Krater discovered on the acropolis of Mycenae, depicting fully armed warriors, date 1200-1100 BC. Located in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
|Created||Multiple cultures, originating predominantly in Greece and exported.|
|Period/culture||A vaseform of the Bronze Age and the Iron Age|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kraters|
Form and function 
At a Greek symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the room. They were quite large, so they were not easily portable when filled. Thus, the wine-water mixture would be withdrawn from the krater with other vessels. In fact, Homer's Odyssey describes a steward drawing wine from a krater at a banquet and then running to and fro pouring the wine into guests' drinking cups. The modern Greek word now used for undiluted wine, krasi (κρασί), originates from the krasis (κράσις, i.e. mixing) of wine and water in kraters. Kraters were glazed on the interior to make the surface of the clay more impervious for holding water, and possibly for aesthetic reasons, since the interior could easily be seen.
At the beginning of each symposium a symposiarch (συμποσίαρχος), or "lord of the common drink", was elected by the participants. He would then assume control of the wine servants, and thus of the degree of wine dilution and how it changed during the party, and the rate of cup refills. The krater and how it was filled and emptied was thus the centerpiece of the symposiarch's authority. An astute symposiarch should be able to diagnose the degree of inebriation of his fellow symposiasts and make sure that the symposium progressed smoothly and without drunken excess.
Wine dilution 
Drinking ákratos (undiluted) wine was considered a severe faux pas in ancient Greece, enough to characterize the drinker as a drunkard and someone who lacked restraint and principle. Ancient writers prescribed that a mixing ratio of 1:3 (wine to water) was optimal for long conversation, a ratio of 1:2 when fun was to be had, and 1:1 was really only suited for orgiastic revelry, to be indulged in very rarely, if at all. Since such mixtures would produce an unpalatable and watery drink if applied to most wines made in the modern style, this practice of the ancients has led to speculation that ancient wines might have been vinified to a high alcoholic degree and sugar content, e.g. by using dehydrated grapes, and could withstand dilution with water better. Such wines would have also withstood time and the vagaries of transportation much better. Nevertheless the ancient writers offer scant details of ancient vinification methods, and therefore this theory, though plausible, remains unsupported by evidence.
Forms of kraters 
Column krater 
Calyx krater 
Volute krater 
This type of krater, defined by volute-shaped handles, was inventd in Laconia in the early 6th century BC, then adopted by Attic potters. Its production was carried on by Greeks in Apulia until the end of the 4th century BC.
Bell krater 
Metal kraters 
According to many scholars[who?] the ceramic kraters imitated shapes designed initially for metal exemplars. Among the largest and most famous metal kraters in antiquity were one in the possession of the Samian tyrant Polycrates, and another one dedicated by Croesus to the Delphic oracle. There are a few extant Archaic bronze kraters (or often only their handles), almost exclusively of the volute-type. Their main production centres were Sparta, Argos and Corinth, in Peloponnesus. During the Classical period the Volute-type continued to be very popular along with the calyx-type, and beside the Corinthian workshop an Attic one was probably active. Exquisite exemplars of both volute- and calyx-kraters come from Macedonian 4th century BC graves. Among them the Derveni krater represents an exceptional chef d’œvre of the Greek toreutics. The Vix bronze crater, found in a Celtic tomb in central France is the largest known Greek krater.