The Rhython – the Greek name means “to flow” – was a drinking cup in the shape of an animal or a mythological creature (e.g., an Amazon or a centaur). It was used during official libation ceremonies and banquets of a more light-hearted nature. We can imagine the drinking games: because a person drinking from a rhyton gradually lifts the object and creates a vacuum in the animal’s head, the liquid is temporarily blocked from leaving the horn, forcing the drinker to lift it even more, until air suddenly fills the vacuum, a chugging sound is heard, liquid is released, and the drinker is soaked with wine.
Popular in Persia, rhytons appear in Athens suddenly and in great quantities in the years after the Persian War and were immediately imitated by artists from other Greek towns. It has been assumed that the Greek soldiers had found the Persian drinking vessels when they looted the enemy camp after the battle of Plataea (479 BCE).
Sometimes, drinking horns without animal head are called rhyton too.