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Ram-Shaped Vessel

c. 1350–1000 B.C.E.

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art

The rhyton is another example of a common ceramic type in the early Near East. Ram-headed rhytons, or drinking vessels originally based on animal horns, are common in the arts of northern Iran during the Late Bronze Age. This culture is called Marlik, after a tomb site in northern Iran, or more generally Amlash, after the town where such rhytons were first found. There are numerous other kinds of animals represented in Amlash ceramics, including horses, bulls, camels, monkeys, mountain sheep, and antelopes. Animal art was one of the finest creations of the nomadic people inhabiting the Iranian plateau. The Marlik tombs also included fine metal drinking vessels. The Dallas Museum of Art ceremonial clay drinking cup is related to similar sculptural vessels in bronze, silver, and gold from the Bronze Age and later; during the Achaemenid Persian period of the fifth century B.C. a number of spectacular examples occur. It is not surprising that twentieth-century abstract artists admired Amlash work when it first became widely known in Europe and America in the 1960s. The elegant linear abstraction of the Dallas Museum of Art vessel is breathtaking. Each part of the animal seems to be formed of one continuous curving shape. The ram's muzzle is extended in a fluid curve to form the spout of the rhyton. The only other detail described is the pair of horns, which curve forward to echo the lines of the ram's body. The tail and eyes are lightly indicated by incised circles.

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  • Title: Ram-Shaped Vessel
  • Date Created: c. 1350–1000 B.C.E.
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 7 1/2 x 10 5/8 x 4 1/8 in. (19.05 x 26.988 x 10.478 cm)
  • Type: Containers
  • External Link: https://www.dma.org/object/artwork/5103323/
  • Medium: Ceramic
  • Credit Line: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

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