Gold wreath


British Museum

British Museum

This naturalistic wreath of oak-leaves and acorns is supported on two golden branches that are now reinforced by a modern copper core. At the back the branches end in obliquely cut end-plates, at the front they are held together by a split pin fastener concealed by a golden bee. Each branch bears six sprays with eight leaves and seven or eight acorns, as well as a cicada. Additionally, about a dozen single leaves are attached directly to each branch.

Gold wreaths were made in imitation of various leaves, including oak, olive, ivy, vine, laurel and myrtle. Most of these trees or plants have associations with various deities; for example, the oak was sacred to Zeus.

Wreaths were left in burials in Macedonia, southern Italy, Asia Minor and the North Pontic area from the fourth century onwards. This wreath is said to have come from a tomb somewhere on the Dardanelles. Despite their obvious fragility, the Greek orator Demosthenes (384-322 BC) writes that gold wreaths were worn for certain religious ceremonies. The inventories of Greek temples and sanctuaries also show that large numbers of gold wreaths were left as dedications. The dedicators might be individuals (including men, women, foreigners or officials at the end of a term of office), or states or foreign powers.

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  • Title: Gold wreath
  • Date Created: -350/-300
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 77.00cm (circa, stem); Weight: 276.00g (as restored, inc. modern core); Diameter: 23.00cm (as restored); Length: 2.10cm (of bee)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: plant; insect
  • Registration number: 1908,0414.1
  • Production place: Made in Turkey
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Dardanelles
  • Period/culture: East Greek; Hellenistic
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Arditi, D


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