The bowl in its primitive state was a vessel without handle and scooped out of wooden blocks or fashioned from the natural formation of shells or plants, all or in part of bowl-like shapes. It will, therefore, be seen that this very early type of wooden vessel was general and would be a pattern to the silversmiths and metal workers of all generations. Very remarkable bowls of gold and silver have been preserved throughout the ages, generally in the tombs of the ancients whose food vessels of bronze and pottery were buried with them to send them fully prepared for a material existence in the unknown spirit world to which they went.
It would appear that in ancient records, the term bowl was applied rather freely, and those who search in these documents for accounts of the bowls of the ancients, are forced to the conclusion that the term often implies cup rather than bowl. When wooden platters and bowls were common feeding vessels, the bowl served the purpose of a cup, and in a similar way when a stem was added it is not always easy to differentiate between a cup in which only liquid was quaffed, and a bowl more suitable for thickened beverages-porridge and the like. Collectors may be the fortunate possessors of bowls of ancient Greece or Rome, but between those ancient vessels and the silver of well authenticated date, there is a wide gap. The massive bowl of the Anglo-Saxons is more properly described as a cup in which spice and ale was quaffed.