Omicron goes 007!

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Greek gold jewellery

Our collection of Greek jewellery in 14 and 18 carat gold is made for us in Greece.

The Greek key design, also known as the ‘meandros’ or ‘meander’, appears throughout ancient Greek art, from the geometric period onwards. It is a symbol of infinity and unity, also thought to represent the labyrinth or maze, and our quest for the ultimate goal. It appears variously as a square motif or as a spiral.

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Moving to Museum Street – October 2015!

What better than to celebrate autumn and the festive season of our 15th year with a move to Museum Street!

After months of preparing to leave our shop in 65 Great Russell Street after almost a decade there, we opened at 25a Museum Street on 12th October. It is a lovely little shop – the third of four retail units in Museum House, a warm red-brick building, dating to 1890, on the left side of the street as you approach the Museum.

Whilst we are well established in Bloomsbury since 2003, we are newcomers to Museum Street but are loving our new neighbourhood and our new neighbours.

We’ve very much enjoyed settling into our smaller but very cute shop, with its little cast iron fireplace, lovely floorboards and little porch! A new chapter in the life of It’s All Greek.

We look forward to welcoming visitors and friends, old and new.

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bronze shields, ships and armour gallery

Our range of replica ancient Greek bronze helmets continues to be one of our most popular collections. The prototype is a plain, uncrested Corinthian helmet of the 6th century BC, examples of which are to be found in the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum and the museum in Olympia. Crests would originally not have been in bronze, of course. Symbolic motifs such as the sphinx, the griffin and the serpent, have been added to create a powerful impact.

These helmets are produced for us in Greece by a well-known family of specialist bronzesmiths, with whom we have been working since 2000. Each piece is individually cast using the lost-wax technique. The method of oxidisation and patination results in a rich combination of texture and colour unique to each piece.

To view our full range of replicas visit https://itsallgreek.co.uk

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Geometric gallery

 

Geometric pottery 

Geometric art flourished in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The style is characterised by abstract motifs like the ‘meander’ (or ‘Greek key’), triangles and linear decoration in various permutations and combinations. Different from the fluid, circular decoration and iconography of the preceding Minoan and Mycenean periods.

The repetitive, formulaic nature of the decoration reminds us of Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, where we have the literary equivalent of these motifs in the epithets and formulaic lines which form the bedrock of the poems.

On some geometric vases we see bands of birds, horses or ibex depicted, but again as repeated formulae. In the middle of the 8th century, there begin to appear human figures, such as on the famous Dipylon vase. They are shown in silhouette, without perspective, rather like ‘stick’ men and often as part of a funerary scene, which reflects the purpose for which many of these vases were used, namely as grave markers.

To view our full collection visit our website https://itsallgreek.co.uk

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Minoan pottery gallery

Minoan pottery

The dynamic, artistic and highly sophisticated Minoan civilisation flourished on Crete and on Thera/Santorini ca 2700-1500BC. Named after the mythological King Minos, the wealthy MInoans traded extensively across the Mediterranean area. Their vast palaces were adorned with colourful frescoes and pottery which reflected their love of the natural world.

Each item in our Minoan pottery collection is painted by hand. The variety of shapes, iconography and colour reflects the rich and varied culture of the Minoans. Many of the originals, on which these pieces are based, are in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete.

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painted pottery gallery (1)

painted pottery

Ancient Greek vases are one of our most important sources for understanding ancient Greek culture, history, everyday life, mythology and iconography. Our collection of replica ancient Greek vases at It’s All Greek comes to us from four of our Greek suppliers.

black-figure pottery

The black-figure technique of ancient Greek vase-painting was developed between the 7th-5th centuries BC. The principal centres for this style were initially Corinth, then Athens. Other important production sites were Boeotia, Laconia and in the Greek colonies of southern Italy, where individual styles developed which catered for the Etruscan market.

Attica, however, with Athens at its centre, became the most famous centre for black-figure painting, with over 20,000 surviving vases in this style. Potters in Attica used the excellent iron-rich clay found in the area. The period between 560BC and the inception of red-figure pottery in 530-20BC is considered to be the pinnacle of Athenian black-figure painting. To this period belongs the Amasis Painter and Exekias, the two masters of the technique.

red-figure pottery

The red-figure technique was an Athenian ‘invention’ of the late 6th century BC. It eclipsed to a large degree the black-figure technique, because it allowed the painter greater scope for the rendering of detail, the representation of perspective and for more accurate anatomical expression. Of the Greek red-figure pottery produced in Athens alone, more than 40,000 examples have survived.

