The well-preserved ruins of a 5th century BC home from the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica, today’s Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, have been discovered during rescue digs together with numerous artifacts, which include an Attica red-figure pottery krater (a large ceramic wine vessel) depicting the myth about Oedipus and the Sphinx. The rescue excavations were led by archaeologists Pavlina Devlova and Iliya Kirov from the National Museum of History in Sofia.

The 5th century BC red-pottery krater depicting Oedipus and the Sphinx was discovered underneath the foundations of a 1826 home, in a dig that also contained pottery and coins from both the Antiquity period and the Middle Ages.

“[We have] exposed a well preserved structure with a rectangular shape (a residence) with materials from the end of the 6th – 5th century BC."

They add that they have also discovered three pits hewn into the rocks from the Classical Period of Ancient Greece containing materials from the 5th – 4th century BC.

“During the archaeological excavations, [we have found] numerous items which belonged to the ancient residents of Apollonia Pontica."

The artifacts in question include imported luxury ceramics, red-figure pottery, sgraffito pottery, pottery lamps, loom weights, spindle parts, coins, amphora seals, an arrow coin (more arrow coins were discovered in Bulgaria’s Sozopol in 2016), ceramic game pieces, adornments.

The krater is probably the most impressive find from the 2017 rescue excavations and it has now been unveiled to the public in the 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.
The krater in question was produced following an Ancient Greek decoration style known as red-figure pottery, which was in use between the 6th and the 3rd century BC. Red-figure ceramics were produced primarily on the Attica Peninsula as well as in Southern Italy and Etruria.

According to the Oedipus myths, the Sphinx, a mythical creature with a human head and a lion’s body, guarded the entrance to the Ancient Greek city of Thebes. The Sphinx would ask travelers a riddle to let them pass, and would strangle and devour those who would fail to give the right answer.
Her riddle was, “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?”

Oedipus, the son of Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, answered her riddle correctly by saying, “Man – who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age".

In addition to the 5th century BC Attica krater depicting Oedipus and the Sphinx, another intriguing and well preserved ceramic vessels discovered in the latest excavations on the Skamni Peninsula in Bulgaria’s Sozopol is a ceramic askos, an ancient vessel with a specific shape used for pouring small amounts of liquids.