Silver-gilt bowl

Period: Archaic

Date: ca. 725–675 B.C.

Culture: Cypriot

Medium: Gilt silver

Dimensions: H. 1 1/4 in. (3.1 cm)
diameter 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)

Classification: Gold and Silver

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.4554


The repoussé decoration on this shallow silver bowl combines a number of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Phoenician stylistic elements. In the central tondo, a four-winged deity in Assyrian dress wields a sword to kill a rampant lion. Around this central scene is a variety of animals, including two specifically Egyptian subjects: a crouching sphinx wearing the double crown of Egypt, and a lion treading over a fallen human figure, who symbolizes, in Egyptian iconography, the pharaoh conquering his enemies. The broad outer band of the bowl features a number of combat scenes: a human figure in Assyrian dress killing a rampant griffin; a falcon; an Egyptian king striking enemy captives; a falcon-headed god brandishing a sword; a human figure in loincloth killing a griffin; a winged Egyptian goddess; pairs of confronted sphinxes, goats, and griffins; a human figure dressed in a lion's skin fighting a lion; and a cypress tree between a lion and a griffin.
Inside the bowl, an inscription reading "I am [the bowl] of Akestor, king of Paphos" was engraved above the main scene depicting a human figure in Assyrian dress killing a griffin. At some time, this inscription was partly obliterated, and another inscription was engraved above the scene of a human figure dressed in a lion's skin fighting a lion. It reads: "I am [the bowl] of Timokretes." This is probably the most important of all the decorated metal bowls from Cyprus, not only because of its excellent state of preservation, but also because of its royal owner, King Akestor of Paphos. Akestor's inscription was partly erased and the inscription of Timokretes was added presumably when the bowl changed hands. It is not certain when the inscription was altered, although it may have been at the beginning of the fifth century B.C., when Paphos fell to the Persians.