The study of Athenian vase painting is indebted to John Beazley, who classified each fragment according to style, a technique which allowed him to detect particular “hands” and to build up a database of Greek potters and painters who lived and worked in Athens during the late 6th and 5th centuries BC. Some fragments included an inscription indicating the specific potter or painter responsible but, more often, Beazley assigned names according to favoured subject-matters, individual characteristics, or after the city in which their most famous pieces now reside. Some of these famous painters include the Andokides Painter, Euphronios, Euthymides, the Berlin and Kleophrades Painters, the Brygos Painter, Douris, Makron, the Orpheus Painter and the Pan Painter.

The other important area of production was in South Italy. There were numerous Greek colonies there, hence the area’s name ‘Magna Graecia’: more than 20,000 vases and fragments have been preserved from this area.

View our full range of replica painted pottery online at https://itsallgreek.co.uk/

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Cycladic gallery

 

The Cyclades are a group of around 30 islands in the Aegean sea, including Naxos and Paros, famous in antiquity for their marble. Cycladic figurines were carved from this marble during the third and second millennia BC, and are among the earliest representations of the human form in western art.

These abstract figures and faces have enormous appeal, due to their simple and evocative form, and their timeless, almost contemporary quality. They have inspired numerous artists, such as Picasso, Modigliani and Moore. Our collection of bronze, marble and keramin figurines and faces is made for us in Greece.

Click here to view more of our Cycladic collection and visit our website.

 

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Testimonials: 2015

 

December 2015, from a new customer in the USA who purchased Alexander the Great cufflinks and a woven ornate shield necklace

Replica ancient Greek jewellery Alexander the Great coin cufflinks in handmade silver available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

Silver Alexander the Great cufflinks


Thank you for the careful packaging. Both pieces have arrived in perfect condition… Again, thank you for the care you’ve taken throughout this process. I’m a customer you will hear from again!


December 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a charioteer ceramic tile

Replica ancient Greek ceramic tile available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

charioteer ceramic tile


I discovered your shop while visiting the British Museum. I have been buying my father’s Christmas presents there for the last five years. Nobody else seems to offer a similar service.


December 2015, from a new customer in the USA who purchased a silver scarab ring

Replica ancient Greek silver scarab ring and jewellery available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

silver scarab ring


Many thanks for the beautiful scarab ring which arrived safely and included the small velvet bag to keep it in. As a lover of all things Greek I am sure that I shall be using your website in the near future.


December 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bronze Sphinx and bronze Zeus statue

Replica ancient Greek bronze Sphinx available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online!

bronze sphinx


Thank you for your email. The statues have indeed arrived intact and very quickly so they are now wrapped up ready for Christmas. They are lovely. Thank you for all of your help! When I’m back in London I will, no doubt be popping into your shop again


December 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased a Athena and Nike coin pendant

Replica ancient Greek coin silver pendant with Athena and Nike available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

silver Athena coin pendant


Thank you for your message – yes the pendant arrived very quickly thank you. It’s a Christmas present and I am sure the recipient will be delighted with it. This was my first order with you and I must say I am very impressed with my It’s All Greek experience. The item is of exceptional quality, was packaged very nicely with a handwritten note and arrived sooner than expected. A masterclass in customer service!

Thanks again,


December 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased an elegant snake ring

Replica ancient Greek snake handmade silver jewellery available to buy at It's All Greek, London and online

silver snake ring


Arrived safely and is currently wrapped under the Christmas tree. Looked fantastic though, excellent quality as always.


December 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bronze hoplite warrior

Replica ancient Greek bronze hoplite warrior statue available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

bronze hoplite warrior


He arrived super quickly and I love him lots. Too many lovely things!

Thank you – excellent service and loved the personal note that came with my hoplite – unusual to get such nice thoughtful customer service and made me feel rather special.

Many thanks and best wishes for the festive season ahead.


