Lead-glazed cups were a Roman invention developed between the second-half of the 1st century BC. They continued to be made up until the 1st century AD. Made of terracotta they had a layer of thick glaze covering their exterior surface. Made from a mixture of silica and other minerals, predominantly lead, the discovery allowed potters to create a range of different colours. Vibrant turquoise greens, mustard yellows, rich browns could be added to the existing palette of red and black. This technique expanded the artistic repertoire, creating unique terracotta pieces. The process required to create lead-glazed pieces was costly and involved the twice-firing of the ceramic. Room was needed around each piece, to give the glaze room to drip freely. The inability to stack pieces into a kiln also increased the cost of production. Lead-glazed pieces originated in Syria and spread West, with inferior productions made in Gaul. The practise died out largely due to the expensive production costs and because of the invention of blown glass. Pottery was the cheaper and less-costly material, compared to glass, and thus it made little sense for a costly-ceramic product to continue to be made.
The decorative motifs used on this particular skyphos were themes commonly used for drinking vessels. The dancing figure, which is hard to distinguish, could be a maenad or a dancing pygmy. Maenads were associated with Bacchus, god of wine and frivolous symposia. Dancing pygmies feature on other skyphoi and made up comedic choruses, thus a dramatic association to Bacchus. The leopard was an animal also associated with the god, who is often portrayed riding the feline. The oriental association connecting the two figures. Ostriches are a slightly rarer depiction but again feature in comedic choruses. Themes associated with Bacchus were used on skyphoi, as large drinking cups used in symposia.