Bull-shaped rhyton

Unknown"1450-1200 BC" - ""

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art
Athens, Greece

Bull-shaped rhyton with painted decoration in the so-called "Base Ring" style. Rhytons were perfomrated ritual vessels with one opening for filling the interior with some kind of liquid and one hole for its outflow (this example has a large opening on the back of the head and a smaller hole on the muzzle). They were used for offering libations (wine, olive oil) to the gods and are found frequently in sanctuaries but also in graves. They were widespread throughout the Near East and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age, although their shape varies from region to region. Zoomorphic rhytons were particularly popular in Cyprus. Indeed, those in the shape of a bull are considered to be distinctively Cypriot creations (even though they are common in Crete, too). The bull was one of the paramount religious symbols of Eastern Mediterranean peoples in the Late Bronze Age. It was linked with fertility as well as with supernatural strength. It frequently assumed the form of major male deities, such as Apis in Egypt, Anu in Mesopotamia, El in Canaan, etc. In Minoan Crete it developed into a symbol of both religious and royal authority. In Cyprus, the religious connotations of the bull are attested already from the Early Bronze Age, when clay bucrania were placed on top of sanctuary models. They become even more obvious in the Late Bronze Age with the production of several bull rhyta and the adornment of altars with stone or clay bull horns.


  • Title: Bull-shaped rhyton
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Creator Gender: None
  • Date Created: "1450-1200 BC" - ""
  • Provenance: Unknown
  • Physical Dimensions: w160 x h150 mm
  • Period: Late Bronze Age
  • Culture: Cypriot
  • Type: rhyton
  • Rights: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, Th.N. Zintilis Collection, no. 397, http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=25&clang=1
  • External Link: Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • Medium: clay

Additional Items

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps