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L’enfant et la mort dans l’Antiquité III. Le matériel associé aux tombes d’enfants

 | 
Antoine Hermary
, 
Céline Dubois

Grèce, Italie du Sud, Sicile

Grave Gifts in Child Burials in the Athenian Kerameikos: The Evidence of Sea Shells

Jutta Stroszeck

Texte intégral

  • 1 In a contribution to Classical child burials in the Kerameikos, S. Houby-Nielsen connects sea shel (...)

1Funerary practices and burial customs are based on the religious ideas of specific social group sand constitute elements of local tradition. They are subject to change over time, generally as a reflexion of corresponding social changes. Grave goods are to be seen within this framework as keyed to gender, age and social status of the deceased, but further factors may come into play. For instance, the availability of certain objects can be related to economic or regional conditions. If one follows a specific phenomenon over an extensive time span and in various regions of the ancient world, it becomes necessary to keep an eye on the possible structural, social and chronological developments, as these may lead to consequences for the interpretation of the phenomenon. Against this background, the deposition of sea shells in child burials will be examined here.1 Departing point for the analysis are the graves of children in the Kerameikos cemetery, but the practice itself was widely prevalent and may be followed over a long period. The present study begins with when, where and in what context sea shells appear, followed by the analysis of the sea shell species, and considerations regarding the use of sea shells in the Greek world during Antiquity.

  • 2 Kerameikos 7.1, p. 5-9 and passim, as well as beil. 3.
  • 3 Kerameikos 9, p. 13, plan 1.3 and passim.
  • 4 The establishment of the ambassador graves, using public funds, at the foot of the South Tumulus s (...)

2Some 2000 graves from the Kerameikos cemetery have been published to date, 827 of which can be identified as child burials. The high number of child graves here is the result of full excavation and publication of two substantial areas, in which cemeteries for children were situated in the Late Archaic and Classical periods: first, Tumulus G to the south of the Eridanos2 and second, the so-called South Tumulus to the south of the Street of the Tombs3. In the classical period, both tumuli constituted optical markers for the transitional zone between polis and nekropolis and vice versa. Both children’s cemeteries were placed in this ‘liminal zone’ (Stroszeck 2010, esp. p. 57). Part of the children’s cemetery covering the South Tumulus and continuing to the west towards the burial plots of the Messenians and the burial plot of Demetria and Pamphile were later covered over by the South Road (Brueckner 1909, p. 30-34; Eilmann 1932, esp. p. 197).This could mean that the area may already have been the property of the polis, that is, the children’s cemetery was situated in an area of shared citizen use4.

  • 5 On the interpretation of pots used for child burials as uterus: Michalaki-Kollia 2010, p. 164.
  • 6 To date, no other use, for example in a settlement context, is documented. Kerameikos 7.1, p. 179 (...)
  • 7 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 68 with clay; no. 526, 487, 165, 32 with a sherd; no. 76 with a bowl she (...)
  • 8 The amphora fragment Kerameikos 7.1, no. 198 was covered with a clay tub fragment and a 10 cm thic (...)

3In the rarest of cases the children are laid directly in the earth or cremated; they are almost always buried in a recipient. As a rule, this recipient is understood as a protection for the corpse, deposited first in the earth, and into which the child was then placed. It cannot be excluded, though, that the corpse was transported to the burial ground in the recipient. The choice of an amphora or a closed vase as funerary vessel for neonates has5, no doubt rightly, been associated with the conception of the uterus as a protecting recipient. Therefore, the choice of a container for the burial was connected to a meaning, even if it was a commonly available shape, which in secondary or after multiple uses finally ended up as a child coffin. Of the child burials in the Kerameikos, 328, that is, more than a third, are amphora burials, while the remaining employ other containers (chytra, hydria, pithos, or water pipe) and, in particular, clay tubs, probably produced exclusively for this purpose6. For the reception of the burial, an opening was created in the belly of an amphora, through which the corpse –with any gifts– was introduced, whereupon the hole was closed with the fragment cut or hewn out previously, or with a stone. In addition, in the course of the burial, the amphora mouth was usually blocked with a stone, with mud bricks, or with a pottery sherd7. The inside of the amphora can be painted red or black for the purpose of the burial (Kerameikos 7.1, no.216). In most cases, the amphorae are deposited in a pit without further protection, either lying on the side or in upright position, but there are exceptions8.

  • 9 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 567, 468, 441, 417, 245, 241, 240, 216, 207, 164, 117, 116, 79, 68, 52, (...)

4The orientation of the child in the amphora coffin seems to follow predetermined rules, for example the geographic direction, or the line of vision of the deceased appears to have played a role: the head of the child is mostly positioned at the mouth of the amphora9 and to the east, looking to the west, seldom at the bottom/foot of the amphora (Kerameikos 7.1, no. 119, 209, 566, 77, 44, 30). Karl Kübler assumed that the reason for the differing positioning of the skeletons with the head at the foot end, occurring sometimes, may be due to the east-west orientation of the amphora (Kerameikos 7.1, p. 190). The head would then have been placed at the foot end so that it was orientated again to the east, looking west. In the case of north-south oriented graves along the Sacred Road, the head is placed to the south, looking towards the Sacred Street, and when in these cases the foot of the amphora was placed at the south end, the head of the child was placed in the foot.

5The choice of a specific shape of burial recipient obviously didn’t take place merely by chance, rather it was undertaken with regard to the size and thus the age of the child to be buried. It is clear that neonates and young babies were predominantly interred in amphorae and other vessels, whereas for older babies and younger children clay tubs were employed.

  • 10 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 187; no. 181 small bowl; no. 112 two small bowls; in the case of no. 76 (...)

6Children are often buried without gifts, their graves contain, if anything, perishable organic goods, which have not been preserved (e.g. Kerameikos 7.1, no. 574, 607, 607a, 611). The gifts are generally found within the recipient next to the skeleton, but it does occur that they were placed in the pit itself10. These instances seem to reflect two different types of dedications.

  • 11 Rutherfurd Roberts 1978, p. 2, 4f. and 177-187 (on the pyxis in the female sphere as a container f (...)
  • 12 Occasionally also termed ʻlidded bowlʼ cf. Breitfeld-von Eickstedt 1997 and the announced disserta (...)
  • 13 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70: ‘The pyxis, which is usually considered to indicate a woman’s grave, ha (...)

7It is conspicuous that in the child burials of the late 6th and the entire 5th century B.C., and mainly in enchytrismoi, a particular combination of vessels is re-occurring several times: so-called lidded bowls, that is, pyxides11 or lekanides,12 covered with a lid, are accompanied by small juglets (olpai) and small-sized skyphoi, sometimes also small plates. The lidded bowls constitute –together with miniature drinking cups (kotylai) and small juglets (olpai), more rarely with other shapes– a type of standard equipment for child graves, to which lekythoi or other vases may be added. Whereas the juglets and the drinking cups have an obvious use as recipients for libations, the use of the lidded bowls, almost always of ‘normal’ size and showing signs of wear, is not as readily understood.13 A connection with the pyxides used in the Athenian wedding ritual appears likely.

Child graves with sea shells in the Kerameikos

8Over the entire time span covered by the burials in the Kerameikos cemetery, sea shells appear as gifts in 32 graves, 17 of which belong to children. Since the Hellenistic and Roman cemeteries remain hitherto unpublished, this total will very probably rise. Nevertheless, on the whole, the number of burials containing sea shells remains comparatively small.

