Elam was an ancient kingdom of Asia, situated north of the Persian Gulf and east of the Tigris River, and corresponding approximately to the present-day province of Khuzistan in Iran. The capital of Elam and its most fabled city was Sûsa, today the city of Shûsh. This powerful empire has been overshadowed in history by the rival kingdoms of Babylon and Assyria. However, their extraordinary metalwork survives to this day, a testament to the expertise of their craftsman.
This small silver vessel demonstrates the absolute mastery of the Elamite artisans. A convex bump marks the bottom of the interior of the bowl. From here radiates a band of gadroons, all delicately hammered out of the silver by hand. Perhaps this vessel was used in religious or ceremonial festivities. Surely such a lavish, luxurious item was reserved strictly for the possession of the ruling elite and their immediate family. While the kings of Elam once ruled over a vast empire, no doubt amassing countless priceless treasures, today their memory is preserved through the remnants of their wealth. This vessel is not just a gorgeous work of art, but also the only lasting tribute to a vanished empire.