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Early Byzantine silver spoon with inscription in Middle Persian

Of the characteristic early Byzantine type (see also No.13, R005075), the bowl of this spoon is double skinned; plain on the inside and ribbed in repoussé on the outside.  It is strengthened on the underside with a fin.  The presence of the latter confirms it was a serving spoon or ligula, rather than a cochlearion or eating spoon

The lower part of the handle is inlaid with niello and inscribed in Middle Persian. The disc joining the two is similarly niello-inlaid with a cross with pronounced ‘bracket’ terminals on both sides similar to Leo Heraclius coins.

The presence of the inscription in the form of Persian used by the Sassanians, the Byzantines’ regular adversaries testifies to the presence on a wealthy community of Christians between them. One one other related spoon is known to us.  Indeed, it is so similar in all aspects that it was perhaps once part of the same set. (see, Spier, J., Treasures of the Ferrell Collection, Wiesbaden, 2010, p.304, cat.225).

Mesopotamia or Western Iran

Length: 22.5 cm
Weight: 64 g

IR collection,1960-1980
IV collection,1980-2014
Acquired by AXIA in the London Trade (SS) 2016