9The oldest child burial from the Kerameikos that contains a sea shell is a cremation of the late 10th c. B.C. (Cat. 1). It is interpreted as child burial because the grave gifts comprise a set of miniature vessels (Kerameikos 5, p. 24, 212f., no. 3, pl. 14). In the excavation report, the sea shell is mentioned, but neither described nor illustrated. Among the graves of this period, this appears to be the only case of a sea shell in the Kerameikos. The hitherto latest child burial containing a sea shell is the inhumation of a 3-6 year old child that can be dated to the Augustan period (Cat. 17).

  • 14 Graepler 1997, p. 53 n. 118: Table with sizes for children 1-14 years of age. 1 year: 80 cm; 6 yea (...)

10Exception made of the oldest and the latest examples, all other child burials with sea shells are inhumations of very small infants, buried in the late 6th and during the 5th c. B.C. The infants in these cases were very young. This is indicated by the small size of the containers used in their burial. For example, the Cat. 12 amphora has a total height of 52 cm, while the available space in the belly, into which the child was introduced, amounts to no more than 40 cm. The table of child growth rates, quoted by Daniel Gräpler in a study of child burials at Taranto, indicates that an average one-year old already attains a height of 80 cm14. The babies in Cat. 2-16 are predominantly interred in amphorae; the few other cases comprise a hydria burial (Cat. 2),as well as two burials in “clay tubs”, so-called larnakes (Cat. 11, 13). The distribution in the area of the children’s cemeteries in the Kerameikos is relatively uniform: five graves are located in the sector of Tumulus G (Cat. 2, 3, 5, 6, 13), six to the south of the Sacred Road (Cat. 8, 9, 10,11, 14, 15, 16), and three in the cemetery on the west slope of the South Tumulus (Cat. 4, 7, 12).

11Among the child burials in the Kerameikos containing the above-mentioned standard pottery set, a small group stands out through the additional deposition of the sea shell (Cat. 2 to Cat. 16). The funerary set consists here of the lidded bowl (lekanis or pyxis), a skyphos and/or a small olpe.

12The sea shell is always of a bivalve type, of which one shell only is placed in one of the vessels, that is, in child burials the sea shell is always placed carefully inside a protecting vessel. Sometimes the sea shell is placed together with further gifts in a larger vessel: in Cat. 3 with a kotyle (fig. 1), in Cat. 5 with a miniature skyphos (fig. 3), in Cat. 9 with a juglet (fig. 7). In Cat. 7, the sea shell has been found inside a small bowl, placed within a lidded bowl (fig. 5). In Cat. 16 the sea shell, placed in a pyxis, was covered by a small plate.

  • 15 E.g. Korinthos, North Cemetery: child burial in sarcophagus Blegen et al. 1964, p. 225, no. (...)

13The reoccurring combination of a dish containing a sea shell obviously reflects an established ritual. Further gifts could be added, for example astragals (Cat. 3),15 an exaleiptron (Cat. 5), or, as in Cat. 12, a make-up tablet (fig. 10, 13.4). The complete ‘gift set’ is most often placed in the funerary container itself, in some cases by the head of the corpse. Only in the case of Cat. 14, the shell was found together with a second set of grave gifts outside the tub, and not among the gifts within.

14The vessels, in which the sea shells are deposited, are not miniatures but the common utilitarian sizes. Besides, they often exhibit traces of use. The lekanis in Cat. 15, for example, has scratches in the bottom, on the inside of the lid, and on the underside. The slip in these places is worn off down to the clay. It is notable that these wear patches are found on one side only of the vessel.

15The grave contexts described above reflect a firmly established dedication ritual performed at the interment of infants, in which the sea shells had their definite place. The sea shells are, moreover, always found in graves containing further gifts, often several, and in some cases more than ten.

  • 16 Immerwahr 1971, p. 138f. A feeding bottle was found in a Late Mycenaean child burial in the Agora (...)

16It is also notable what does not appear in association with sea shells: most obvious is that none of the amphora burials with sea shells among the gifts in the Kerameikos has produced a feeding bottle. Feeding bottles are attested in Athens since the Mycenaean period16,and in the child burials in the Kerameikos they constitute a quite common gift. It has already been noted that feeding bottles are repeatedly found in graves of taller, i.e. older, children. Could then the sea shells in infant contexts fulfill the function of the feeding bottle used for older children?

17Sea shells in Athenian child burials are, of course, not restricted to the Kerameikos site. The child burial no. 1010, uncovered in the area of the Kerameikos metro station at a short distance outside the archaeological site, maybe referred to as an example for the evidence elsewhere (Baziotopoulou-Valavani et al. 2000, p. 271, 304 with fig. 303). On the basis of the pottery, the richly furnished grave can be dated to the first quarter of the 5th c. B.C.

18On the one hand, in relation to other child burials of the 5th c. B.C., the group of graves with sea shell gifts is numerically very small, constituting less than 2% of children’s graves of the period. On the other hand, the graves of this group extend over more than three generations, that is, they appear in the late 6th c. and during the entire 5th c. The group comes to an end concurrently with the 5th c. B.C.; thereafter the custom appears to have changed. In the same period the child burials in the two cemeteries by the South Tumulus and above Tumulus G cease to continue.

  • 17 Hame 1999. The non-observation of the Nomizomena at the burial of parents could lead to a charge o (...)

19The deposition of a sea shell in the grave of newborns and infants buried in a clay recipient seems to reflect a continuously performed burial rite, carried out with respect for certain rules, and endowed with a specific basic meaning. Since the graves of this group were established in a time when the burial of adults and the subsequent grave cult were also subject to a standard, referred to as ‘Ta Nomizomena17, it does not appear incorrect to assume that also during the burial of infants and small children there existed a more or less established custom, and that the requirements of the standardized ritual changed according to the age group of the deceased.

20The question arises, then, which indications are available for an elucidation of the sea shell-ritual: to approach an interpretation, first child burials in other regions were compared, then the species of sea shells found in the Kerameikos child burials were investigated. These are presented in the catalog (Cat. 1-17, fig. 13). To round the picture, the appearance of sea shells in adult burials was examined.

Sea shells in child burials at other sites

  • 18 Immerwahr 1971, p. 208, burial number XVI, pl. 47.14. Immerwahr interprets them as toys.

21As gifts of comestibles, sea shells appear in graves already in the Bronze Age, for example oysters have been found as delicacies (ὄστρεα, homeric ‘τήθεα’) among the gifts in Mycenaean shaft graves (Hünemörder 2000). Parallels for gifts of mollusks in infant burials are found over a wide time span outside the Kerameikos in Athens and Attica, as well as in many other Greek cemeteries. Sea shells as gifts are attested in Athens in the Mycenaean period in three child burials in chamber tombs in the Agora18.

22A context in the children’s cemetery at Astypalaia has been dated to between 850 and 830 B.C. (Michalaki-Kollia 2010, p. 181). There, among the remains of a Geometric offering pit, which contained burnt bones and ‘white mass’, sea shells were also discovered. If the ‘white mass’ proves to be ‘soap’ or even psimmithion, that is, make-up, then this would be the earliest attested connection between marine sea shells, cleansing ceremonies and beauty utensils, and the burial of infants.

  • 19 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70, 84, 204, no. 225, pl. 33 (Blue edible mussel ca. 550 B.C.); 280 no. 448 (...)
  • 20 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 188, no. 165 (sea shell and skyphos together in a pyxis, ca. 575 B.C.); 204 (...)

