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A three-handled water jar used for drawing water, as cinerary urns and as ballot boxes.

Shape: It has a vertical handle at the back for dipping, carrying , or pouring, and two horizontal handles set on the sides for lifting. In size, hydriai correspond to amphorae. There are two distinct types of hydria: one where the neck is set off from the body, called a neck hydria; and the other where the neck and body form a continuous curve.

History: The tall slim version, called a loutrophoros-hydria, a ritual vessel, had a long and early history in Athens, but the more typical variety- the one with the globular body and cylindrical neck- appears to have been borrowed from Corinth in the early sixth century B.C. In Attica a modified version develops in the middle sixth century B.C.; the shoulder becomes progressively flatter, with the neck set off from the body, and this becomes the standard black-figure type. This style lasts into the second quarter of the fifth century B.C.

A related shape, the kalpis, is also commonly used to carry water. Vessels of this shape often appear in vase-painting, usually depicting women drawing water at a fountain-house (but this does not preclude their being used for other purposes). In a representation on the Francois vase (Troilos being pursued by Achilles) a jar of this shape, with its neck set off from the body, is inscribed "hydria". They were also used as cinerary urns, as attested by the cemetery at Hadra, near Alexandria, where many were found containing the ashes of the dead. They were also used as ballot boxes, into which names were placed.

Term: The name hydria is satisfactorily attested for this type of vessel, as is the name kalpis.

    Aristoph. Lys. 327, 358 uses the words kalpis and hydria interchangeably; see also Plutarch, Demetrios 53. But no further information is given regarding their forms. About hydria as ballot boxes, see: Xen. Hell. 1.7.9; Isoc. 17.33; Korinna, Frag. 4, I.20.

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