Silver bowl


British Museum

British Museum

Bowls such as this one, carinated and bearing a lotus flower design, were popular in the Achaemenid period. They derive from Late Assyrian prototypes. There is evidence that vessels in gold and silver, as well as various other precious objects, were esteemed for their bullion value. They were probably made to carefully prescribed weights of metal, and could have been stored or exchanged as currency. The long tradition in the ancient Near East of using precious metals for currency continued even after the introduction of coinage. Such bowls would have belonged to the royal treasury, and would have counted as part of the wealth of the state. They were probably also standard items from a royal table-service. Many Classical authors refer to the great richness of the Persian royal treasuries and it is clear that bowls in precious metals were amongst the treasures. Their importance is shown by the fact that bowls were presented by the Persian king as gifts and they were also considered to be suitable gifts for the great king himself. They appear on the reliefs from Persepolis being carried by tribute bearers.

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  • Title: Silver bowl
  • Date Created: -499/-400
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 25.80cm; Height: 4.55cm; Volume: 1190.00ml (filled); Weight: 541.30g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: hammered; embossed
  • Registration number: 1897,1231.180
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Erzincan
  • Period/culture: Achaemenid
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Franks, Augustus Wollaston