National Museum, Athens

Bowl with stylized mourning figurines. This deep bowl, called a lekane, was found in a Mycenaean cemetery at Perati on the east coast of Greece. Dating roughly to 1200 B.C., the figurines are probably prototypes of the mourning figurine found at Tell ‘Aitun in Israel.

From the center of each of the two handles, a cylindrical stem rises to support a shallow cup that adheres to the lekane rim. Each solid clay figurine wears a long dress and is attached to the rim of the vessel with a peg in its foot. In the classic gestures of women mourners in ancient art, the hands of these figures express pain, grief and despair: they clutch their heads and tear their hair.

The similarities between these Mycenaean figures and the Philistine example elsewhere in this article demonstrate the transfer of Mycenaean culture to the eastern Mediterranean basin by the Sea Peoples. Although the style of the Philistine figurine is naturalistic compared to the schematic Mycenaean figures, all have certain features in common: they are mounted on the rims of deep vessels found in burials; they wear long dresses; and their hands clutch their heads in classic gestures of mourning.