23In Northern Greek Akanthos, sea shells have been found in many child burials, especially those of neonates and small children, often they were the only grave gift (Kaltsas 1998, p. 302). The same manner of deposition as in the Classical Kerameikos graves is attested in all child burials with sea shells in the West Cemetery at Korinthos (Blegen et al. 1964, see below). In a child burial dating to around 400 B.C. at Olynthos (Robinson 1942, grave 514 p. 102), the sea shell lay in a lidded bowl together with a feeding bottle and an egg shell. The custom has also been observed on the islands of Astypalaia and Rhodos. The comparison with the North Cemetery at Korinthos is very instructive19: in a total of five graves sea shells were found, all five being child burials20. The graves stretch in time from the middle of the 6th c. into the 5th c. B.C.

  • 21 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 84 n. 108; Graves 279, no. 444 (Grave
  • 22 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70 ‘The eggs would seem to be symbols of growth and fertility’.

24In the 4th c. sea shells appear increasingly in the graves of young adults, sometimes in cases of the simultaneous burial of an adult and an infant21. Additional gifts may mirror regional particularities, for example, the eggs found in Korinthos22. Sea shells are also found in amphora burials of the Hellenistic period. One such burial from Tanagra, dating to the 2nd c. B.C., contained eight other gifts and six sea shells (Andreiomenou 2007, p. 55 Grave B / 1).

25The deposition of marine sea shells in child burials is thus a custom practiced over a large geographic area and a wide time span. It is necessary to examine whether the custom changes over time, how it changes, where else it is also attested, and if it is possible to establish or at least suggest the reasons for this custom.

Sea shells as gifts in child burials: the species

  • 23 Exceptions are the sea shells in the adult burials in Kerameikos 14, p. 36-38, no. 24, pl. 34,7 an (...)

26It is necessary to stress that to date it is without exception marine sea shells with two shells (bivalvae) that have been discovered in the child burials in the Kerameikos. As so often the case with organic gifts, they are rarely illustrated, not even in the customary context photos which round off the Kerameikos volumes23, and in some cases they are no longer extant. Moreover, apart from the indication that a sea shell was found in this or that context, there is as a rule no information concerning the species or qualities of the sea shell, even though this is important for the interpretation of the gift.

  • 24 On sea shells in Antiquity: Steier 1933; on species identification: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1 (...)
  • 25 Μytilus edulis Linné, Greek: ὁ μύς. Cf. belonging to the same genus, the Choro sea shell, c (...)
  • 26 Acanthocardia tuberculata Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 176, 254, 294; Dance (...)
  • 27 Glycimeris glycimeris Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou1994, p. 146, 244; or a Venus cock (...)
  • 28 Mactra corallina Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 178, 255; Dance 2003, p. 232.
  • 29 Greek ϰτείς Here chlamys varia Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 161, no. 6; p. 156, no (...)

27In 11 instances the sea shells24 from Kerameikos child burials are preserved, while in six cases they are lost but recorded in the publications (Cat. 1, 2, 8, 9, 11, and 14). The preserved sea shells are all of edible species. Only one shell of the mollusk was deposited while the other is missing. The following species have been identified (fig. 13): the majority are Blue edible mussels25 (Cat. 3, 6, 10, 12, 16; fig. 13.1-5), while the Cockle is represented twice26 (Cat. 13, 15; fig. 13.6, 7), and there is one example each of the Dog cockle27 (Cat. 4; fig. 13.9), the Rayed through shell28 (Cat. 5; fig. 13.10), the Scallop29 (Cat. 7; fig. 13.8), and the Noah’s ark shell (Arca noae Linné: Dance 2003, p. 211; Cat. 17; fig. 13.11).

28The state of preservation of the sea shells varies: the thinner shells of the Blue edible mussel are partly broken, while the thicker shells of the other species are better preserved, although the surface may in some cases be worn, suggesting that the shells were collected on the sea shore and not taken from kitchen refuse (Cf. Rogalla, Amler 2003 and 2007). Only in the case of Cat. 13 (fig. 13.6) damage along the edge is observed, as if from a forced opening, but this piece also has a small hole in the middle, which could be due to an assault by an Assassin snail (Anentome helena), a natural predator of sea shells. In other words, this shell may also have been collected.

  • 30 Cf. a piece from the adult burial hS 34 on the Sacred Road: Vierneisel-Schlörb 1966, 98 no. (...)

29The work traces on Cat. 4 (fig. 13.9) indicate that this sea shell was once used as the bowl of a spoon, or as the container of a creamy or liquid substance30.

Sea shells as gifts in adult burials

  • 31 In some of the cases, they are characterized as ‘young adults’ by anthropologists, in others the i (...)
  • 32 Kerameikos 14, p. 10f., fig. 9; p. 13f., no. 8, pl. 7.1; pl. 28.7-10; pl. 29.1.
  • 33 Kerameikos 14, p. 36-38, no. 24, pl. 9.2; pl. 34.1-9; pl. 35.1-7, esp. pl. 24.18 (Grave of (...)

30A glance at graves of adults, in which sea shells have been noted, will also contribute to an understanding of the phenomenon31. In the Kerameikos, the first sea shells in adult burials appear in the second half of the 5th c.B.C., they increase in numbers during the 4th c., and are still present in Hellenistic burials. In total, to date there are 15 graves containing a sea shell. Two of these burials are securely identified as female, the one through anthropological analysis32, the other through the name Mnesistrate on the extant grave marker (the unpublished Grave HL 39 of the early 1st c. B.C.). One further grave is linked to an actor, a profession which in terms of gender-grouping is evidently equated with the female sex33.

  • 34 Pecten maximus: Keller 1913, p. 560; Kerameikos 14, p. 10f., fig. 9; p. 13f., no. 8, pl. 7. (...)
  • 35 Murex murex: Bruneau 1970, p. 467f., no. 59, fig. 83 (end 2nd c. B.C.) and p. 512, no. 188, (...)

31In the –frequently very richly endowed– adult graves, the sea shells are usually associated with a series of gifts belonging to the female world: there are almost always pyxides, moreover mirrors, alabastra, jewelry, combs, small boxes, and elsewhere also funerary wreaths (Andreiomenou 2007, p. 75, 252, 266, no. H/9 [275-250B.C.]). The lidded vessels and sea shells in child burials seem to hint at an abbreviated version of this gift set. The make-up tablet in Cat. 12, as well as the exaleiptron in Cat. 5 seem to confirm this impression. There is however, a difference between the adult and the child graves containing sea shells and it is related to the species occurring: the species of sea shells in burials of adults are often Great scallops34 and Cockles, whereas Blue mussels (fig. 13.15) do not seem to occur in adult burials. In Argos, Murex shells35 are attested as burial gifts or dedications for adults.

Fig. 13.1-13: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.1-13: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.4-5: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.4-5: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos
  • 36 Cypraea: Keller 1913, p. 541-544; Kerameikos 9, p. 189, E 124, pl. 98.7. Cf. Lennartz 2004.

32Nor have Cowrie shells36, which occasionally are included in adult graves, to date been verified in child burials, at least in the Kerameikos. Into late- and post-antiquity they were regarded upon as a symbol of the female genitalia due to the curved and denticulate opening on the underside. In various cultures, over a large chronological period and in many topographical areas, they have been used as amulets for women, protecting fertility and childbirth. An exotic species in Greece, imported from afar, in classical Greece they are often drilled or mounted to serve as jewelry amulets.

