In the Late Geometric and Orientalizing periods, storage vessels with elaborate relief decoration were produced in several Aegean islands, most notably the northern Cyclades, Crete and Rhodes. This article interprets the amphora-shaped relief pithos as a function of prevailing social, economic and living conditions. It is argued that rather than being inspired by funerary or votive uses, the relief pithoi of the Tenian-Boeotian group are the material expression of the vital importance of food storage, which not only ensured subsistence but was an essential prerequisite for social differentiation. Relief pithoi were a form of conspicuous storage. Against this background, the unique iconography of the Tenian-Boeotian pithoi is revisited and the enigmatic fallen warrior on the Mykonos Pithos identified as a possible role model for seventh-century aristocrats.