Phiale with inscription

Silver phiale, hammered, chased and engraved, with repousse decoration, inscribed for Artaxerxes I (465 – 425 B.C.).

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Historical period(s)
Achaemenid period, Reign of Artaxerxes I, 499-400 BCE
H x Diam (overall): 4.8 x 29.5 cm (1 7/8 x 11 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 21: Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Metalwork, Vessel


Achaemenid period (ca. 550 - 331 BCE), Iran
Provenance research underway.

Silver phiale, hammered, chased and engraved, with repousse decoration, inscribed for Artaxerxes I (465 - 425 B.C.).


1. (Ann Gunter, 1992) An inscription in Old Persian cuneiform along the rim reads, "Artaxerxes the Great King, King of Kings, King of Countries, son of Xerxes the King, of Xerxes [who was] son of Darius the King; in whose royal house this silver saucer was made."


On the rim of this bowl is an inscription in Old Persian cuneiform, which names the Achaemenid Persian king Artaxerxes I (reigned 465-425 B.C.E.).  The inscription has been translated as: "Artaxerxes the Great King, King of Kings, King of Countries, son of Xerxes the King, of Xerxes [who was] son of Darius the king; in whose royal house this silver saucer was made."  Shallow bowls of this form, used for drinking wine, were made from various materials, including metal, glass, and ceramic.  Royal vessels made of precious metal, like this one, were versatile forms of wealth; they could serve as royal tableware, be stored in the treasury, or be given away as gifts. 

Published References
  • Sotheby's (London). Catalog of Egyptian, Western Asiatic, Greek, and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Pottery, Metalwork, and Glass. London, 1970. lot 141.
  • Clyde Fant, Mitchell Reddish. Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Grand Rapids, MI. .
  • Ernst Herzfeld. Ein Silberschussel Artaxerxes I. vol. VII Berlin. pp. 1-8.
  • Ernst Herzfeld. untitled article in Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Iran. vol. 8 Berlin. pp. 5-17.
  • John Curtis. Silver Dish of Artaxerxes. vol. 19, Autumn 1994. p. 24.
  • Ann C. Gunter. The Art of Eating and Drinking in Ancient Iran. vol. 1, no. 2 New York. p. 29.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 42-43.
  • Louise Allison Cort, Massumeh Farhad, Ann C. Gunter. Asian Traditions in Clay: The Hauge Gifts. Washington, 2000. p. 48, fig. 5.
  • Ann C. Gunter, Paul Jett. Ancient Iranian Metalwork in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Mainz, Germany, 1992. cat. 3, pp. 69-73.
  • Roland G. Kent. Old Persian: Grammer, Texts, Lexicon. American Oriental Series, vol. 33, 2nd rev. ed. New Haven. pp. 113, 153.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 88, pp. 114-115.
  • Art of Asia Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 29 New York and Honolulu, 1975-1976. p. 118, fig. 60.
  • John Curtis, M.R. Cowell, C.B.F. Walker. A Silver Bowl of Artaxerxes I. vol. 33, 1995. pp. 149-153.
  • Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings. Exh. cat. Cambridge, Massachusetts. p. 150, fig.4.13.
  • Zhixin Jason Sun. Age of Empires: Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties. Exh. cat. New York, April 24, 2017. p. 173, fig. 75.
  • Amelie Kuhrt. The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. 2 vols., London and New York. p. 317, fig. 8a.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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