Ancient Greek Jewellery
|The bracelets are formed from a pennanular tube with animal-head terminals. The rings have round or pointed oval bezels with intaglio or embossed ornaments and are (fig.14) sometimes set with scarabs and later sealstones. A few necklaces have been preserved intact. One of the loveliest is from Eretria, with bull's head at the centre and acorn and ovoid beads (fig.15). The diadems are usually simple with embossed ornaments bands, the wreaths, gold, gilded or silver, are rendered naturalistically. The pins are more elegant and the fibulae usually of silver (fig.16).|
|Fig 17 Gold belt with elaborate decoration. Birds, dolphins, bees amidst acantlus, palmettes and rosettes. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, ST 362). 3rd-2nd century BC.|
The great changes that mark the Hellenistic age (330-27 BC),.initiated by thÚ conquests of Alexander the Great and increased contacts with the East and Egypt, affected the art of jewellery too. Not only is the abundance of gold astonishing but also the creation of new types of jewellery and the introduction of other decorative themes. Polychromy (Fig.17) now came into its own, achieved by using semi-precious and even precious stones, such as chalcedony, cornelian, amethyst (fig.18), rock crystal and principally garnet (fig.19) -for less costly jewellery glass paste was substituted-. New subjects appeared, remaining well-established into Roman times, such as the Herakles knot (fig. 20), with its apotropaic character, a borrowing from Egypt, as is the Isis crown which adorns earrings from the second century B.C. Western Asia was the provenance of the crescent (fig. 21), usually featuring as a necklace pendant. A purely Greek and extremely popular motif espoused in this period was Eros (fig. 22). An important type of earring appeared around 330 BC and predominated in Hellenistic and early Roman times: the hoop with finial in the form of heads of animals, maenads, negroes or of a full figure of Eros and other devices.
|Fig. 18 Pair of gold bracelets with cut-out vine leaves, volutes and set with garnets, amethyst and enamel. From Palaiokastro, Thessaly. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, XP. 939). 1th century BC.|