• latw-189-1
    Objects, probably from destroyed tumulus at Gökçeler. (Photograph by Christopher Roosevelt)

Achaemenid bowl

Probably early fifth century BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 4614
Inventory No.
Object Type
Metalwork Type
Metal Vessel
Silver Achaemenid bowl, with flaring offset lip, shallow body, no omphalos. Lower body finely decorated with pointed flutes; shoulder decorated with pendant tongues. Rosette decoration in center. Height 0.053 m, diameter 0.125 m.
A group of objects recovered from looters and now in the Manisa Museum may belong to a single, or perhaps more than one, rich grave. The gold and silver items Nos. 189-194 were recovered from looters in 1970, reportedly from a tumulus in northern Lydia, in the neighborhood of Gökçeler, near Şahankaya and ancient Julia Gordos. The finds include two silver Achaemenid bowls (Nos. 189, 190, a silver kyathos (ladle, No. 191), two silver bracelets (Nos. 192, 193), and a golden recumbent lamb (No. 194); also a silver mirror (unpublished), a gold earring (Manisa 5290, unpublished), a bronze cup and a fragment of gold. The gold ring No. 195 was recovered in 1968, not 1970, and may belong to a different assemblage (as Roosevelt points out). With this ring were recovered another, unpublished gold ring and a bronze mirror. Based on comparisons to similar finds from the Güre and other tumuli, the group probably dates to the early fifth century BC. Close to the demolished tumulus from which the objects were reported to have come were “seventeen blocks of the tumulus tomb chamber... They are smoothly finished and rusticated limestone blocks, some with anathyrosis-like finishing in vertical joints and butterfly-shaped clamp cuttings” (Roosevelt 2003, 556). One of these blocks, and therefore apparently belonging to this destroyed tumulus tomb, is the relief showing a standing figure, No. 12, which was not a freestanding stele but part of a larger construction, as cuttings on its edges show, perhaps one of a series of figures serving the deceased, like those painted on the Aktepe Tumulus. If this chain of reasoning is correct and all these objects belong together, this must have been a spectacular tumulus with a chamber or other structure decorated with relief sculpture, unlooted until modern times, but now totally destroyed. The destruction here is less well publicized than the destruction of contemporary tumuli in Güre and Soma (see Özgen, “Lydian Treasure”), but it is another tragic loss of information and, undoubtedly, of further works of art.

The Achaemenid bowl is one of the most characteristic vessels of Persian-period Anatolia. They were made from metal, especially silver, glass, and other materials; and pottery examples are very common in deposits at Sardis dating to the Persian period. The shape is completely absent, however, from deposits at Sardis that predate the Persian destruction, showing that it is indeed an Eastern vessel type imported to Anatolia by the Persians (see Dusinberre 1999). This bowl is similar to Achaemenid bowls found in the tombs near Güre (Özgen, “Lydian Treasure”), especially Özgen and Öztürk 1996, no. 46, from Ikiztepe, which is similarly decorated but has a central omphalos. Similar bowls are brought by the Lydian delegation as gifts to the Persian king on the Apadana reliefs at Persepolis (Schmidt 1953, pl. 32).

Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs”
Özkan 1991, 131, no. 2; Dedeoğlu 2003, 75, fig.; Roosevelt 2003, 556, 673; Roosevelt 2009, 241-2; forthcoming study by C.H. Roosevelt.