Greek Jewelry Part 1

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Before dealing with Greek jewelry of the classic period some reference must be made to the primitive and archaic ornaments that preceded it. The period and phase of Greek culture to which the primitive ornaments belong is known widely as ” Mycenaean”—a title it owes to the discoveries made at Mycenae, where in 1876 Schliemann brought to light the famous gold treasure now preserved in the National Museum at Athens. A characteristic motive of the decoration of these objects is the use of spiral patterns almost identical with those employed on Celtic ornaments. Beside these and other primitive exhibitions of decorative skill, we find representations of naturalistic animal forms, such as cuttlefish, starfish, butterflies, and other creatures. These are displayed in repouss^ patterns worked in low relief.

Among the most notable objects are a number of gold crowns usually in the form of elongated oval plates ornamented with fine work chiefly in the shape of rosettes and spirals. Most numerous are the gold plates intended to be fastened to the dress. They are ornamented with spirals and radiating lines, with the above-mentioned animal forms, or with leaves showing the veins clearly marked (PI. Ill, i).

Specially worthy of note also are the finger rings with the designs sunk into the oval surface of the bezel. Ornaments of this same epoch, like those in the British Museum from lalysos in Rhodes, and Enkomi in Cyprus, have been discovered throughout the whole yEgean district. They are likewise mainly in the form of gold plates used for sepulchral purposes, ornamented with embossed patterns impressed from stone molds. Some of them are enriched with fine granulation.

This particular process, however, which abounds in Etruscan work, is more frequent on Greek ornaments of the archaic epoch, which dates roughly from about the seventh or eighth century B.C. The types of these, generally semi-Oriental in character, show the influence of Phoenician art, with its traces of Egyptian and Assyrian feeling. Lions and winged bulls on some objects betray the Assyrian style; the treatment of the human figure displays on others the influence of Egypt.

Among the best examples of this Grasco-Phoenician jewelry are those found at Kameiros in Rhodes, and now in the Louvre and the British Museum. Between these and the fourth-century jewels from the Crimea to be described next, the only known Greek jewels are the quasi-Oriental ones from the tombs of Cyprus, which belong to about the fifth century.

Continue in Part 2

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Author: connielimon2014

Bead Jewelry Artisan, mother of one daughter and grandmother of two grandsons, daughter of Korean War Veteran.

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