The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bowl with Anchor and Dolphin Medallion

Object Details


Bowl with Anchor and Dolphin Medallion




Near Eastern (Parthian)


100–1 B.C.


Silver; gilding

Object Number:



4.3 × 18.5 cm, 0.4078 kg (1 11/16 × 7 5/16 in., 0.899 lb.)

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Object Description

The motifs that decorate this silver bowl tell the story of where and when it was made--by a silversmith in the 100s B.C. in the present-day area of northwest Iran.

Iran had been part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until Alexander the Great conquered it. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty, whose kingdom stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan, ruled this area. In the later 200s B.C., the Parthians, a group of semi-nomadic people from the steppes of south central Asia, began challenging the weakened Seleucid regime. After an indecisive military campaign, the Parthians and the Seleucids ruled Iran jointly in an alliance that lasted from the closing years of the 200s B.C. through the first three decades of the 100s B.C.

The decoration of this bowl reflects that short-lived period. The inverted anchor in the central medallion was a symbol of the Seleucid dynasty, and the dolphin was a symbol for the Parthians. The intertwined symbols on this bowl testify to the delicate politics of Iran in the early 100s B.C.

- 1981

Antike Kunst Palladion (Basel, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981.

Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004

Pfrommer, Michael. "Überlegungen zur Baugeschichte des Naiskos im Apollontempel zu Didyma." Istanbuler Mitteilungen 37 (1987), p. 175, 176, ill. fig. 9.

Pfrommer, Michael. Metalwork from the Hellenized East. Catalogue of the Collections. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 110-11, no. 1.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 94.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 92.