This fine gold jug with a lion-headed handle is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of silver and gold to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure, probably from a temple on the banks of the Oxus River, mainly dates from the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Some of the objects in the treasure were votive deposits while other objects in precious metals, such as this jug, were dedicated to the temple. Another possibilty is that the Oxus treasure should be viewed as a hoard of currency. There was a long tradition in the ancient Middle East of using precious metal, gold and particularly silver, for purposes of exchange. Goods - even when finely wrought - were valued according to the weight of metal. Metal continued to be used for currency even after the introduction of coinage.