XP 939
A pair of gold bracelets


Material: Gold combined with semiprecious stones
Provenance: Palaiokastro, Thessaly (ancient Metropolis of Hestiaiotis)
Date: 1st century BC
Inventory no.: ΧP939
Exhibition Place: 1st floor, Room 62, Case 18, exhibit no. 3

The band of each of the bracelets takes the form of two semicircular bows which meet around a pivot, so that the jewel can be opened on the opposite side by means of a clasp. A thin strip displaying running spirals rendered in enamel decorates the finials of each arm of the bracelet flanking the clasp.
Cast and hammered parts are combined in these intricate pieces of jewellery, while details are executed in filigree. Cut-out vine leaves are framed by fragile volutes, garnets are set in the center of the leaves and hung from the finials of the tendrils and a large amethyst sets off the clasp.
The abundance of gold jewellery, the variety of its types, its polychromy and a fashion for bracelets are typical of the Hellenistic age. Bracelets employing cut-out motifs and embellished with gem stones are rarer. The use of semiprecious stones increased the attraction of gold and drew those with a liking for opulence and personal prosperity. This pair of bracelets, along with more outstanding jewels consisting of a necklace and earrings, was offered as a burial gift. Similar practices are frequently attested in Thessaly too, since jewellery played an important role in burial habits. Lists of temple depositories mention jewels among dedications to gods
The profusion of gold vessels and splendid jewellery in Thessaly may suggest that some metallurgy workshop operated in Thessaly in Hellenistic times. It is not easy to identify the profile of such an establishment, however, since the products of various local workshops present common traits both in terms of the choice of decorative subjects and of execution. The intensive commercial activities of the Thessalians and their close relations with the Macedonians could easily have provided them with all the precious objects needed by their style-conscious and evidently luxury-loving aristocracy.
Bracelets were worn either on the wrists or above the elbows. Goldworking is an extremely ancient craft, for it rests on the natural property of gold, which allows it, whether cold or heated, to be hammered intensively, thereby producing thin sheets.
Palaiokastro has been identified as the site of the Thessalian city-state Metropolis in the ancient region Hestiaiotis.

Bibliography: S.G. Miller, Two groups of Thessalian gold, University of California Publications in Classical Studies 18, Berkeley - Los Angeles 1979. E. Stasinopoulou_Kakarounga, ''Το αρχαίο ελληνικό κόσμημα'', in Κ. Μίχου-Καραχάλιου (ed.), Το ελληνικό κόσμημα. Πέντε χιλιάδες χρόνια παράδοση, Athens 1995, σελ. 58-79. Αik. Despini, Ελληνική τέχνη: Αρχαία χρυσά κοσμήματα, Αthens 1996. Ε.-B. Tsigarida, ''Το κόσμημα από τη γεωμετρική εποχή έως την όψιμη αρχαιότητα (9ος αι. π.Χ.- 4ος αι. μ.Χ.)'', in Το ελληνικό κόσμημα. 6.000 χρόνια παράδοση, Thessalonike, Villa Bianca, 21 December 1997-21 February 1998 , Athens 1997, 61-150. Γ. Χουρμουζιάδης, Το χρυσάφι του κόσμου, Athens 1997.

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