Parthian Faience Vessel

SKU GF.0338

1 AD to 300 AD


1.75″ (4.4cm) high





Gallery Location



After the death of Alexander the Great, his expansive empire was divided among three of his most loyal generals, with Seleucis assuming control of the eastern portion. The Seleucid Dynasty was thereby established, following in the footsteps of the Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian Empires, with its capitals at Antioch (in modern Syria) and Seleucia (in modern Iraq). However, as history has shown, maintaining calm and order over such a large territory, encompassing so many different cultures, proved difficult if not impossible. In 245 B.C., the Parthians revolted against the Seleucids under the leadership of Satrap Andragoras, igniting a civil war that would lead to further autonomy, despite the continued recognition of the Greek kings as their superiors. Although the Parthians had been mentioned in Assyrian text as early as the 7th Century B.C., it was not until the rise of Mithradates I that the yoke of Seleucid control was toss aside and Parthia reached the heights of its glory. Mithradates the Great quickly conquered the lands of Babylon, Media, and Elam, establishing a great empire that would rival Roman dominance and last until 224 A.D. when the Sassanid Empire finally subjugated their lands.

Though discovered in the Holy Land, this adorable juglet was probably made in Persia. Parthian ceramics fall into the transitional phase between the ancient and the Islamic period. They combined ancient techniques with new procedures to produce very fine and delicate works. The beautiful aqua of this pitcher is blended with white, creating a pattern of light and dark blue mottling. Its neck is ridged on the upper and lower portion, and the handle too is ridged to give it a relief effect. This juglet probably contained perfume or ointment and would have had a stopper or cap. Our imagination soars when thinking of it traveling from far away Persia to the Holy Land; perhaps part of a beautiful young woman's cosmetics case. Within its simple form is still contained the romance of the past.

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