Apulian stemless cup (fragment) depicting a processional dancer bringing cake offerings, c. 350-325 BCE.
The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, Reading. acc. no. 22.3.24
In ancient Greece, bringing offerings to gods and goddesses, or deified heroes, and/or ancestors was a key part of cultic rituals. Sacred offerings, overall, were divided into three main groups of burnt (or blood) sacrifices (sacrificial animals), unburnt sacrifices (boughs, grains, pieces of bread, and cakes), and libations (wine or water to pour down). The female worshipper depicted in the tondo of this cup is striding rhythmically in a processional dance while carrying two sorts of cake offerings. She has a large bowl containing an amphiphon cheesecake topped with little torches on her left hand (to the viewer) and a kokkora, a small cheese-doughnut shaped like pomegranate seed and usually decorated with fruits and nuts, here with a fig in its central depression and two (wal)nuts on sides, suggesting a whole row of nuts all around the central fig. The amphiphon was consecrated to Artemis as the moon goddess in her nocturnal worship as the light-giving deity. The kokkora symbolised Persephone, the spring goddess, and her coming back from the underworld which prompted the rebirth of the whole nature. The painting, therefore, corresponds with the Mounichia, the spring festival of Artemis in the Athenian month Mounichion (April/May) which took place in her sanctuary on the top of the Mounichia hill near Athens.