Relief decoration of lotus petals covers the sides of this gilt silver amphora-rhyton. Rampant lion griffins--monstrous creatures in the form of winged lions with goat's horns--form the handles. The vessel comes from the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which covered a huge territory spanning the entire modern Middle East, from Turkey east to India and south to Egypt. This vessel reflects the empire's vast scale and cosmopolitan nature. The shape of the vessel, the lion griffins forming the handles, and the rosette on the bottom are characteristic of the art made in the Persian heartland, while the lotus decoration on the body is drawn from Egyptian art.
Amphora-rhyta are rare and few have survived from antiquity. Although the vessel takes the shape of an elongated amphora, a form used to store liquids, a spout projects from one side of the rounded bottom, making the vessel a rhyton. The term rhyton comes from the Greek verb meaning "to run through." Rhyta were used to aerate wine as it was poured into a drinking vessel.