of everyday use such as this terra sigillata bowl.