Please note: The Museum buildings will be closed on Thursday, July 4, for Independence Day. The Museum Park will be open dawn to dusk.

Ancient Greek, Italian, and Roman

The ancient Greek, Italian, and Roman collection (“classical art”) at the NCMA provides visitors with a survey of art covering more than 3,000 years and much of the Mediterranean. It comprises works of art from ancient Greece at different periods: Cycladic, Mycenaean, Geometric, and Classical, which features the greatest number of objects. The ancient cultures of the Villanovans and Etruscans in what is now Italy are also represented alongside works of art from different parts of the Roman Empire. The collection also includes art from ancient Cyprus, an island controlled at various times by other powers in the Mediterranean, including the Greeks and Romans.
Greek, Chalcidian, Eye Cup (Kylix), circa 525—500 BCE, ceramic with black glaze and added red paint, H. 3 3/4 × Diam. 11 3/8 × W. (including handles) 15 3/8 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation


While not a strict chronological overview of the art of ancient Greece, Italy, and Rome, the collection does represent major developments in sculpture and stylistic differences in ceramic decoration (mostly presented by area or culture in the galleries). Visitors may note how differently the human figure has been interpreted by comparing the Cycladic Female Figurine, the Mycenaean Figurine of a Woman Holding a Child, and the Greek Torso of Aphrodite, a form later adopted by the Romans (Statue of Aphrodite Anadyomene [Cyrene Type]).

In addition to regional differences, the influence of other Mediterranean civilizations—such as ancient Egypt—is often visible in Greek, Roman or Cypriot art, attesting not only to the cultural and commercial exchanges throughout the region, but also to the Greek colonization of North Africa and Western Asia during the Hellenistic period and the vastness of the Roman Empire. In this regard, compare the Figure of a Youth from Cyprus with the Egyptian Figure of a Man, and note the Greek Hydria (probably from Egypt) as well as the Egypto-Roman statuette of Aphrodite-Isis.


Many works of art also illustrate the well-known ancient gods (Statue of Bacchus), goddesses (Minerva), and heroes (Herakles), still familiar to us thousands of years later. Learn more and go behind the scenes with the Bacchus Conservation Project.

Note: The North Carolina Museum of Art uses the designation BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) rather than BC/AD (Before Christ/Anno Domini) when dating its ancient collections that are not rooted in the Christian tradition.

Ancient Greek, Italian, and Roman Highlights


Funerary Vase (Lebes Gamikos)

(circa 250—225 B.C.E.)

Steiner Master

Female Figurine

(circa 2500—2400 B.C.E.)

Three Line Group

Neck Amphora

(circa 530—520 B.C.E.)


Portrait of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius

(late 2nd century)


Trefoil-Mouthed Oinochoe

(3rd—4th century)


Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess

(1st century)

Syriskos Painter


(circa 470—460 B.C.E.)

Reed Painter

White-Ground Lekythos

(circa 450—400 B.C.E.)


Intaglio Ring with Scene of Nike and Trophy

(4th—3rd century B.C.E.)



(1st—2nd century)


Figure of a Youth

(5th century B.C.E.)



(2nd century)



(2nd century)

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