December 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a silver octopus brooch/ pendant

Replica ancient Greek sterling silver handmade octopus brooch available to buy from It's All Greek London and online

silver octopus brooch/ pendant


It’s absolutely great and I received it the very next day in the morning. Better than I expected in service and in the product itself. Many thanks.


November 2015, from a repeat customer in the USA who purchased a love knot necklace and a bronze boat

replica ancient Greek bronze boat available to buy online and in London at It's All Greek

bronze boat


Everything arrived in a very timely fashion and I am very pleased with both. The necklace is very beautiful and the boat is exactly as I expected.

Thank you.


November 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased several items including a Pensive Athena wall relief

pensive Athena relief


The three items arrived soon after ordering. They were extremely well packed, little chance of the courier damaging the contents.  Some comments on these items:

“Snapshot…”      The size, form, texture and colour is just right for its installation amongst my other pieces.  I particularly like the sparkly character of the finish, not too much but enough to suggest this is marble.

“Athena…”          As above except it is not sparkly, but that is as I would want it to be for its place with other Greek items.

“Karytid”              The form is excellent.

Today I ordered some items from your Minoan range.  I look forward to the splash of colour they will bring.


October 2015, from a repeat customer in the USA who purchased a Pegasus and Athena coin pendant and serpent earrings

Replica ancient Greek art and replica Greek coin jewellery available to buy at It's All Greek London and online

silver Pegasus coin pendant


The pieces I ordered arrived. They were beautifully packaged, and I love them!…Thanks for the lovely jewellery and the great service!


September 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased a keramin Cycladic figurine

Replica ancient Greek Cycladic art figurine available for sale at It's All Greek London and online

Cycladic figurine


It arrived a few days after I put the order through. I’m impressed with your customer service and prompt delivery.

The statue was really beautiful and exactly how I imagined it. Thank you so much.


September 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased a bronze Cycladic violos figurine

replica ancient Greek bronze Cycladic violos figurine

bronze Cycladic violos figurine


Oh yes it did arrive, thank you, and she was delighted with it! Thank you for the excellent service you’ve provided – the personal touch is so rare these days but it really makes a huge difference.

Kind regards,


September 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a love knot necklace

Replica ancient Greek goddess jewellery with the love knot design

woven bronze with love knot motif necklace


Delighted with the necklace. Very good service as usual. Our best wishes on your move.


September 2015, from a repeat customer in the USA who purchased a geometric pomegranate figurine

Replica ancient Greek hand painted geometric pomegranate available to buy from It's All Greek London and online

painted pomegranate!


The pomegranate arrived in perfect shape and is sitting on our buffet with our other items we bought in Greece. My husband was thrilled with it. Thank you for checking on it’s condition.


August 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a Cycladic figurine

Replica ancient Greek Cycladic art available to buy from It's All Greek online and London

Cycladic contemplation figurine


Yes, it arrived safely and looks very good on my desk. I am very impressed by the service provided and the interest you have taken. Thank you.


August 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased a Minoan octopus stirrup jar

Replica ancient Greek Minoan painted pottery with octopus stirrup jar design, available to buy at It's All Greek London and online

Minoan octopus stirrup jar


It arrived on Tuesday! It was so well packaged I left it intact until it was opened on Friday (birthday). It’s perfect, such a sweet stirrup jar. Thank you for your efficient service.

Kind regards,


August 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bust of an Archaic Kore

Just to let you know that the Archaic Kore arrived yesterday afternoon. She looks well in her new surroundings. Thank you also for your emails and excellent packaging. Good luck in your new premises.


July 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace

Replica ancient Greek marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace available to buy from It's All Greek online

marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace


Dear the ‘It’s All Greek’ team

Nike has just arrived. Thank you for all of your help, she is a wonderful piece.

I’ve attached a few photographs; Proof of a contented customer.


July 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a pair of love-knot earrings

Replica ancient Greek dress jewellery with love knot motif

woven bronxe with love knot motif earrings


Very happy with the product and ,as normal, the service was first class. All the best to everybody in the future


June 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bronze Cycladic violos figurine

Replica ancient Greek bronze Cycladic violos figurine available for sale at It's All Greek and online.

bronze Cycladic violos figurine


I have received the violos cycladic figurine you sent me, safe and sound – thank you very much.

