Lobed bowl with a royal inscription, silver, Iran.
Shallow bowls with a central knob, known as phialae, were widespread in the ancient world. They display a range of variations within a basic motif—radiating lotiform buds stemming from the center—and were used, along with pitchers and ladles, for ritual libation. Silver phialae were often produced in sets conforming to a bullion weight, giving them an economic as well as aesthetic value.
The Old Persian inscription on the rim says that this vessel was made in the royal house of Artaxerxes I (r. 464-424 BCE). Vessels inscribed with kings’ names were often exchanged as gifts between courts, as witnessed by archaeological evidence from the Persepolis treasury, where royal vessels from Assyria and Egypt have been found.