A wine cup believed to have belonged to one of the greats of ancient Greece has been found near Athens, according to published reports.
A cup thought to have been used by Classical Greek statesman Pericles was recently found in a pauper’s grave in the northern Athens suburb of Kifissia, the Greek newspaper Ta Nea reported.
The ceramic wine cup, smashed in 12 pieces, was found during building construction. After it was pieced back together, archaeologists were astounded to find the name “Pericles” scratched under one of its handles, alongside the names of five other men, in apparent order of seniority.
Experts are “99 per cent” sure that the cup was used by the Athenian statesman, as one of the other names listed, Ariphron, is that of Pericles’ elder brother.
“The name Ariphron is extremely rare,” Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society, told Ta Nea.
“Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 per cent sure that these are the two brothers,” he said.
The cup was likely used in a “wine symposium” when Pericles was in his twenties, and the six men who drank from it scrawled their names as a memento, Matthaiou said.
Apparently, the youthful Pericles and/or his companions imbibed rather heavily on that particular occasion.
“They were definitely woozy, as whoever wrote Pericles’ name made a mistake and had to correct it,” he said.
The cup was then apparently gifted to another man named Drapetis (“escapee” in Greek) who was possibly a slave servant or the owner of the tavern, said archaeologist Galini Daskalaki.
Pericles (495-429 BC) would go on to become one of the most influential individuals during the Golden Age of Greece.
He was also major proponent of arts and literature, and some hold that it was largely through his efforts that Athens today is reputed to be the educational and cultural center of the Classical Greek world.
Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC amid a Spartan siege of Athens during the Peloponnesian War.
The cup will be displayed in the autumn at the Epigraphical Museum in Athens.
(Top: Wine cup believed to have belonged to Greek statesman Pericles, showing different names of imbibers. Photo credit: Ta Nea.)