Achaemenid Silver Libation Bowl (For Wine)


ca. 500–330 BCE. Ancient Near East, Achaemenid, Persian Empire. A gorgeous libation bowl used for holding wine known as a phiale that exhibits a slightly compressed mastoid form composed of nearly pure (99.8%) silver. The center of the basin displays a rounded, protruding boss called an omphalos that is believed to have symbolized the navel of the earth, the central point of power around which all things revolved. The exterior walls are decorated with several vertical ribs surmounted by semicircular rungs brought forth in repousse, and a light indentation around the rim exterior enabled the drinker to maintain a firm grasp on the vessel. Lustrous patina has formed across the vessel and create an attractive and reflective presentation. Libation bowls, known as phiale, were used across a wide geographical area – from Greece to Tibet, throughout the ancient Near East and Central Asia. These shallow bowls for holding wine in ritual and ceremonial settings were made from many materials – glass, ceramic, and many kinds of metal. Royal vessels were made of precious metals, like this one. They functioned both as tableware and as wealth – they could be stored in the royal treasury or given as gifts to people they were hoping to influence.

Size: L:40mm / W:170mm ; 277g

Provenance: Private East Coast, USA collection.

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