A stag-shaped Parthian drinking horn. 1 of about 4 similar horns currently on view at the Getty, I believe. 

Made of silver, gold, glass, and garnet, this stunning drinking vessel dates from 50 BC- AD 50.

The forepart of a stag emerges from the curving body of this gilt silver rhyton. The stag is very naturalistic and highly detailed, down to the rendering of veins in the snout. The wide inlaid eyes and the outstretched legs heighten the realism as the stag seemingly bolts in flight. The term rhyton comes from the Greek verb meaning “to run through,” and depictions of rhyta on Greek vases show that they were used to aerate wine. Wine poured into the top of the vessel came out of a spout between the animal’s legs. The spout on this example is now missing, but the hole remains visible.

Stylistic features suggest that this rhyton was made in northwest Iran in the period from 50 B.C. to A.D. 50. This region had been part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until Alexander the Great’s conquest. After his death in 323 B.C., the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty, whose kingdom stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan, ruled this area. As Seleucid authority began to weaken In the later 200s B.C., a group of semi-nomadic people called the Parthians, from the steppes of south central Asia, challenged the dynasty and by the mid-100s B.C. had firm control of this area of Iran. This complicated political history left its legacy in the art of the area. Rhyta of this form had a long history in earlier art of Iran, but the floral motifs were drawn from Seleucid art. (getty)

Courtesy of & currently located at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California. Via their online collections86.AM.753.


Three ancient Greek and Etruscan pottery vessels depicting Africans. 

top left: Terracotta vase of a Black African youth’s head 4th Century BCE - Etruscan/Classical Period - Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

top right: Terracotta Aryballos in the form of the head of an African. Greece, c480 to c430 BCE. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 

above: Terracotta Rhyta in the form of black youth and crocodile. Some a are known from the workshop of the Athenian potter Sotades, and examples have been found in Italy. Greece, c350 to 300 BCE. Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

PHOKIS, Delphi. 5th century BC. AR Tridrachm (25mm, 18.26 g). Two rhyta (drinking vessels) in the form of ram’s heads; above, two dolphins swimming toward each other; ΔAΛΦ-I-KON in small letters below; all within beaded border / Quadripartite incuse square in the form of a coffered ceiling; each coffer decorated with a dolphin and laurel spray.

We come this week to a coin that is considered to be one of the most important historical, religious, and architectural artifacts from the Greek world. Struck in Delphi, the so-called “navel of the world,” this coin is thought to show two drinking vessels shaped like the heads of rams on the obverse, and is commonly associated with the Greek defeat of  the Persians in 479 BCE. The reverse is thought to show the actual ceiling of the temple of Apollo at Delphi on the reverse.

This attribution has raised some questions, but it is believed that the Persian treasure from the campaign was dedicated at Delphi and the frequent repetition of dolphins, associated with Apollo Delphinios, the particular god of Delphi, has strengthened these claims.

This is a very rare denomination (tetradrachms are most  common, along with didrachms and drachms) and a very rare coin. Less than twenty are known to still exist.


Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

Assyrian animal shaped vessels -Rhytons- from the archaeological site of Kültepe, ancient city of Kanesh, Anatolia, Turkey (21st - 18th centuries BC).

Kültepe became a key centre of culture and commerce between Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia during the first quarter of the 2nd millennium BC. Assur, the capital of the Old Assyrian Kingdom, established one of the largest trade network the world had ever seen at Kanesh (Karum Kanesh). A huge assortment of artefacts from the Assyrian colony period have been recovered in the excavations at the site.

The word rhyton comes from the Greek rhyta, meaning “to run through.” Rhytons featured a filler hole at the top and a hole at the bottom so that the liquid could flow through them. They were used in religious ceremonies such as libations. Rhytons in the form of animal heads or horns are believed to have originated in Persia. Their spread to other civilisations was by the ancient Silk Roads of Central Asia and by Persian military campaigns. Rhytons were also used by the Minoans and Mycenaens in the Bronze Age.

“The Assyrian exhibit”, Anatolian Civilizations Museum, Ankara, Turkey