Provenance: ex Private collection and Melbourne Sales Rooms
Age: Approx.2,000 years old
Size: 10.5 cm/diameter 9.2 cm
A rhyton (plural rhytons or, following the Greek plural, rhyta) is a container from which fluids were intended to be drunk, or else poured in some ceremony such as libation. The English word rhyton originates in the ancient Greek word ῥυτόν (rhŭtón).
The conical rhyton form was known in the Aegean region since the Bronze Age; i.e., the 2nd millennium BC. However, it was by no means confined to there. Similar in form to, and perhaps originating from, the drinking horn, it has been widespread over Eurasia since prehistoric times.
Around 185 B.C., Pushyamitra Shunga, the principal military officer of the last Mauryan king, assassinated his ruler and assumed control. Because the Shungas were the successors to the Mauryans, the period following Mauryan rule is often called the Shunga period. However, except at the beginning, Shunga was not as extensive as the earlier realm but coexisted with other polities throughout the subcontinent. The period saw a flowering of the visual arts, including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the chaitya hall at Bhaja, the stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi.