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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Faience Collection of the Benaki Museum

The Faience Collection of the Benaki Museum in Athens comprises about 220 items-shreds, tiles, figurines, pendants etc. These objects were brought in Egypt and were donated to the museum by Loukas Benakis mainly between the years 1959 and 1977. Faience, a fine variety of highly colored pottery, appears primarily in Egypt (in the Pre-dynastic period, 4000-3100 B.C.) and is widely used during the Pharaonic, Hellenistic and Roman era until the Arabic invasion (640 ad). The pottery represents the main group of the collection and includes intact and fragmentary vases that have a relief, incised or embossed decoration; two oenochoai shreds from the Ptolemaic period and a fragment showing a satyr’s head in relief also belong to this category. Certain pieces are inscribed with hieroglyphics, while for most of them the color, the rendering of the relief, low and high, as well as the survival of Egyptian motives, such as the lotus flower, rosettes or iconographic subjects, such as the elephant and the Griffith, serve as the main criteria for their dating. The self-proclamation of Ptolemy, the satrap of Persia, as King of Egypt in 305 B.C., signals a new era for the Nilotic country, during which the crucial staff positions of the kingdom are occupied by Greeks and along with the Greek deities, who have been introduced to Egypt since the 7th century B.C., the Egyptian goods are worshipped.