Cup? Horn? Curative device?
Scythia? 12th century?
22 cm ~ silver, gold, electrum


Easily the most mysterious object in our or any collection, the purpose of this rhyton-like object has perplexed archaeologists and historians the world over. It is not a drinking vessel, as it does not remain upright either empty or filled, and the animal-like shape at the base is neither permanently attached nor watertight. 

With the animal figurine removed it could conceivably have been used as a sounding or hailing horn, except that the opening is too wide, there is no sign of a reed or other vibratory device, and the bell is too short for practical use in the field.

The latest theory, debated in scholastic journals to this day, was posed in 1922 by a veterinary paleontologist from Wales, Dr. Crumley Llangforth. He suggests that from the shape, depth and capacity of the horn, the position of the outlet at the rear of the animal figure, and the surprised look on the face of the beast, it could only have been a clyster-tube for giving enemas to livestock. 

As for why such a base device should be compounded of gold, silver and electrum, Dr. Llangforth replies that it may have been reserved for the exclusive use of royal livestock.

 

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