Phoenician Jewelry Part 1

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As the inventors of methods and the creators of models which exercised a widespread influence in the development of subsequent types of ornaments, Egypt, and in a lesser degree Assyria also, occupies a position of considerable importance. The chief agents in the spreading of these methods and models were the Phoenicians, the first and foremost navigators of the ancient world, who imported jewels, among other articles of trade, into Italy and into the islands and mainland of Greece.

Not by nature creative, but always copying those nations with whom in their wanderings they came in touch, the Phoenicians produced a native jewelry of composite type in which there is a perpetual mixture of Egyptian and Assyrian forms.

As they had imitated Egypt and Assyria, so they began to imitate Greece as soon as they came into contact with her. The Greeks in return made great use at first of this composite style, but subsequently shook off its influence and incorporated it only after many modifications into their own developed art.

The amphora—a form of ornament in goldsmith’s work which can be traced to Assyria—is one among many motives borrowed by the Phoenicians, and transmitted by them to Greece. . From Egypt the Phoenicians acquired a high degree of technical skill and mastery over materials.

This finish was transmitted to the finest Greek jewelry, and to the personal ornaments of the early Etruscans. The art of soldering gold to gold, which was known in Egypt at an early period, was greatly perfected and developed by the Phoenicians; and it is generally believed that they were the inventors of the process of decorating jewelry by granulation, that is by affixing to the surface minute globules of gold—a process which attained its perfection in the skillful hands of the Etruscan goldsmiths.

The jewelry of the Phoenicians must be sought for from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, rather than in Phoenicia itself. It occurs chiefly in their settlements on the shores and islands of the Eastern Mediterranean, at Sardinia, Crete, and Rhodes, and on the southern coasts of Asia Minor, but the best and most numerous specimens have been found in Cyprus.

Continued in Part 2

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