drinking horn (rhyton) with partial gilding
Achaemenid, 5th-4th century BC
Said to be from near Erzincan, eastern Turkey
This elaborate silver vessel would originally have been used both
as a drinking cup and as a pourer for wine.
It was made in two parts and is decorated with the head and
forequarters of a griffin.
The pair of holes in the griffin's chest could be closed
by the drinker's fingers, or opened to allow the wine to
flow through. The wings and other parts are gilded.
Vessels of precious metal were widespread at this time.
The horn-shaped rhyton terminating in an animal's head was a particularly
This example has a griffin very like those on a large gold
bracelet from the Oxus Treasure.
While a wide variety of styles and forms existed thoughout the Achaemenid
empire, because of its great size,there was also a recognizably Achaemenid
This was perhaps promoted outside Iran by satraps
(provincial governors) and other representatives of the Persian court.
This rhyton is an example of the art of the Achaemenid court.
Although vessels of this type were not depicted on
the reliefs at the Persian centre of Persepolis,
they are shown in use on Greek vases of the late 5th century BC,
and indeed the form was copied by the Greek potters.
Such vessels continued to be used after the end of the Achaemenid period.
Height: 23 cm
Diameter: 13.4 cm