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 with 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 animal'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 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 art and material culture of the area. 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.