Bowl with Leaf Calyx Medallion

Object Details


Bowl with Leaf Calyx Medallion




Near Eastern (Parthian)


Eastern Hellenistic Empire (Place created)


2nd - 1st century B.C.


Silver with gilding


4.9 × 19.8 cm, 0.2607 kg (1 15/16 × 7 13/16 in., 9/16 lb.)

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The decoration of this Parthian silver bowl reflects the political turmoil of the area of Iran where it was made in the second or first century B.C. A star formed with acanthus and long, pointed leaves emerging from a rosette decorates the interior of the bowl. Just below the lip, a frieze of stepped battlements encircles the interior of the cup.

Iran was 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. By the mid-100s B.C., the Parthians had firm control of this area of Iran.

Throughout these political changes, artists retained stylistic traits of earlier regimes. Although probably made in a time of established Parthian control, this bowl incorporates elements of Achaemenid Persian and Hellenistic Greek art in its decoration. The leaf calyx was one of the most popular motifs in Hellenistic metalwork, and the stepped battlement pattern was a common motif in Achaemenid art.

- 1981

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


Pfrommer, Michael. Metalwork from the Hellenized East. Catalogue of the Collections. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 120-21, no. 6.

Treister, Mikhail Yu. "Phalerae from Stanica Uspenskaja (To the Question of the Chronology of Appearance of Large Shoulder Phalerae of the Hellenistic Period)", Il Mar Nero 7 (2007/2009), p.71.