I have it on my desk at work next to a miniature Greek flag I picked up somewhere and it looks great.

happy customer


June 2015, from a new customer in the USA who purchased a kylix and a relief panel

replica ancient Greek replica of a marble fragment of the Parthenon frieze for sale at It's All Greek.

marble fragment of the Parthenon frieze


Greeting from Mazama!

The relief panel and kylix arrived safely, and I am enjoying them both.  I have found a good place to hang the panel, the way the light falls on it at night shows off the relief to good effect.


June 2015, from a repeat customer in Australia who purchased a marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace

Replica ancient Greek marble statue of the Louvre Nike of Samothrace available for sale at It's All Greek online.

marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace


Thank you so much for your email.  Yes, everything arrived here on wednesday.  It is for a present so I hadn’t opened it immediately.  So I checked it this morning, and everything has arrived safely.

I am tempted to to keep Nike for myself, she is beautiful!  But it is his favourite statue at the Lourve, so I am sure he will love this one too.

Good luck with all of your packing, I hope to come over to UK early next year, and hopefully to see you all in your new little shop!


June 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased gold Greek key earrings

replica ancient Greek gold jewellery with Greek key or Meandros pattern available online at It's All Greek.

gold Greek key earrings


The earrings were delivered yesterday. Thank you for the prompt service. Also checked the earrings and I’m sure my wife will be very pleased with them. Thank you once again


June, 2015, from a repeat customer in Hawaii who purchased a bronze Poseidon statue

replica ancient Greek bronze statue of the god Poseidon

bronze statue of Poseidon


Received Poseidon on Monday and it was in perfect condition – both items were wrapped well – and the piece is beautiful!  Mahalo (thanks in Hawaiian).


June, 2015 for a new customer in the UK who purchased a gold effect love knot bracelet

replica ancient Greek gold love knot bracelet inspired by the goddess Athena and the hero Herakles

woven bronze with love knot motif bracelet


The bracelet did arrive and is beautiful! It is perfect for the present I am making!

I liked it so much I will be ordering some earrings from you in the same style.

Thank you SO much for such a fantastic customer service! I have told lots of friends how you saved me!

Have a nice day!


June, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a few red-figure plates! 

replica ancient Greek red-figure hand painted plate available for sale at It's All Greek

red-figure hand painted plate


Thank you for your email. The plates have arrived safely and I am very happy with them.

I hope the move goes well and look forward to visiting your new premises.

With best wishes for the future,


May, 2015 from a new customer in Ireland who purchased a terracotta ram and a bronze Cycladic head!

replica ancient Greek bronze Cycladic head figurine available for sale at It's All Greek, London

bronze Cycladic head


Good evening and greetings.

The Bronze Cycladic head and the terracotta ram both arrived safely. Love the bronze head, really is amazing and the ram is also great.

I would like to thank you for quick and smooth transaction. It was refreshing to have such great service. I have been singing your praises to others.


May, 2015 from a new customer in the UK who purchased a bronze olive wreath.

replica ancient Greek bronze olive wreath

bronze olive wreath on a marble base


Yes the olive wreath has arrived in one piece,  many thanks, It currently looks very elegant on my mantelpiece.


May, 2015 from a new customer in Spain who purchased a pair of Phaistos Disc cufflinks

replica ancient Greek sterling silver Minoan Phaistos disc cufflinks

Minoan Phaistos disc cufflinks


Thanks for your interest. Phaistos Disc cufflinks arrived safely and they are awesome and beautiful! Everything is ok. It was my first online purchase in your shop but I am sure it won´t be the last purchase.


May, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a few owl of Athena coin pendants!

replica ancient Greek sterling silver owl of Athena pendant hand made in Greece available in the UK from It's All Greek

silver owl of Athena pendant


I received my pendants and they’re even better then I expected!

I’ve had several compliments and referred the curious to your store.  One of these days I’m going to get back to London and be able to shop in person.

As always, dealing with It’s All Greek is a complete pleasure.


April, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bust of the Marathon Youth

replica ancient Greek bust of the Marathon Youth available for sale at It's All Greek, London

bust of the Marathon Youth


Yes, the bust arrived in perfect condition, thank you for following up. It is sitting proudly in the living room where we admire it daily.


April, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a red-figure plate

Replica ancient Greek red-figure vase-paintings available for sale in the UK from It's All greek

red-figure plate


Hello!

Apologies for my late reply, the plate arrived safely and was well packaged. As before, I am very pleased with it and I look forward to buying from you again.


April, 2015 from a new customer in the UK who purchased a pair of owl coin earrings

replica ancient Greek sterling silver owl of Athena coin earrings made in Greece

silver owl of Athena coin pendant​

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes, my earrings arrived safely yesterday and I am delighted with them, they are really beautiful!  Thank you so much, I am now looking forward to making my next purchase from you.


April, 2015 from a new customer in France who purchased an Athenian owl coin pendant

replica ancient Greek owl of Athena coin pendant made in Greece from sterling silver

silver owl of Athena coin pendant​


I am proudly wearing this beautiful athenian pendant at the moment!

Thanks for your nice packaging and your little note. It’s always a pleasure when it is done this way! And the shipment was quick too!

It’s not the pendant that makes me Athenian but at least it reminds me that I love their fabulous faith in democracy, art and other nice things


April, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bronze olive wreath

replica ancient Greek bronze olive wreath available from It's All Greek London and online

bronze olive wreath on a marble base


What great service, thank you so much.

And your choice of courier (MyHermes) is not I think accidental. (As far as I am concerned, you ARE the Gods of retail)


March, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a Minoan bull leaping tile 

2 bull-leaping fresco from Knossos

Minoan bull-leaping tile


Yes thank you. It arrived safely last week and looks fantastic…just as I remembered it on the wall in the shop! Wonderful colours and a good representation of the original wall painting. Thanks for getting in touch!


March, 2015 from a new customer in the UK who purchased a marble effect bust of Leonidas

replica ancient Greek busts and statues of the Spartan general Leonidas.

bust of the Spartan general Leonidas


Leonids arrived safely and I must say that I’m very happy with him. The bust looks brilliant and makes a perfect addition to my book shelf! I’ll definitely come back should I be looking for something similar in future.


March, 2015 from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a silver teardrop bracelet as a Mother’s day gift!

replica ancient Greek handmade sterling silver bracelet available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online.

silver teardrop bracelet


Thank you for your help and for checking, of all the companies I deal with you have the best customer services.It has arrived safe and sound and my mum loves it!


March 2015, new customer from the UK who purchased a bust of the Marathon Youth

Replica ancient Greek bronze busts and statues of Ephebe the Marathon Youth available to buy from It's All Greek, London and online

bronze bust of the Marathon Youth


Yes arrived all fine.

Its amazing and the perfect gift. Much better quality and finish than I expected. In fact I may get one for our shelf!

Thanks again!


March 2015, repeat customer from the UK who purchased a bronze kantharosand a bronze mask of Dionysos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the pair in situ at Talliston House and Gardens!


February 2015, repeat customers from Switzerland who purchased several items including a Minoan pithos

replica ancient Greek Minoan octopus vase or pithos available to buy from It's All Greek London and online

Replica Minoan octopus pithos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So pleased to read your email. Yes, the items have arrived and we’re totally delighted! Many thanks for all and hope to see you soon again.


February 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased several marble items including Nike of Samothrace

replica ancient Greek marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace now in the Louvre available to buy from It's All Greek London and online

replica marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

My marble statues arrived intact and beautiful as usual. I have placed the two cherubs at the foot of my limestone fireplace, on either side of the hearth, and the two winged Nikes of Samothrace have been placed on either side on the mantelpiece. It all looks very grand. Thanks.


February 2015, from a new customer in the UK who purchased a bronze statue of Myron’s discus thrower

replica bronze Diskobolos discus thrower of Myron for sale at It's All Greek, London and online

replica bronze Diskobolos discus thrower of Myron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes the discus thrower has arrived safely. My son absolutely loved it- he has it proudly displayed in his bedroom….. Many thanks for all your help with this – your service and personal touch was much appreciated.


February 2015, from a new customer in Australia who purchased a owl of Athena ring and earrings

replica ancient Greek coin jewellery silver ring available from It's All Greek London and online

replica ancient Greek sterling silver owl coin ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thank you for very much for your courtesy follow up. The ring and earrings did arrive safely and look really lovely. My sincere thanks to Louise who took my initial telephone call and who was most helpful in explaining details to me and for processing my order very efficiently.


