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Hydria - A Window to the Past

Hydria - A Window to the Past

Hydria are more durable than wood, textile or wall painting and many surviving examples of decorated hydriai offer a glimpse into the life, culture, and history of ancient Greece.

Although plain versions were probably much more commonly used, the painted hydriai show Greek myths describing their view of creation and their gods and heroes. Especially valuable for historians are the scenes from daily life: the battles, the sports, the theatre, symposiums, entertainments and the role of women.

The image illustrates an all too familiar division of gender roles. On the shoulder of the jar in this picture there is a frieze of men sparring but the main scene is of women chatting together whilst collecting water.

Wealthy families would send servants but in poor households it would be the wife or daughters who undertook this task. They are all wearing cushioning pads on their heads to support the heavy jars and it is perhaps a typical view of daily life in ancient Greece.

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