Grecian urn

Accession Number ART30402
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 22 x 24 x 24 cm (approx.)
Object type Applied Art
Physical description ceramic and pigment
Maker Unknown
Place made Greece
Date made 6th century BC
Conflict Pre 19th century

Item copyright: Status to be assessed


This Greek Corinthian bi-chrome lidded pyxis (urn) was donated to the Commonwealth Government on 29 July 1946, presented by the Vice-President of Australian-Greek League (Athens) Mr Anargyros Stratigos to Prime Minister Chifley. The urn contains soil from the graves of Australians buried in the cemetery at Kalamaki outside Athens. The contents are historically significant to the Greeks because the 3,000-year-old tradition of gifting soil to another country was a symbol of capitulation. In this instance, however, it was a symbol of friendship and recognition of the valiant efforts of Australian soldiers who fought and died in Greece.

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Australia (dated 23 August, 1947, Athens), the Prime Minister of Greece stated: "The Greek people will always remember with deep emotion the unparalleled heroism of the Australian soldiers, who, in the dark hours of our recent history, fought against the common enemy in Greece and Crete in comradeship with our soldiers. The Australian soldiers who are buried in Greece are the everlasting symbol of the friendship between our two countries and of the heroic contribution of Australia in the struggle for liberty and justice."

Related information