CHALICE CUP IN ALABASTER
Elegant goblet carved out of a single block of calcite (alabaster). Traditionally called “chalice” by archeologists, it has the shape of a goblet with slightly rounded cylindrical sides on a high stem. The lip of the goblet is flat and slim. Traces of a wide, wooden drill bit, used with an abrasive such as sand for polishing the object, are visible. Signs of erosion and some bits missing due to its age. This is a classic shape from the middle Bronze Age in this region. The material is mostly brownish yellow. Fine condition.
The region of Bactria, straddling what is present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, is rich in innumerable mineral and agricultural resources, which permitted it to be populated since the Neolithic era. Today, these goblets' use still remains unknown: ritual vases, containers for burning perfumed oils, gift between people of stature, all hypotheses are possible. Alabaster was a highly-prized stone in the 3rd and 2nd millennia. Tableware made of it has been found in Cyprus, Egypt and Mesopotamia. It is said that the prophet Zarathustra found refuge in Bactria-Zariaspa and that during the Iron Age he spread his doctrine, beliefs later collected in a holy book, the Avesta, finally translated in the 18th century by the Frenchman Abraham Anquetil-Dupeyron, thus making known to Europeans this very ancient monotheistic religion.