Group of Drinking Vessels
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Parthian, 100 - 1 B.C.
Gilt silver, semiprecious stones, garnet, and glass


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A large rhyton and four bowls or cups form a group of silver vessels. The rhyton and bowls were made around the same time, but they come from different areas of the Near East. While most of the vessels are Parthian, the deep cup with relief decoration appears to have originated in Bactria. In the first century B.C., the main East-West trade route ran through Bactria and Parthia. The cup, therefore, probably reached Parthia as a trade item. Although the vessels were not made as a set, they appear to have been gathered together in antiquity, not just assembled by a collector in modern times. The green oxidation pattern on the horn of the rhyton suggests that it was buried with the shallow bowl upside down on top of it. The vessels formed part of the tableware of a rich nobleman. These were drinking vessels, which he would have used on special occasions with similarly elaborate serving vessels. This silver may have been buried with the owner upon his death, or the pieces might have been buried as a hoard in a time of danger and not subsequently reclaimed.

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