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The Mysterious Cycladic Cylindrical Pyxis


Cycladic cylindrical pyxis with lid, ca. 32000–2700 BCE. 30929. Gift of Peggy Zoumboulaki. Benaki Museum. On display in the Gods, Myths & Mortals exhibition at the Hellenic Museum.

Can you say the phrase ‘Cycladic cylindrical pyxis’ three times fast? What a tongue twister!


The pyxis (plural pyxides) has been found buried in prehistoric and ancient Greek graves – but we still don’t know exactly how they were used. They are usually decorated in beautiful geometric patterns and can be made from all types of materials – this one features a herringbone pattern. Their small size leads many historians to believe that they may have held shiny jewels, perfumes, or ancient knick-knacks! Or perhaps they may have held nothing at all, existing as a symbolic or spiritual object for the afterlife. How mysterious!

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