33Seashells as grave gifts are attested well into the Roman Imperial period, as far as the Northern provinces. For instance, they have been found in Roman burials in the Province Germania: Heike Kappes and Bernd Liesen have shown that the sea shells in this area are always placed in richly endowed graves (Kappes, Liesen 1996). Apart from imported sea shells, these graves also contain fresh water mollusks. In three out of 21 examined cases, the mollusks were placed in a recipient, by the head or next to the hand of the deceased. The fact that the Blue mussels and snails frequently discovered in contemporary settlements in the Northern provinces do not appear at all, underlines the symbolic value of the grave gift.

Sea shells in everyday life in Classical times

34Sea shells in Antiquity, as today, had both practical and symbolic meaning. The material value of the sea shell was next to nothing, for ‘ϰόγχης ἄξιον’ meant ‘worthless’ (Suda, s.v. ϰόγχη). In what follows, we will discuss first some of the practical uses of sea shells, then their symbolic meaning.

  • 37 For example in the Iron Age settlement at Kastanas: Becker 1986, p. 232f., fig. 77, 80. See Athena (...)
  • 38 Thread (‘sea silkʼ) from the Giant Mediterranean Pen shell (pinanobilis), which is not present in (...)

35Many species of sea shells constituted a choice dish, served either boiled or fried37, but they also had other practical38 and medical uses, for example, certain species were consumed for their diuretic or laxative effect (Compare Athenaios III 86 c; III 120 d and Steier 1933). Blue mussels were placed on ulcers to aid in the healing process (Plinius, Nat. hist. 32, 95-98).

36In addition, sea shells and in particular Pearl oysters were farmed and the shells themselves or parts of them were employed in the creation of jewelry. For this purpose, the shells were worked by cutting, drilling or polishing them. In pieces of jewelry, sea shells and imitations in other materials probably served a protective function as apotropaic amulets (Bratschkova 1939, p. 5), having thus partly practical and partly symbolic value. Since sea shell jewelry is rarely found in child burials, already David Robinson excluded a primary function as jewelry for these mollusks (Robinson 1942, p. 198).

  • 39 Knigge suspected that the sea shell Inv. 7523, found in the so-called Bau Z in Room P 1 on Floor 1 (...)
  • 40 Liddell (H. G.), Scott (R.) – A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, 1968, p. 1157, s.v. μύστρον.
  • 41 Anderson 1953, p. 165-167, pl. 7a; 1-3 (copies of a cockle in bronze and lead); Papapostolou 1977, (...)

37The sea shells can also be reworked to serve as parts of utensils, for example as the bowl of a spoon39. Probably because spoon bowls were often made from mussel shells, in Greek the word μύστρον, derived from the Blue mussel (μύς), also was used as a synonym for the word “spoon”40. As make-up, soap or cosmetics containers, as well as dedications, sea shells were imitated in other materials41.

38A particular function of sea shells should be mentioned, previously unnoted in this context: some bivalve sea shells counted as a unit for small amounts of liquid. One of them is the χήμη, named after the venus cockle (venus casina) (RE III 2, 2232 s.v. Χήμη [Friedrich Hultsch]). The contents of this measure were a 1/24 of the Attic kotyle, being thus a ¼ kyathos. Also, the Blue mussel was used as a unit of measure: the mystron (μύστρον). It too amounted to a 1/24 of an Attic kotyle. These measure units occur for example in the preparation of medicines and cosmetics quoted by Galenusin a collection of recipes for cosmetics called ‘ἐϰ τῶν Κλεοπάτρας ϰοσμητικῶνʼ (Lüring 1888, p. 123-139; Fabricius 2010, p. 201f). There we also find a further subdivision: the χήμη is distinguished from a small χήμη.

39Certain species of sea shells had at specific times a concrete function in cult. A triton shell served, for example, in Minoan cult as a conch shell trumpet, with which the goddess was called to the altar (Bratschkova 1939, p. 6, fig. 1). Also, the masses of sea shells found in the so-called Shrine of the Snake Goddess (the Temple Repositories) in Knossos have been assigned a cultic function (Evans1903, esp. p. 43 fig. 21; Bratschkova 1939, p. 6).

  • 42 Imhoof-Blumer (F.), Keller (O.) – Tier- und Pflanzenbilder auf Münzen und Gemmen des Klassischen A (...)
  • 43 Others interpret the sea shell represented as pinna nobilis: Grynion: SNG von Aulock 1619, 1620; S (...)
  • 44 Kyme-Cumae: Rutter 2001, p. 66f. no. 514, 526 pl. 9 (in combination with head of the nymph Kyme).
  • 45 SNG München no. 798-800, pl. 29; Fischer-Bossert 1999, p. 219, 249; Rutter 2001, p. 840.

40Several cities employed sea shells as symbols on their coinage, and occasionally they occur as auxiliary device42. Given that there were well known local varieties of sea shells praised as the best of their kind, like the blue mussels from Ephesos or Ainos or the scallops form Mytilene (Athenaios III 87 c; III 90 d, 92 d), this may well have to do with a local product. In some cases, they were attributes of a local deity or nymph. The species of the sea shell plays an important role in theses contexts: a Blue mussel is, for example, the symbol of Grynion in Aeolia43, and a Blue mussel also occurs as an auxiliary device on the coinage of Kyme-Cumae in Campania44. The Great scallop occurs as symbol or auxiliary device of several cities, among them Kroton (Attianese 2005, p. 110f., no. 3; p. 426f., no. 141) and Tarentum45. It is depicted also as auxiliary device on coins from Syracuse, where the obverse is decorated with the head of the local nymph Arethousa (SNG Copenhagen 697ff.).

41A sea shell, usually a scallop or a cockle, served as an attribute for the goddess Aphrodite or Isis-Aphrodite in Mother Goddess. In particular, the sea shells symbolized the protector of pregnant women, birthing women and women in childbed (Isis Lochia: Coche de la Ferté 1974, p. 275, 280-282, 285, pl. 17) In this function, scallops or cockles were depicted on amulet jewelry made from precious materials, for example on a golden bracelet bearing the inscription EYTOKIA (Coche de la Ferté 1974, p. 266, 275f., 280, pl. 17).

  • 46 Anthologia Palatina, VI, 224; Athenaios, VII, 318 B: in the 5th epigram of Kallimachos the (...)
  • 47 The relief is dated to the 1st c. A.D.: Zahlhaas 1975, p. 530, pl. 14.
  • 48 E.g. Keller 1913, p. 560; Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 333f. with fig.; Coche de l (...)
  • 49 Marx 1928, p. 26 line 704; 149f. (Plautus, Rudens III, 3, 42: ‘Te ex concha natam esse autumant: c (...)

42As dedications, sea shells played a role in Greek classical antiquity both in the cult of Aphrodite46 and in that of the Nymphs. A cockle is depicted among the dedications on the relief stele of the priestess Claudia Ageta from Amyklai, today in London47. From the 4th c. B.C. onwards, the connection of the cockle and the Great scallop shells with the cult of Aphrodite is demonstrated by terracotta statuettes, vase paintings and figurative vessels, later also jewelry, in which the goddess is represented in an open sea shell48. According to this version of the Aphrodite myth, the goddess was born from a sea shell. This idea appears in literature in the 2nd c. B.C. in Plautus49 and then in Roman times in Sextus Pompeius Faustus (Sextus Pompeius Faustus, Paul. Diac. 36).

  • 50 In the Korykian Cave ca. 400 sea shells were found. Pierre Amandry interpreted them as votive offe (...)

43The importance of sea shells as dedications in the cult of the Nymphs is easily proven by the massive appearance of sea shells in the Korykian Cave near Delphi50. The fact that here, they appear together with a large number of astragals, which occasionally also occur together with seashells in child burials (Cat. 3, 17) could be significant.

