31. Artaxerxes I

This silver bowl dates to the 5th century BC and comes from ancient Persia. It was used as a wine-drinking vessel, and it comes from the royal house of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes I. It is inscribed with the name of Artaxerxes himself, as well as his father Xerxes and his grandfather Darius. Of interest is the fact that the biblical figure Nehemiah is listed as a cup-bearer to Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1. Found before 1935,* it is nearly 12 inches in diameter and is one of four such bowls discovered so far. The inscription is in the Old Persian language using cuneiform script, and the bowl is on display in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

*The exact provenance is unknown.

PHOTO: © Michael J. Caba