Silver hydria - Thrace Foundation


The Quest of the Argonauts

Vassil Bojkov Collection

Silver hydria-urn

3rd century BC

Hydria is a shape primarily used for water, and water is closely associated to life, and by antithesis also to death. Hence comes the often secondary use of hydriae as funerary urns. Some exemplars, however, like the one in the Vassil Bojkov collection, were originally created as urns and never had any other use. An urn was by definition the container destined to receive the cremated remains of the deceased. And cremation was in antiquity an expensive procedure associated chiefly with the aristocratic and most wealthy families. The material of the hydria -silver- adds a further lavishly tone on the mourning ceremony, and as if this was still not enough, one more sumptuous detail is shown: a gold necklace is represented pending around the hydria’s neck. We can easily imagine it standing as a token of real necklaces, used in similar occasions to decorate the funerary receptacles of noble dead. We may never know who was the person whose remains were placed in this hydria, but we should have no doubt that he or she was powerful enough -or vainglorious enough?- to advertise his/her magnificence even in afterlife.


European year of cultural heritage 2018