On the interpretation of sea shells in child burials

44To date, sea shells in child burials have been interpreted as toys, or as payment for the ferryman Charon. Other interpretations have understood them as a symbol of the afterlife, as remedy, as symbol of fertility, rebirth or immortality, others emphasized the decorative character, or stressed an importance as food dedication (Kappes, Liesen 1996, p. 129 n. 3 and Bruneau 1970, p. 529). An apotropaic value has been attributed to the sea shells by several authors, merely based on the fact that they were deposited as grave gifts, but this view is hardly supported by other data.

  • 51 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70 succinctly: ‘The shells no doubt are toys’; also p. 84. Cf. also Houby-N (...)

45The interpretation as toys is commonly assumed51, but an ancient example for this, independent of finds of sea shells in child burials, is lacking so far. An actual use as toys for babies appears possible at the most in symbolic terms, as even with older children, there is serious danger of injury or of choking on parts (for example with Blue mussel).

46The combination together with make-up and objects connected to beauty care is attested in both adult and child burials. These finds indicate a gender-specific meaning for the sea shells in adult graves, that is, the deceased were either female, or men who were gendered as feminine, for example actors. In a child burial from the South Tumulus it was observed, that next to a blue mussel there lay the remains of a ‘fatty substance’ in the lidded bowl, which has been interpreted, no doubt correctly, as make-up tablet (psimmithion, Cat. 12).

Fig. 13.6-8: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.6-8: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.9-11: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

Fig. 13.9-11: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos

47In my opinion, an interpretation, taking into account the find circumstances, must be based on the following premises, which ensue from the reviewed contexts:

  1. The deposition of sea shells is –given the hundreds of published child burials– a rare, but spatially and temporally widely spread phenomenon, which is attested in Greece especially from the late 6th to the late 5th c. B.C.
  2. The sea shells are found primarily in graves of newborns and very young children. In Athens, they appear mainly in the recipient burials employed for these age groups (enchytrismoi).
  3. Sea shells in child burials are usually found together with other gifts52; sometimes there are more than 10 and, more rarely, more than 20 objects in one such grave.
  4. In Athenian child burials, sea shells are very rarely found together with feeding bottles, which obviously constitute a gift for older children.
  5. The species of the sea shells are easily available, edible and bivalve mollusks.
  6. Only one shell of these bivalves is deposited.
  7. During the 5th century B.C., the shell is always placed in a vessel. The vessel has ‘normal’ size, not miniature format. In most cases it is a lidded bowl or pyxis. In the same vessel, another pot may be placed; usually it is a miniature dish. In one case (Cat. 12) a make-up tablet was placed in the same pyxis.
  8. A comparison with adult burials in which sea shells were found is instructive: Sea shells appear in adult graves since the Classical period together with make-up, mirrors, and jewelry, and are thus generally interpreted as a characteristic grave gift for female deceased53. Apart from that, in exceptional cases, the sea shell lay in the mouth of the deceased, obviously replacing the Charon’s obol. In these cases, the shell has completely different function; it is the slightest value available for this purpose (compare above, note 57).
  9. The deposition of sea shells in child burials is attested into Imperial times, in Rome and the Roman provinces. The one Roman burial in the Kerameikos, however, belongs to an older child (Cat. 17). Child burials of that period, containing sea shells or imitations of sea shells in other materials (silver, lead, amber, etc), are usually equipped with overall richer gifts. For example, the burial of a girl uncovered in Vetralla (Lazio, Italy) contained costly gold jewelry and among many other grave gifts, a sea shell imitation in amber54.

48Given the above, it is possible to distinguish three fields of use:

Food for the deceased

  • 55 Sea shells as edible offerings were found in graves in Troy and Mycenae: Bratschkova 1939, p. 5 n. (...)

49Sea shells can only be interpreted as gifts of comestibles where the complete mollusk with both shells intact, was found55. This reading can be eliminated, in my opinion, because in the child burials in the Kerameikos, as a rule only one shell is deposited.

Object of use and jewellery

50Worked, pierced or mounted sea shells or Cowrie shells can be used as parts of jewelry or amulets. The use as tools, for example as the bowl of a spoon, or as a make-up or jewelry container, can sometimes be determined from the work traces on the sea shell. In the child burials, the majority of the sea shell shows no traces of working, but they may have been used as spoons without being worked over.

Symbol

51The deposition of sea shells in the Kerameikos child burials of the classical period follows a certain pattern: a single sea shell is placed in a vessel, usually covered by a lid. Where such observations are available, the shells were placed with the opening pointing upwards. This makes it possible, and even probable, that they contained a substance.

  • 56 Exaleiptra belong to the feminine sphere: Schiering 1983, p. 142f.
  • 57 Amandry 1984, p. 378 on the find combination of astragali and sea shells; p. 379 on the copying of (...)

52A connection, on the other hand, to the realm of beauty–wedding–Aphrodite is established by the pyxides and the lidded bowls found with the shells, and even hinted at by the finds of a make-up tablet in one child burial and of an exaleiptron in another56. The massive dedication of mollusks in the cave of the Korykian nymphs (connected to childbirth and fertility) at Delphi argues for a symbolic use of the sea shells57. As a gender symbol, the mollusks can stand for the feminine sphere. As, for example, Graepler has noted in Taranto, gender specific gifts appear well before the sexual maturity of the children (Graepler 1997, p. 173). A connection with make-up paraphernalia or medicinal utensils may indicate a relationship with marriage, pregnancy and birth.

53Within these possibilities, the sea shells may have been used as a spoon, that is a feeding tool for the neonates and young babies, as indicated by the lack of feeding bottles in most graves with sea shells. Equally probable is their use as measure and container for a very small amount of liquid, perhaps a small serving of wine or milk (a small libation), honey or a dose of medicine or cosmetics.

  • 58 Houby-Nielsen 1995, on the so-called Makareus grave; in addition, the grave of the 40 year old act (...)

54Sea shells are found either in graves of neonates or of very young infants, or in graves of women, or persons who are gendered female (actors)58. Sea shells are thus – based on their presence in child and adult burials – both an age- as well as a gender-specific gift. The sea shells are connected to the female sphere, to the cult of Aphrodite and the Nymphs, and in particular to the paraphernalia of the bride. Aphrodite and the Nymphs had a protective function in the wedding of a girl and they played an important role at birth: EYTOKIA is the wish of every pregnant woman.

Catalog of child burials with sea shell in the Kerameikos

55The graves are arranged chronologically in the catalog. The position in the grave, the number and the types of other gifts are indicated. Where possible, the species of the sea shell is given. The measurements of the mollusks were taken in the following manner: the length was measured from hinge to edge, the width across to the edge at the widest point.

56Cat. 1 Cremation burial of a child on the southern bank of the Eridanos
Total of 23 grave gifts lay on the west and east sides of the grave pit: 18 miniature vessels and 5 clay balls, as well as a sea shell. On the basis of the nature of the gifts determined to be a child burial. The sea shell is now lost. 950-900 B.C.
Kerameikos 5, p. 24, 212f., no. 3, pl. 14.

57Cat. 2 Child burial in amphora by Tumulus G south of Sacred Road (HTR 111)
Two further gifts: two Black-figure kylikes. The sea shell is now lost.
525-500 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 26, no. 21a, Beil. 3 (sea shell not mentioned); Kerameikos 7.2, p. 15f., no. 21a, pl. 10.9; 11.7.

