With fangs bared and ears laid back, the forepart of an attacking lynx leaps from the curving body of this gilt silver rhyton. The animal is modeled in vigorous detail, with outstretched paws and hair locks accentuated in triangular engravings. The animal’s collar may indicate that it was sacred to the wine-god Dionysos, and this type of vessel was designed for drinking. Wine poured into the top came out of the spout between the lynx’s legs, and flowed directly into the drinker’s mouth or another vessel.

Stylistic features suggest that this rhyton was made in northwest Iran in the first century B.C. Iran had been part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great. After his death in 323 B.C., the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty, whose kingdom stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan, ruled the area. In the later third century B.C., however, a group of semi-nomadic people from the steppes of south central Asia called the Parthians began challenging the weakened Seleucid authority in the eastern part of their territory. By the first century B.C., the Parthians ruled the area. This complicated political history left its legacy in the local art and material culture. This rhyton's form, with its slender horn, is Persian, but the lynx is Greek, and the Aramaic inscription on the lip suggests a Parthian owner.


  • Title: Lynx Rhyton (Left profile)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 100–1 B.C.
  • Location Created: Eastern Seleucid Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 24.5 × 41.9 × 12.2 cm, 0.678 kg (9 5/8 × 16 1/2 × 4 13/16 in., 1.4948 lb.)
  • Type: Rhyton
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Gilt silver
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 86.AM.752.1
  • Culture: Near Eastern (Parthian)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Vessels (Containers)

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