The Age of Gallienus
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
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Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
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Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Denarii of Otho
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
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The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Maps of the Ancient World
Museum Collections Available Online
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Excellence Award
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Reprinted by permission from "Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations" by Alex G. Malloy
Jewelry began with the discovery of metal working. Copper and gold were worked into small ornaments and pins. In the Mesopotamia area around 3500 B.C., copper was cast into implements. The pieces of jewelry represent the beginning of the advanced metal-working process. At Tepe Gawra in the Jamdat Nasr period, gold rosette appliqués and studs were found, together with electrum and gold beads. The city of Ur produced a wealth of exceptionally fine pieces of gold and silver jewelry. Not long afterward, the Egyptian also started producing fine stone, metal, and carved ivory jewelry. The vast trade networks resulted in amulets, beads, and other ornaments being made throughout the Egyptian and Western Asiatic regions.
The Sumerians produced fine jewelry objects in gold, silver, copper, and semi-precious stones. Precious stones were thought to have specific properties. Gold was associated with the sun, and silver with the moon. The Mesopotamian Early Dynastic period produced headdresses, earrings, hair rings, diadems, necklaces, gold and silver beads, pendants, amulets, and pins. Schools of jewelry working spread to Anatolia from 2500-2000 B.C. Especially fine were the objects from Troy. Gold jewelry was produced in Cyprus beginning around 2100 - 2000 B.C. Jewelry from Phoenicia, Syria, and Palestine were introduced by Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Cyprus.
To make the jewelry, gold was hammered from sheets, cast gold and gold wire were drawn, and molds were used in casting and stamping. Casting was usually done by the lost wax process. Chisels were used for piercing and cutting, although bead-makers used blow-drills.
Egyptian jewelry manufacturing reached a high pinnacle during the Early Dynastic period, resulting in fine bracelets, finger rings, collars, and necklaces. The inlay work for pectorals, girdles, earrings, and bracelets were unsurpassed during the New Kingdom. Much of Egyptian jewelry had magical significance. The decorations on Egyptian jewelry are limited to hieroglyphic signs, the scarab, and floral patterns such as the papyrus of lower Egypt and the lotus of Upper Egypt. Birds appeared more than animals, and humans were rarely used.
The earliest Greek jewelry was from the Minoans from the 17th century B.C., and later from Mycenae. The mainland Greek offshoot of the Minoans culture produced fine jewelry into the 14th and 15th century B.C. Rings, earrings, stamped appliqués and pendants were made. During the Archaic and Classical periods, jewelry was scarce due to conflict with the Persians. It was in the period between the defeats of the Persians and the rise of Alexander the Great that some of the finest jewelry of all time was produced. These masterpieces rank with the best gold work. Hellenistic jewelry was also in a high state of artistic merit, and is more available to the collector today. Earrings, necklaces, and pendants with animal heads depicting dolphins, bulls, goats, lions, lynxes, and gazelles are beautiful. By the end of the period, brightly colored stone and glass beads added to the decoration.
Etruscan jewelry is characterized by its technical perfection and variety. The use of granulation was unsurpassed. The fibula was made in a wide assortment of varieties.
Roman jewelry can be said to have started in 27 B.C. with the accession of the Augustus to the title of Caesar. During the Republican period, jewelry was under official disapproval, and surviving examples are copies from the Etruscans and the Greeks. Roman jewelry takes various forms. Ball earrings and earrings with hoops were popular, and are available today for the collectors. Finger rings were extremely popular during the Empire. They were worn by male and female alike. The satirist Martial reported that there were some men who wore six rings on each finger. The fibula was extensively used by the Romans to fasten their garments. These fibula were re-introduced into Rome by the Celts. The most common was the crossbow type. Many collectors find it quite rewarding to collect these fibula, in all their many designs.
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Boardman, J. Archaic Greek Gems. (London, 1968).
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Henig, M. A Corpus of Roman Engraved Gemstones from British Sites, Part I. British Archeological Reports 8(i). (Oxford, 1974).
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