Illustrated introduction to Mesopotamia, £8.99
Weight: 937.300 g
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Sasanian, about 5th-7th century AD
A spectacular royal Sasanian lion hunt
This silver bowl represents a Sasanian king undertaking the traditional ancient Near Eastern royal sport of lion hunting. Although it is not known for certain which king is depicted it is often possible to identify Sasanian rulers by their distinctive personal crowns. These are depicted on certain coins and sculptures which also give the king's name. The crown worn by this king is similar to that worn by Varahran V (also known as Bahram Gur) (AD 420-38). This would be appropriate since later tradition recorded heroic tales of his wild animal hunts. Such scenes were, though, always popular in Sasanian art.
About AD 224 the Parthians were defeated by Ardashir, a descendant of Sasan who gave his name to the new Sasanian dynasty. They were to rule Iran for over 400 years and saw themselves as the successors to the Achaemenid Persians. By the end of the third century their empire stretched from the Euphrates to the Indus and included Armenia and Georgia. The expansion of Sasanian power brought them into conflict with Rome and later Byzantium in the west.
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)