January 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a contemplation figurine

replica ancient Greek Cycladic contemplation figurine available to buy on It's All Greek online and in London

replica ancient Greek Cycladic contemplation figurine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I received my items yesterday, all delivered safely and I just wanted to let you know I adore both figures. I am extremely satisfied with the service provided and would not hesitate to recommend your shop to friends and family. I will have to start saving my pennies to treat myself to another item in the future 🙂

I hope your business goes from strength to strength as your personal level of customer service is second to none. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.


January 2015, from a new customer in Germany who purchased a bronze Cycladic head

replica ancient Greek bronze Cycladic head figurine available to buy at It's All Greek, London and online

replica ancient Greek bronze Cycladic head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for asking, everything is fine. The parcel arrived even quicker than expected and the contents please me a lot, it is a beautiful piece of art with a remarkable authentic look. So all in all, great compliments and thanks to you.


January 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK purchased the small Uffizi wrestlers

marble replica Uffizi wrestlers at It's All Greek

Replica marble statue of the Uffizi Wrestlers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thank you, yes the Uffizi wrestlers statue arrived safe ad sound, amazingly well packed. It is an excellent small repro and looks great in pride of place atop a low mahogany bookcase.


January 2015, from a repeat customer in the UK who purchased a bust of Homer

replica ancient greek bust of Homer the poet available to buy from It's All Greek London and online

replica ancient greek bust of Homer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Homer arrived safe and well yesterday thank you. Thanks to all that protective wrapping that you put around him and excellent packing.

He is now sitting alongside many of his other Greek friends! Looking good!

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A City, an Owl, and a Goddess

Just before we start, a little introduction by Omicron:
“Hello everyone! Omicron here! Just to let you know that I’ve been allowed to help a bit with this – I picked the pictures and wrote the captions! I hope you enjoy it. Personally it’s all a bit heavy going for me, and my friends at the shop kept interfering – as you can see! -, but then I did get to write a bit – later on! -about my other friends on the Akropolis! Love, Omicron x)

Omicron in mid research

Here is a picture of me preparing ALL of the pictures. It was a lot of hard work, especially because I had all of my owl friends chirping their opinions at me!


The 8th century BC was a period of exploration and expansion in the world of the ancient Greeks. Citizens from cities such as Athens and Corinth took a chance, left their home city – for a variety of reasons – and went in search of the new and the better. They arrived and set up a colony (apoikia)– a home (oikos) from home, usually in areas with echoes of home: a coastline, familiar climate and fertile land for the production of grain, vine and olive. The south of Italy and Sicily was one such area, which in time, with its dense concentration of Greek colonies, became known as ‘Magna Graecia’. The colonists took with them their social structure, their traditions, their religion and their craftsmanship. Trade was brisk between metropolis and colony, and across the Mediterranean and beyond. Pottery and coinage are two media which provide us with ample testimony of this.

black figure olpe with owl

I found this nice picture of an owl on a black figure olpe (posh word for ancient Greek jug) . I liked it because it looks like he was caught on the hop!

Owl skyphoi (drinking cups) were produced in abundance in the 5th and 4th centuries BC in the areas of Apulia and Campania, by vase painters schooled in the inherited tradition of the red-figure technique. But this particular style of owl skyphos (below), shows how the Athenian colonies in south Italy continued to champion their mother city by their choice of iconography. What’s more, this type of skyphos was even given its own ‘brand name’: a ‘glaux’ (owl). These skyphoi have been discovered all over the Mediterranean. Now they are found in museums, auction houses and private collections all over the world. A symbol of ancient Athens in particular – the branches of olive flanking the owl reinforce this -, but for many, the owl is in any case a quintessentially ‘ancient Greek’ symbol.

replica south Italian red figure owl glaux skyphos

Here is a picture of an owl skyphos! They were just talking about it! Or should I say ‘glaux’!!

But there was another ‘glaux’: the owl coin.

