V.B.3. Matt-painted, bichrome lebes (deep bowl), Athenaion, Timpone della Motta
The lebes is a rare shape among the pottery produced in south Italy. The term refers to a wide and deep bowl with a rounded bottom, unable to stand unsupported but needing a stand or tripod.
Famous tripods are the bronze and silver specimens from richly furnished Orientalizing tumuli in Etruria (7th c. BC).
This lebes from the Timpone della Motta imitates a bronze prototype, but the ring of the handle is attached to the vessel’s wall and cannot be turned upwards in order for the bowl to be carried by it.
The Orientalizing form contrasts with the decoration, which is rather linear and simple for the period. However, comparing this lebes with better preserved specimens leads to the suspicion that the central and presumably most interesting segment of the decoration is missing. This is confirmed by another partially preserved lebes, found at Incoronata near Metaponto (Fig. A) and ascribed on the basis of intriguing parallels to a pottery workshop at Siris-Herakleia. The lebetes produced by the potters there were decorated in black varnish and of a shape comparable to the one from the Timpone, including the same fake ring-shaped handles flanked by large triangular motifs.
But the most interesting decorative elements of the Siris-Herakleia lebetes are the central panels, showing long-legged horses that are sometimes winged. It is this central panel that is missing in the Francavilla lebes. Its bichrome decorative technique suggests that it is older than the lebetes produced at Siris-Herakleia.
The object comes from the Scavi Kleibrink 1991-2004, no. AC18.10.0102, on the Timpone della Motta. It is now in the National Archaeological Museum at Sibari.