58Cat. 3 Child burial in hydria by Tumulus G south of Sacred Road (HTR 63). Fig. 1; 13.1
Ten further gifts: a Black-figure lekythos, a chytra, a one-handled cup, a small bowl, a miniature kotyle as well as five astragali. The sea shell lay in the unpainted chytra, together with the kotyle.
Fragment of Blue edible mussel. L. 3.3 cm; W. 2.2 cm.
500-490 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 37, no. 81, pl. 14.2, 3, Beil. 3;
Kerameikos 7.2, p. 33, no. 81, pl. 21.4.

59Cat. 4 Child burial in amphora in South Tumulus (HW 167). Fig. 2; 13.9
Amphora placed upright.
Three further gifts: a lidded pyxis, a small olpe, and a small bowl. The sea shell lay in the lidded pyxis. Dog cockle, white, the back with yellowish coloration. Heavy, porcelain-like shell with signs of working (spoon?): hinge rounded for reception of wooden handle.
Edge of shell worn. L. 5 cm; B. 4.8 cm.
500-490 B.C.
Kerameikos 9, p. 88, no. 16, pl. 44.3-6.

60Cat. 5 Child burial in amphora by Tumulus G south of Sacred Road (HTR 96). Fig. 3; 13.10
Ten further gifts: two Black-figure lekythoi, a lidded bowl, a skyphos, an exaleiptron, five miniature skyphoi. The sea shell lay together with the skyphos in one of the lidded bowls.
Venus Cockle. Light, thin shell with transversal ribbing. L. 4.5 cm; W. 4.9 cm.
Around 490 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 33, no. 62, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 25, no. 62, pl. 16.1.

61Cat. 6 Child burial in amphora by Tumulus G south of Sacred Road (HTR 3). Fig. 4; 13.2
Three further gifts: a black-glaze lidded pyxis, an olpe, and a small bowl. The sea shell lay in the lidded bowl.
Blue edible mussel. L. 8 cm; W. max. 3.7 cm.
480-470 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 32, no. 52, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 23, no. 52, pl. 14.8.

62Cat. 7 Child burial in amphora by South Tumulus (HW 173). Fig. 5; 13.8
Nine further gifts: six Black-figure lekythoi, an olpe, a pyxis, and a small bowl. The sea shell lay in small bowl inside the lidded pyxis.
Scallop. L. 3.7 cm; W. 3.3 cm.
480-470 B.C.
Kerameikos 9, p. 110f., no. 92, pl. 51.1, 2, 4.

63Cat. 8 Child burial in amphora south of Sacred Road (35 HTR 30 I).
Fig. 6
Five further gifts: a lekythos, a juglet, the lower half of a one-handled lidded bowl, a one-handled small bowl, and a bowl. The sea shell lay in the lidded bowl.
The sea shell is now lost.
475-450 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 54, no. 184a, pl. 17.1, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 54, no. 184, pl. 31.7.

64Cat. 9 Child burial in amphora south of Sacred Road (HTR 108). Fig. 7
Three further gifts: a skyphos, a lidded lekanis, a jug. The sea shell lay together with the jug in the lekanis. The sea shell is now lost.
470-460 B.C. Kerameikos 7.1, p. 36, no. 79, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 32, no. 79, pl. 21.6.

65Cat. 10 Child burial in amphora south of Sacred Road (39 HTR 2). Fig. 8; 13.3
Three further gifts: a lekythos, a skyphos, a bowl.
The sea shell lay in the bowl. Large Blue edible mussel. L. 5 cm; W. 2.5 cm.470-450 B.C. Kerameikos 7.1, p. 58, no. 209, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 57, no. 209, pl. 32.1.

66Cat. 11 Child burial in square clay tub south of Sacred Road (HTR 67). Fig. 9
At least six further gifts: a lidded bowl, four Black-figure lekythoi, fragments of terracottas. The sea shell lay in the one-handled pyxis (‘lidded bowl’).
The sea shell is now lost.
450-430 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 59, no. 213, Beil. 3; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 58, no. 213, pl. 32.8.

67Cat. 12 Child burial in amphora by South Tumulus (SW 113). Fig. 10; 13.4
Five further gifts in the amphora: a lekythos, a lidded bowl, two skyphoi, probable make-up tablet. The sea shell lay in the lidded bowl together with the remains of a make-up tablet.
Blue edible mussel. Conserved L. 4.5; W. 4.8 cm.450-425 B.C.
Kerameikos 9, p. 153, no. 297, pl. 66.5, 6.

68Cat. 13 Child burial in clay tub in Tumulus G south of Sacred Road (HTR 20). Fig. 11; 13.6
Three further gifts: a Black-figured lekythos, a skyphos, a bowl.
The sea shell lay in the bowl at the northern end of the grave.
White cockle. L. 4.5 cm; W. 4.8 cm.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 38, no. 86, pl. 3.2, 15.1, 3, Beil. 3;
Kerameikos 7.2, p. 35f., no. 86, pl. 22.2.

69Cat. 14 Child burial in square clay tub north of Street of the Tombs (NNO. 37= WP 15 außen). Unpublished Sixteen further gifts: nine Black-figure lekythoi (two outside tub), a lekanis, four juglets, a tumbler, a bolsal. The sea shell lay with the gifts outside the tub, in the lekanis, at the head end (to the east).
450-425 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 150 no. 489, pl. 62.1, Beil. 51, 52, 54.2 (sea shell not mentioned); Kerameikos 7.2, p. 129f. no. 48, pl. 88.1, 2, 6.

70Cat. 15 Child burial in amphora north of Street of the Tombs (NNO. 149= 32 XX 1). Fig. 12; 13.7
One further gift: a lidded lekanis. Slip inside black to medium brown. The edge band of the lid inside covered with red Miltos. Wear on lid: at inside center and along edge on one side, with matching wear on outside. Traces of use on the bowl: inside on one side and inside in foot rounded surfaces, as if ground by pestle. The sea shell lay in the lidded lekanis.
Cockle, edges slightly damaged. L. 4.8 cm; W. 5 cm.
End of 5th c. B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 163f., no. 567, pl. 67.2, 71.1, Beil. 51, 53; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 142f., no. 567, pl. 94.2, 7, Beil. 4.

71Cat. 16 Child burial in amphora north of Street of the Tombs (NNO. 96= P 52). Fig. 13.5
Amphora mouth and head to east. Belly of amphora broken. 1935 together with finds from Cremation burial 50 conserved.
Two further gifts: at head a black-glazed pyxis, a small plate.
The sea shell lay in the pyxis, covered by inverted small plate.
Blue edible mussel. L. 4.8 cm; W. 2.5 cm. Interior edge flattened, from use as spoon?
Around 400 B.C.
Kerameikos 7.1, p. 125, no. 417, Beil. 51, 52; Kerameikos 7.2, p. 106, no. 417.

72Cat. 17 Child burial, covered by a drain tile, in front of Dipylon (ZD 2). Fig. 13.11
Twenty-three further gifts: a round shield, a balsamarium, four iron stili, a small ship model and 16 astragali. The sea shell lay inside up next to the left shinbone of the three to six year old child, underneath a terracotta round shield, together with the balsamarium, a, astragalus, and the four iron stili. By the right shinbone a small terracotta ship mode, by the feet a small bag with 15 astragali. One shell of a Noah’s ark shell. L. 7.2 cm; W. 2.7 cm.
collected. The edge of the shell is rounded by grinding. Inside in one spot red discoloration (pigment?) 1st quarter 1st c. A.D (Augustan).
stroszeck 2000, esp. p. 464-470, no.6, fig.15.

