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Achaemenid Silver Spoon w/ Ram's Head Handle

Ancient Near East, Achaemenid Persian Empire, ca. 500 to 330 BCE. A beautifully delicate silver spoon, teardrop-shaped, with a miniature ram's head at its narrow end. His huge horns curl back in a spiral from the upper sides of his head, dominating his face. A small bobble at the back of the head probably once had an extended handle attached to it. This style of spoon is very similar to ones found at ancient Pasargadae, in modern day southwest Iran, which was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great (reigned ca. 559 to 530 BCE); the spoons found there also have animal heads, with a swan-headed one being the most elegant example. A matched swan-handled knife was also found there - so perhaps this spoon once had a knife with a ram's head to accompany it! Size: 2.55" L x 0.95" W x 1.2" H (6.5 cm x 2.4 cm x 3 cm); 9.7 grams

The Achaemenid love of silver and gold was famous throughout the ancient world. Plato wrote of how the acquisition of gold and silver was considered a virtue while Alcibiades, another Athenian, wrote of the enormous wealth in gold and silver that the Persians had. The ram was a common symbol of virility in ancient cultures, and the presence of sheep - whose wool was traded to south Arabia by the Persians during this time - is a reminder of the interconnected world of the first millennium BCE.

Condition: Dark patina from age and handling. Slight bending to form of spoon. Light encrustation on lower part of ram's head. An extended handle is probably missing from the back part of the ram's head.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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