Bowl with a Human Heads Decoration

  • 3rd - 2nd century B.C.
  • Gilded silver
  • H-8.2 D-11.9
Catalogue Entry

3rd‐2nd century B.C.
Gilded silver
H. 8.2 cm, Dia. 11.9 cm
The protruding base of this bowl is fitted with a mouth rim that rises relatively vertically before flaring at its top. The exterior base of the bowl is decorated with a rounded tip 10 petal, double-layer rosette. The body of the bowl is covered with 16 narrow framed arches, each fitted with a protruding male head in the top of the arch. The clothing and hair of these males have been gilded. A vessel with three-dimensional figural heads as decoration is a type known from antiquity in Greece as a "Megaran bowls" cup, and a famous example of this tradition can be seen in the ivory rhyton from the Parthian period discovered at Nisa. One explanation of this rhyton states that it might have been made in Bactria. The possibility of such a source can be also indicated by the resemblance between the male heads on this bowl and the heads seen on the ivory seahorse excavated at Takht-I Sangin.


The "vessels" division is represented by a relatively large number of objects.There are 22 items of gold (cat. Nos. 123-144) and 26 of silver (cat. Nos. 97-122). Among the silver vessels, there are 6 goblets (cat. Nos. 103-106, 108, 109) tall libation vessels Achaemenid in form, but decorated in a style which is typically Hellenistic. Similar cups are held by the magi represented on the relief sculptures and votive plaques. Three rhyta made for a similar purpose are unfortunately in a fragmentary condition (cat. Nos. 118, 119, 122). In addition there are 8 shallow bowls (cat. Nos. 97-99, 101, 102, 111-113) for ritual libations. The gold vessels were used for the same purpose; there are 18 libation bowls, of simple form, most of which have a rounded base and everted rim (cat. Nos. 123-140). One tall vessel of a pyxis type with a lid (cat. No. 142) appears to be the earliest of the vessels in the collection. Of special interest is an incense burner in the form of a censer with four rings for suspension (cat. No. 141).
Although the number of vessels in this collection is considerably larger than those of the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum, they probably served the same function. The vessels of both collections are closely paralleled by the vessels held by worshippers depicted on the Persepolis reliefs. This observation makes it possible to date them. It is worth adding here that the manufacture of goblets of similar shape and of rhyta in the Persepolitan style is depicted on a relief in a pronaos on the northern wall of the tomb of Petosiris at Hermopolis Magna in Egypt. According to Muscarella, the reliefs attest the manufacture of embossed articles in Egypt right up until 300 BC.

Rhyton with a Stag Censer Shallow Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Shallow Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Phiale with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Phiale Fragment of a Shallow Bowl Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Lotus and PalmettePattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Shallow Bowl with a Leaf Plate with Ketos Bowl Kotyle with Mythical Figures Situla with a Lion's Head Rhyton with a horse protome Horse (Fragment of a rhyton) Winged Human-headed Bull(Fragment of a rhyton) Decoration of a Ladle Disk-like Round Mirror Lion Griffin (Fragment of a Rhyton) Shallow Bowl with a Rosette Pattern Sallow Bowl Sallow Bowl Bowl Sallow Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl with Lid