Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99
Diameter: 11.200 cm
Height: 13.300 cm
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Amlash culture, about 1400-900 BC
From north-west Iran
This silver beaker belongs to the so-called Amlash culture of Gilan province in north-west Iran. This was one of the most distinctive Iranian cultures of the late second and early first millennia BC. The beaker probably came from the region of Marlik Tepe. Here, in one of the richest cemeteries of the region, fifty three intact tombs were excavated in 1961-62. Vessels similar to this one were found there, and indeed gold and silver beakers with concave sides formed a prominent part of the material from the cemetery. The decoration on this beaker consists of horses flanking a stylized tree on the upper register, and winged lions attacking rams on the lower: both friezes are defined by herring-bone and guilloche.
The graves of Marlik Tepe provide evidence of a rich and flourishing culture that is essentially local in inspiration. Large pottery figurines, both humans and animals, are particularly characteristic. Some comparisons can be made with Assyrian material, but contact between the two areas may have been indirect.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
J.E. Curtis, Later Mesopotamia and Iran (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)