Gold necklace with precious stones

Unknown"mid-4th c. AD" - ""

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art

Exquisite example of late Roman/early Christian jewellery from Cyprus. The necklace is composed of six rectangular plaques in openwork technique decorated with fine scrolls and sapphires in oval settings. They alternate with fifteen figure-of-eight elements, mounted with emeralds and garnets, separated in-between by a pearl threaded on gold wire. A plaque with a rectangular emerald and an attached pendant below forms the centrepiece of the necklace. This unique item is a fine example of the technique often referred to as "opus interrasile", a term originating with Pliny (N.H. XII.94), although the Greek term "diatrita" (pierced) is thought to be more accurate. It encompasses a distinctive category of jewellery encountered in Mediterranean regions from the third to the seventh century, characterised by thin gold sheets, creating a lace-like effect, often combined with precious stones. Regional workshops remain unidentified but the wide distribution of types attests to innovations introduced at periods of economic paucity by goldsmiths who continued to draw on Hellenistic and Late Roman traditions for shapes and decorative motifs. The necklace from Cyprus has been interpreted as a diadem, based on fourth-century representations on coins and statues, or as an ornament sewn to a ceremonial robe. This view, supported by the absence of clasps and the presence of side holes and wire frames at the back of the elements, is corroborated by its recovery from a tomb together with more jewellery and personal items attributed to a woman of the higher social rank. Comparanda in Athens, the Louvre and the Walters Art Gallery show pierced-work jewellery mounted with stones.

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  • Title: Gold necklace with precious stones
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: "mid-4th c. AD" - ""
  • Provenance: Ancient Marion, Cyprus
  • Physical Dimensions: w360 mm
  • Period: Roman period
  • Culture: Cypriot
  • Type: necklace
  • Rights: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art, Th.N. Zintilis Collection, no. 438.1, http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=25&clang=1
  • External Link: Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • Medium: gold, precious stones


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