Rhyton (the word derives from the Greek verb rheo – ‘flowing’), according to the classical definition is a cup in the shape of a horn with two openings: one for pouring in and one, in the front part, for pouring out of the liquid. Sometimes the latter is missing. Usually, rhyta finial is in the shape of an animal head or forepart, a protome. This shape, known since very ancient times, spread in different parts of the ancient world. Rhyta of bone, clay or wood, and later of precious metals, were used in every-day life, as well as in rituals.
Rhyta of clay or horns were among the most popular types of vessels in ancient Thrace. Cups of precious metals appeared in this large area as diplomatic gifts or heirloom/loot. They had a specific purpose in the elite life style: wine was drunk at gulps from the front opening of a rhyton over a phiale (a shallow wide bowl) during a feast. They were used in rites of purification, affiliation and initiation.
The rhyton in the shape of goat’s protome (front part of the figure) is one of the extraordinary objects in the Vassil Bojkov Collection. The elegantly curving horn is rather long compared to the animal figure; it is very narrow in its lower part, covered with exquisite tiny tongue-shaped flutes, and gradually flares at the mouth. The mouth rim is decorated with a band of pearls and ovules. Below a very wide frieze is depicted, divided into two visual fields bordered by an ivy wreath above and a laurel one below. Images and decorative patterns are incised.