Illustration principale
Stone Rhyton
Achaemenid Empire, Northeastern Iran, 1st millenium BC

Steatite`
Height : 16 cm


Provenance : Private collection, Brussels (circa 1970)

Publication : "KunstKammer"
(M. Doustar, 2017) n°12
A rhyton is a roughly conical container from which fluids were intended to be drunk or to be poured in some ceremony such as libation, or merely at table. They are typically formed in the shape of an animal's head, and were produced over large areas of ancient Eurasia, Especially from Persia to the Balkans. Many have an opening at the bottom through which the liquid fell; others did not, and were merely used as drinking cups, with the characteristic that they could not usually be set down on a surface without spilling their contents.


The English word rhyton originates in the Ancient Greek. The conical rhyton form has been known in the Aegean region since the Bronze Age,or the 2nd millennium BC. However, it was by no means confined to that region. Similar in form to, and perhaps originating from, the drinking horn, it has been widespread over Eurasia since prehistoric times.

The rhytons carved in stone are extremely rare. The magnificent example above is sculpted with a realistic crouching ibex protome. The eyes sockets and the horns, now missing, were probably inlaid with another contrasting stone such as calcite.

Price on request