Cast silver statuette from the Oxus treasure


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

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This statuette is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure, probably from a temple on the banks of the river Oxus, dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The figure wears a Persian head-dress, but his nakedness shows Greek influence. Contact between Persia and Greece in this period was actually characterized by the conflict of the Persian Wars, well-known in the West through the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus (about 485-425 BC). The revolt against Persia of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor was followed by the attack launched by the Persian king, Darius I, in 490 BC. He was defeated outside Athens on the Plain of Marathon. Darius' successor, Xerxes, renewed the conflict in 480 BC, defeating the Spartans at the pass of Thermopylae, but much of the Persian navy was destroyed in the straits of Salamis. The following year the Persian army was defeated at the battle of Plataea. Subsequently Greek ideas began to permeate the Near East, and these included the representation of idealized naked men.

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  • Title: Cast silver statuette from the Oxus treasure
  • Date Created: -499/-400
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 29.20cm; Height: 1.00cm (lower base); Width: 5.30cm (lower base); Length: 5.70cm (lower base); Weight: 1852.50g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast; chased; gilded; pierced
  • Registration number: 1897,1231.4
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Takht-i Kuwad
  • Period/culture: Achaemenid
  • Material: silver; gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Franks, Augustus Wollaston. Previous owner/ex-collection Cunningham, Alexander. From Burton, Francis Charles