Double-Headed Aryballos

Object Details


Double-Headed Aryballos




East Greek (Rhodian)


Rhodes, Greece (Place created)


mid-6th century B.C.




5.6 × 6 × 4 cm (2 3/16 × 2 3/8 × 1 9/16 in.)

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Back-to-back heads of a woman and a snarling lion form the body of this small faience aryballos, or oil vessel. The mouth of the vessel and a small handle emerge from the top of the heads. A glazed material related to glass, faience originated in Egypt as one of the first synthetic materials created by man. Made from quartz sand combined with water and clay, faience was formed in a mold and produced its shiny surface when fired in a kiln. The original bright turquoise blue color of this faience has faded over time, but traces remain in the eyes of the figures and on the woman's earrings. Although the vessel's material has its origins in Egypt, the form of the vase is Greek. Aryballoi served as containers for scented oils and perfumes and frequently took the form of miniature sculptures. In the 500s B.C., faience aryballoi were popular in the Greek settlements along the coast of modern Turkey and their combination of Greek and Egyptian elements demonstrates the cross-cultural connections of the eastern Mediterranean in this period.

by 1958

Hans Erlenmeyer, Swiss, 1900 - 1967


and Marie-Louise Erlenmeyer (Basel, Switzerland), distributed to The Erlenmeyer Stiftung.

- 1990

The Erlenmeyer Stiftung, founded 1981 (Basel, Switzerland) [sold, Cycladic and Classical Antiquities From the Erlenmeyer Collection, Sotheby's, London, July 9, 1990, lot 14, to Robin Symes, Ltd.]

1990 - 1991

Robin Symes, Limited (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991.


Erlenmeyer, Marie-Louise and Hans. "Über griechische und altorientalische Tierkampfgruppen." Antike Kunst 1 (1958), p. 59, pl. 30, 2-4.

Webb, Virginia. Archaic Greek Faience: Miniature Scent Bottles and Related Objects from East Greece, 650-500 B.C. (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1978), pp. 130-31, no. 880.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., Cycladic and Classical Antiquities from the Erlenmeyer Collection. July 9, 1990, lot 14, ill.

"Acquisitions/1991." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 20 (1992), p. 146, no. 26.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 99.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 98.