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Fatimid Period Spherical Gold Bead from Caesarea Maritima

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Hi, all.  Here is a very lovely spherical gold bead with filigree and granulation from Caesarea Maritima that I believe can be dated to the Syrian or Egyptian Fatimid Period, 11th Century CE.

Spherical Gold Bead
11th Century CE Fatimid Syria or Egypt
Intricately designed and crafted spherical gold bead with filigree
and granulation, crushed flat.  Six teardrop-shaped petals in each
hemisphere are outlined in twisted gold wire, with a circle of wire
inside each leaf.  The leading edges of the petals are marked by
twelve granules that alternate position along the upper and lower
extent of the hemispheres along the equator of the bead. 
Maximum diameter 13.2mm. Wt: 0.775gm.
Surface find from the beach south of Caesarea Maritima, 1976.
(click for larger pic)
I found a similar piece in the on-line collection of the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 1980.474.4, acquired in Jerusalem along with several other beads in the late 1970's (Accession Numbers: 1980.474.1-8).  The museum's description of these very rare beads suggests that they are, "...curious exceptions to the almost universal employment of dapping for the production of 'spherical' beads", and "...are formed by appropriately cutting and bringing together the edges of pieces of sheet to approximate the spherical form".  They go on to say that, "While no practical or artistic advantage can be seen to result from (this) procedure, it is difficult to imagine that workmen capable of this quality of work, which includes colloid hard soldering, would be unfamiliar with the dapping process" (NYMMA Text).  As always, I would welcome any other information, ideas, examples, or corrections to my description.  Thanks, V-drome

Joe Sermarini:

Ron C2:
What makes you think it could not be late Roman?

I don't know much about the history of the style and the techniques involved, but there was a famous hoard of jewelry found at Caesarea in the 1960's in a glazed jar dated to the Fatimid period which contained objects of similar design.  The find included faceted carnelian beads also associated with this era.  A photo of the hoard was included in a tiny tourist booklet about Caesarea when we first lived there, and it provided endless dreams of treasure to all who viewed it!  Other than that I am just going by the attributions provided with the MMoA examples, but any other ideas are welcome.  Jimi

Ron C2:
To me the artistry looks a little too good for 11th century Egypt, but I'm not an expert in good beadwork from that period.

Certainly the Roman imperial era workshops were capable of this level of work.


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