A bronze fluted phiale from the Achaemenid Empire. Hammered from a single sheet of metal, the phiale has a two-tiered herring bone design in fine repoussé work chased into the bronze surface. A vestigial knob pushes up from the bottom of the bowl to form a central internal knob, though this is not as pronounced as on other examples. Such a type of phiale is known as a ‘mesomphalic phiale’: a characteristic that allowed the phiale to be held a little more easily in one hand.
Date: Circa 6th-4th century BC. Period: Achaemenid Empire Provenance: From an important collection of a Japanese gentlemen, deceased, 1970-2015. Condition: Complete and intact; interior with weathered surfaces; exterior with fine dark green patination but with some patches of roughness.
At its peak, the Achaemenid Empire had the most expansive territory in history, on account of which it embraced a fusion of various languages, religions, and cultures. Indeed, the phiale itself was not a Persian invention, but can be traced back to the Bronze Age and even prehistoric Greece.
The bronze phiale was one of the items to be found on the dining table of the Persian court. It was specifically a wine bowl, integral to the pouring of libations at mealtimes and other ritual occasions. Although the most precious plates were made from gold and silver, the ability of these materials to be reworked means that few have survived in their original form.