Vapheio Cups works of Mycenaean-Minoan art


This pair of golden cups decorated with reliefs featuring bulls were found at Vapheio, an ancient site in Laconia, Greece, famous for its tholos tomb.

Both are one-handled cups with flaring straight sides. The first cup depicts a peaceful capturing of a bull: a man ties a rope around its leg while the bull was mating; also depicts three grazing bulls.

The second cup displays a more violent scene, with a bull caught in a net while another attacks two hunters. The cups appear to be imported from Crete where bulls were considered to be sacred.


The naturalistic composition is added via repoussé, a technique in which the relief is made by hammering the reverse side of the metal.

The two cups were most likely made by the same craftsman although the first one is of better quality and are the most perfect works of Mycenaean-Minoan art.