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 Persepolis, they are shown on Greek vases of the late fifth century BC and continued to be used after the end of the Achaemenid period.

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Dimensions

Height: 10.200 cm (gold)
Height: 10.200 cm (gold)

Museum number

ME 116411

WCO25008

Location

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