Gold and silver
horn-shaped drinking cup
Achaemenid, 5th century BC
Said to come from Marash, Syria
This silver and gold vessel was purchased by the archaeologist Leonard
Woolley in Aleppo.
The relationship of the gold to the silver is unclear, as the junction
between the two was severely damaged. For this reason the proportions of
the present reconstruction are uncertain. The vessel was made in two
parts, but unlike rhyta there is no hole in the front of the animal's
chest and it therefore could not have functioned as a pourer.
Instead it may have been used as a drinking cup.
The vessel dates to the time of the great Achaemenid empire of the sixth
to fourth centuries BC.
The empire was created by
Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC),
and Persian control stretched from Egypt and the Aegean to Afghanistan and
the Indus Valley.
Vessels of precious metal were widespread at this time,
and the rhyton seems to have been a particularly distinctive form. While a
wide variety of styles and forms was known thoughout the Achaemenid empire
- not surprisingly, in view of its great size - there was also a
recognizably Achaemenid style, perhaps promoted outside Iran by satraps
(provincial governors) and other representatives of the Persian court.
This rhyton is an example of Achaemenid court art.Although vessels of this
type were not depicted on the reliefs at the Persian centre of
they are shown on Greek vases of the late fifth century BC and continued
to be used after the end of the Achaemenid period.
Height: 10.2 cm (gold)
Height: 22.9 cm (silver)