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Papapostolou 1977: PAPAPOSTOLOU (I. A.) – Ελληνιστικοί τάφοι της Πάτρας. ADelt, 32, 1977, p. 281-343.

Robinson 1942: ROBINSON (D.M.) – Excavations at Olynthus, XI. Necrolynthia. A Study in Greek burial customs and Anthropology. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1942.

Rogalla, Amler 2003: ROGALLA (N.S.), AMLER (M.R.W.) – Abrasion an rezenten Bivalvenschalen. Geologica et Paleontologica, 37, 2003, p. 107-148.

Rogalla, Amler 2007: ROGALLA (N.S.), AMLER (M.R.W.) – Statistic approach on taphonomic phenomena in shells of Glycymeris glycymeris (bivalvia: Glycymerididae) and its significance in the fossil record. Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 81, 2007, p. 334-355.

Rutherfurd Roberts 1978: RUTHERFURD ROBERTS (S.) – The Attic Pyxis. Chicago, Ares, 1978.Rutter 2001: RUTTER (N.K.) ed. – Historia Numorum Italy. London, British Museum Press, 2001.

Schiering 1983: SCHIERING (W.) – Die griechischen Tongefässe. Gestalt, Bestimmung und Formenwandel. Berlin, Mann, 1983.

Segall 1938: SEGALL (B.) - Katalog der Goldschmiede-Arbeiten, Benaki Museum. Athens, éd. Pyrsos, 1938.

Steier 1933: STEIER (1933) – Muscheln. RE XVI.1, 1933, col. 774-796.

Stroszeck 2000: STROSZECK (J.) – Kerameikosgrabung 1999. AA, 2000, p. 455-478.

Stroszeck 2002-2003: STROSZECK (J.) – Der Tod in der Fremde. Bestattungen von Ausländern in der klassischen Antike. Nürnberger Blätter zur Archäologie, 19, 2002-2003, p. 159-180.

Stroszeck 2010: STROSZECK (J.) – Das Heiligtum der Tritopatores in Athen. In: Frielinghaus (H.), Stroszeck (J.) dir., Neue Forschungen ingriechischen Städten und Heiligtümern. Kolloquium Regensburg 4./5. November 2005. Festschrift für Burkhard Wesenberg zum 65. Geburtstag. Münster, Bibliopolis, 2010, p. 55-83, pl. 25-33.

Vierneisel-Schlörb 1966: VIERNEISEL-SCHLÖRB (B.) – Eridanos-Nekropole. Berichte über die Grabungen 1964 und 1965 südlich der Heiligen Straße. AM, 81, 1966, p. 4-111, Beil. 1-63.

Zahlhaas 1975: ZAHLHAAS (G.) – Über die Auswirkungen der weiblichen Schönheit. Gymnasium, 82, 1975, p. 527-544, pl. 13-24.

Notes

1 In a contribution to Classical child burials in the Kerameikos, S. Houby-Nielsen connects sea shells as gifts with the age groups 1 (newborn), 2 (older babies) and 4 (ʻadultsʼ): Houby-Nielsen 1995, p. 182f. (Appendix 4).

2 Kerameikos 7.1, p. 5-9 and passim, as well as beil. 3.

3 Kerameikos 9, p. 13, plan 1.3 and passim.

4 The establishment of the ambassador graves, using public funds, at the foot of the South Tumulus supports this view: Kerameikos, Inv. I 18; I 241; I 242. IG II2 no. 5220, 5224; IG I3 no. 1178: Hoepfner 1973; Stroszeck 2002/2003.

5 On the interpretation of pots used for child burials as uterus: Michalaki-Kollia 2010, p. 164.

6 To date, no other use, for example in a settlement context, is documented. Kerameikos 7.1, p. 179 with n. 39; Ursula Knigge did consider a use as container for kneading dough: Kerameikos 9, p. 29f. n. 50.

7 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 68 with clay; no. 526, 487, 165, 32 with a sherd; no. 76 with a bowl sherd painted reddish-black on the inside; no. 466 and 441 with a covering bowl; 67 with the base of a vase; no. 66 with the base of a bowl; no. 241 with a poros fragment; no. 181 with a piece of micaceous slate. Kerameikos 7.1, no. 240 had its opening closed by brick fragments.

8 The amphora fragment Kerameikos 7.1, no. 198 was covered with a clay tub fragment and a 10 cm thick stone slab; in the case of no. 47 the amphora was surrounded and covered with field stones.

9 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 567, 468, 441, 417, 245, 241, 240, 216, 207, 164, 117, 116, 79, 68, 52, 47, 32 ʻin the mouthʼ.

10 Kerameikos 7.1, no. 187; no. 181 small bowl; no. 112 two small bowls; in the case of no. 76 the gifts are placed outside on both sides of the Black-figure amphora. In no. 33 part of the gifts were placed inside and part outside, next to the amphora.

11 Rutherfurd Roberts 1978, p. 2, 4f. and 177-187 (on the pyxis in the female sphere as a container for make-up and jewelry and with special connection to the wedding).

12 Occasionally also termed ʻlidded bowlʼ cf. Breitfeld-von Eickstedt 1997 and the announced dissertation p. 60 n. 2.

13 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70: ‘The pyxis, which is usually considered to indicate a woman’s grave, has a different significance at Korinthos; it occurs regularly in children’s burials, and, furthermore, often in graves which also contain strigils, the conclusion is that the pyxis was dedicated primarily to children, both male and female’.

14 Graepler 1997, p. 53 n. 118: Table with sizes for children 1-14 years of age. 1 year: 80 cm; 6 years: 118 cm; 14 years: 163 cm.

15 E.g. Korinthos, North Cemetery: child burial in sarcophagus Blegen et al. 1964, p. 225, no. 286; Olynthos, Grave 462 (450-400 B.C.) and Grave 327 (ca. 420 B.C.): Robinson 1942, p. 67, 94. This find combination is also to be observed among the dedications in the Korykian Cave at Delphi: Amandry 1984, p. 378.

16 Immerwahr 1971, p. 138f. A feeding bottle was found in a Late Mycenaean child burial in the Agora (LH IIIA2 and IIIB). She notes that this gift was clearly intended for older children.

17 Hame 1999. The non-observation of the Nomizomena at the burial of parents could lead to a charge of kakosis goneon: Aischines 1 (contra Timarchos) 13f.

18 Immerwahr 1971, p. 208, burial number XVI, pl. 47.14. Immerwahr interprets them as toys.

19 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70, 84, 204, no. 225, pl. 33 (Blue edible mussel ca. 550 B.C.); 280 no. 448, pl. 72 (grave of a mother and child, as judged by the authors according to the gifts, to the child a large Scallop is assigned, 350-325 B.C.).

20 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 188, no. 165 (sea shell and skyphos together in a pyxis, ca. 575 B.C.); 204f., no. 224 (Blue edible mussel in skyphos, ca. 550 B.C.); 208, no. 239 (sea shell in pyxis, 550-525 B.C.); 225, no. 286 (Blue edible mussel and skyphos in pyxis, 500475 B.C.); 226, no. 291 (sea shell in a lekanis, ca. 475 B.C.).

21 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 84 n. 108; Graves 279, no. 444 (Grave

L: 1,78; sea shell and bowl in lekanis, 375-350 B.C.); 280, no. 448 (Grave of mother and child? 350-325 B.C.); 285, no. 464 (Grave of an adult, sea shell next to oinochoe, ca. 300 B.C.); 292f., no. 496 (richly furnished adult grave with child, with 6 sea shells, 300-350 B.C.); as well as the ‘deposits’ 304, no. D 14 (sea shell in lekanis, 450-425 B.C.); 308, no. D 36 g (sea shell in pyxis, 4th c. B.C.).

