Ancient Gold: The Wealth of the Thracians

Sculpted to resemble a helmeted woman, this 11-inch-high, fourth-century B.C. gold rhyton may depict the Greek goddess Athena or an Amazonian princess. According to Greek mythology, the Amazons once ruled most of Thrace. On the front of the woman’s helmet is an elaborately incised tree of life, and two griffins rest on either side of her brow. The handle is a fluted column, surmounted by an elegant sphinx. The exact purpose of this vessel is unknown, but the use of precious metal suggests it may have belonged to royalty.