Spiral bracelets in the form of snakes were very popular in the Hellenistic period. This type of bracelet was worn coiled around the wearer's arm, the continuation of a fashion known earlier in the Classical period. Such slip-on bracelets were worn in pairs on the wrists or the upper arms (compare, for example those worn by the woman on this grave relief).

On this single spiral example, the snake's head turns sharply from the body as if striking, and the inlaid glass eyes add to the lively effect. The goldsmith carefully recreated the naturalism of a snake in the sinuous motion of the looped tail and the texture of the scales on the head and upper body.

In the Hellenistic period, gold made available by new territorial conquests flooded the Greek world. Combined with social and economic changes that created a wealthy clientele with a taste for luxury, this availability led to an immense outpouring of gold jewelry to meet the demand.


  • Title: Snake Bracelet
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 100 B.C.–A.D. 100
  • Location Created: Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: 7.2 cm (2 13/16 in.)
  • Type: Bracelet
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Gold, glass
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 84.AM.849
  • Culture: Romano-Egyptian
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Jewelry

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