22 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70 ‘The eggs would seem to be symbols of growth and fertility’.

23 Exceptions are the sea shells in the adult burials in Kerameikos 14, p. 36-38, no. 24, pl. 34,7 and p. 59f., no. 59 (Eck 45), pl. 45.1.

24 On sea shells in Antiquity: Steier 1933; on species identification: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, passim; Dance 2003, passim.

25 Μytilus edulis Linné, Greek: ὁ μύς. Cf. belonging to the same genus, the Choro sea shell, choromytilus chorus molina: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou1994, p. 148.

26 Acanthocardia tuberculata Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 176, 254, 294; Dance 2003, p. 228f.

27 Glycimeris glycimeris Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou1994, p. 146, 244; or a Venus cockle (venus casina Linné): Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 188, 190, 262 (matching shape, transverse striation, teeth on inner edge, muscle attachment inside).

28 Mactra corallina Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 178, 255; Dance 2003, p. 232.

29 Greek ϰτείς Here chlamys varia Linné: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 161, no. 6; p. 156, no. 1a; Dance 2003, p. 219.Scallops served not only as a votive offering to Aphrodite, they also appear ca. 500 B.C. as symbol on the coinage of Tarento, as wellas on the coins of Syracuse: Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 35, fig. β. γ.

30 Cf. a piece from the adult burial hS 34 on the Sacred Road: Vierneisel-Schlörb 1966, 98 no. 176 Beil. 60, 1.2.

31 In some of the cases, they are characterized as ‘young adults’ by anthropologists, in others the identification is uncertain, because the skeleton has not been studied by anthropologists and the length (over 1,40 m) suggests to the archaeologist that the deceased was fully grown.

32 Kerameikos 14, p. 10f., fig. 9; p. 13f., no. 8, pl. 7.1; pl. 28.7-10; pl. 29.1.

33 Kerameikos 14, p. 36-38, no. 24, pl. 9.2; pl. 34.1-9; pl. 35.1-7, esp. pl. 24.18 (Grave of the actor Makareus, ca. 370 B.C.).

34 Pecten maximus: Keller 1913, p. 560; Kerameikos 14, p. 10f., fig. 9; p. 13f., no. 8, pl. 7.1; pl. 28.7-10; pl. 29.1; Blegen et al.1964, p. 280, no. 448, pl. 72 (mother and child, 350-325 B.C.); Andreiomenou 2007, p. 75, 252, 266, no. H/9 (275-250 B.C.).

35 Murex murex: Bruneau 1970, p. 467f., no. 59, fig. 83 (end 2nd c. B.C.) and p. 512, no. 188, fig. 207 (150-100 B.C.).

36 Cypraea: Keller 1913, p. 541-544; Kerameikos 9, p. 189, E 124, pl. 98.7. Cf. Lennartz 2004.

37 For example in the Iron Age settlement at Kastanas: Becker 1986, p. 232f., fig. 77, 80. See Athenaios ΙΙΙ 90b, 94b and III 120d.

38 Thread (‘sea silkʼ) from the Giant Mediterranean Pen shell (pinanobilis), which is not present in graves, were used in the production of cloth: Alciphron 1,2; Tertullian, de pallio 3.

39 Knigge suspected that the sea shell Inv. 7523, found in the so-called Bau Z in Room P 1 on Floor 13, was used as a spoon: Kerameikos 17, p. 136, no. 220, pl. 74. In comparison Jacopi 1929, p. 72 fig. 62: bronze bowl of a spoon in the form of a cockle.

40 Liddell (H. G.), Scott (R.) – A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, 1968, p. 1157, s.v. μύστρον.

41 Anderson 1953, p. 165-167, pl. 7a; 1-3 (copies of a cockle in bronze and lead); Papapostolou 1977, p. 326f. silver sea shell as make-up container by the right shoulder of the skeleton; crystal sea shell in a female burial of the 1st c. B.C. in the Peiraios: Segall 1938, no. 94, pl. 26; on the copying of sea shells in other materials, cf. also Amandry 1984, p. 379.

42 Imhoof-Blumer (F.), Keller (O.) – Tier- und Pflanzenbilder auf Münzen und Gemmen des Klassischen Altertums. Leipzig 1889, p. 147. 148 pl. 24.

43 Others interpret the sea shell represented as pinna nobilis: Grynion: SNG von Aulock 1619, 1620; SNG Copenhagen 205-207.

44 Kyme-Cumae: Rutter 2001, p. 66f. no. 514, 526 pl. 9 (in combination with head of the nymph Kyme).

45 SNG München no. 798-800, pl. 29; Fischer-Bossert 1999, p. 219, 249; Rutter 2001, p. 840.

46 Anthologia Palatina, VI, 224; Athenaios, VII, 318 B: in the 5th epigram of Kallimachos the daughter of Kleinias from Smyrna dedicates to Aphrodite-Arsinoe a sea shell that she had found on the beach on Keos.

47 The relief is dated to the 1st c. A.D.: Zahlhaas 1975, p. 530, pl. 14.

48 E.g. Keller 1913, p. 560; Delamotte, Bardala-Theodôrou 1994, p. 333f. with fig.; Coche de la Ferté 1974, pl. 19; St. Petersburg, Eremitage: Bratschkova 1939, p. 8f. fig. 2.

49 Marx 1928, p. 26 line 704; 149f. (Plautus, Rudens III, 3, 42: ‘Te ex concha natam esse autumant: caue tu harum conchas spernasʼ).

50 In the Korykian Cave ca. 400 sea shells were found. Pierre Amandry interpreted them as votive offerings. Some species also appear in graves, but not all. Amandry 1984, p. 347-380; on the sea shells esp. p. 378-380, fig. 43, 44.

51 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70 succinctly: ‘The shells no doubt are toys’; also p. 84. Cf. also Houby-Nielsen 1995, p. 182 f. Appendix 4 places the sea shells in burial gift group 6, that is, the toys.

52 In the northern Greek necropolis of Akanthos, sea shells obviously do occur as the only grave gift: Kaltsas 1998, p. 302.

53 Blegen et al. 1964, p. 70 on eggs and marine sea shells: ‘Most of these occur in children’s graves, the rest probably indicate women’s burialsʼ.

54 Bordenache-Battaglia 1995, p. 49-78 grave context no. VI, 62 fig. 14 (sea shell imitation made in amber).

55 Sea shells as edible offerings were found in graves in Troy and Mycenae: Bratschkova 1939, p. 5 n. 3; Keller 1913, p. 563.

56 Exaleiptra belong to the feminine sphere: Schiering 1983, p. 142f.

57 Amandry 1984, p. 378 on the find combination of astragali and sea shells; p. 379 on the copying of sea shells in other materials.

58 Houby-Nielsen 1995, on the so-called Makareus grave; in addition, the grave of the 40 year old actor Hieronymos, likewise on the Eckterrasse: Kerameikos 14, p. 56. 62-63 burial no. 69 pl. 26.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 13.1-13: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos
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Titre Fig. 13.4-5: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos
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Titre Fig. 13.6-8: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos
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Titre Fig. 13.9-11: Overview of sea shell species in child burials in the Kerameikos
URL http://books.openedition.org/pccj/docannexe/image/1362/img-6.jpg
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