Athenian tetradrachm with Athena and owl

So the owl coin is ALSO called a ‘glaux’! It took me a while to work that out……

The image on the skyphos is echoed on the coinage of ancient Athens: those thick, heavy, high-relief coins in silver, which were minted over two millennia ago. The historian Philochorus of Athens, writing in the late 4th century BC, tells us something interesting: this coin too was called a ‘glaux’ throughout the ancient world. Collectors and numismatists today simply call it the ‘owl’.

What of the owl and Athena? Homer in his Odyssey gives the goddess Athena the epithet ‘glaukopis’ – a fusion of ‘glaukos’ (bluish-green/steely grey) and ‘ops’ (eye, or sometimes face). Glaux is from the same root. Maybe because Athena’s flashing eyes were likened to the bird’s own– distinctive and ever alert. Because the owl, like Athena, is known for its vigilance, resourcefulness and perspicacity. Perhaps Homer’s epithet heralds her connection with the owl and with Athens. A triad immortalized in the iconography on the Athenian tetradrachm of the 5th century BC and thereafter.

Athena in conversation with her owl

Here is a picture of Athena, getting some advice from a little owl. As you know, owls are very wise creatures…I really like this picture because the owl looks like me talking to one of the girls at It’s All Greek! (not that they always listen!)

And then there is the olive. On the Akropolis today stands an olive tree near the Erechtheion.

the olive tree at the Erechtheion in Athens

I’ve been here!!!

Athena, along with her uncle Poseidon, was challenged to make a gift to a city – a city hitherto without a name. The West pediment of the Parthenon depicted this dramatic contest: the elemental god of the sea tapped the soil with his trident. A spring of water was his gift to the city. Athena’s coup de grâce was the versatile olive. Thereafter the city was known as Athens and she became its tutelary deity. Uncle Poseidon supported too, as illustrated by the fact that the Erechtheion with its Karyatid porch was constructed in honour of them both.

contest between Athena and Poseidon in the west pediment of the Parthenon

This is amazing isn’t it! You can see Athena and the olive tree, then Poseidon with his trident! Don’t tell Poseidon, but I’m really glad Athena won!!


(Omicron here!! Sorry to interrupt, but I thought you might like a little break! My friends up in the Akropolis say that there are still a lot of little owls there! Even today! The ‘little owl’ is in fact called ‘Athene noctua’! Isn’t that cool! Apparently they’re only about 9 inches tall on tippy talons! Here they are:

pair of Athene noctua owls

They’re really sweet, aren’t they!

On we go!! Love, Omicron x)


So the olive, the owl and Athena are on that famous Athenian glaux coin. The goddess faces right on the obverse, the owl, the olive and the letters Alpha Theta Epsilon on the reverse. The formula – with very few refinements – remained the same.

owl coin pendant on bronze olive

These coins were minted from silver mined at Laurion in Attica. They financed the Parthenon project during the ‘Golden Age’ of Athens in the second half of the 5th century BC. They covered the cost of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. They were handled by Perikles, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Pythagoras, Demokritos, Hippocrates, Sokrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, and so many others whose thinking formed the foundations of Western European civilization.

Aristophanes’ comedy ‘The Birds’, produced in 414BC, presents a fantasy world, where Wisdom, Grace and Love prevail, in preference to a society beleaguered by complex law and litigation. The Leader of the 24-strong Chorus (each a different species of bird) appeals to the judges with these words: “We’d like to say something to the judges, about the good things we shall give them if they award the prize to us: far finer gifts than Paris got for a similar task. Firstly, what every judge desires most of all: owls from Laurion! An inexhaustible supply. They shall nest in your homes and breed in your purses, hatching little coinlings, jingle jingle jingle.’

The Athenian glaux was used in transactions throughout the ancient Greek world, even in cities politically hostile to Athens. It was adopted as a currency by many other city-states throughout the Greek-speaking world, and with the armies of Alexander the Great, it spread to the areas of present day Iran and India which were under Greek influence. This was the first widely used ‘international’ coin. It is still very popular amongst collectors – if you could have only one ancient Greek coin, it would probably be this one: the most important, the most beautiful and the most historically significant.

There is poignant irony that the 1 euro coin issued in Greece has the owl side of the glaux on its reverse.


Author: Elinor Wynne Lloyd (with help from Omicron of course!)  for It’s All Greek (July 2015)

Athena with Herakles from the tondo of a kylix attributed to Douris

Spot the owl!

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Jewellery gallery

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