Athena holding spear and aphlaston (a symbol of naval victory)
Athena holds the curved stern of a trireme (warship) with a decorative attachment at the end. Following a rich strike of silver in Attica, the Athenian commander Themistokles persuaded the assembly to use the financial windfall to build a navy. By 480 B.C., Athens was able to provide the largest contingent of ships when the Greeks faced and defeated the Persians in a naval battle at Salamis. The Athenian navy came to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, and this vase may commemorate a victory at sea.