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Ancient Gold Earrings

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Earrings190 of 335Gold Over Sterling Silver/Lapis Lazuli EarringsMid East Indian 22kt Earrings
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (103 items)

    A few years ago, I had the opportunity to buy 4 pairs of museum-quality, ancient gold earrings -- it is a miracle that they have survived. I haven't tested the gold, but early gold was not pure, usually combined with copper so it could be formed into objects.

    - These gold and garnet earrings show the early techniques of granulation and filigree. The Etruscans (natives of Etruia, a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria), learned these techniques from Syro-Phoenician jewelers who settled in southern Etruria and taught local apprentices the art of granulation and filigree during the 9th and 8th centuries BC. I have not seen another example of such earrings, but have circa dated them to 500-400 BC.

    - Large Greco-Roman gold repoussé earrings of Maenads. Repoussé was another technique perfected by the Etruscans and literally translated means to push back. The technique consists of hammering the design behind the ornament with the relief on the opposite side. These earrings have three ascending hollow gold beads separated by double-rows of tiny gold granules terminating in a conical collar with granular decoration from which emerges the hollow gold head of a maenad. She is wearing a double ivy wreath in her finely detailed hair which is centrally parted and drawn into a chignon at the back, with two long curls framing her face. The earring hoops are a combination of twisted wire leading to smooth wire with the end of the hoop passing into a loop at the back of the maenad's head. In astonishingly intact condition and circa 400-300 BC.

    - Greco-Roman gold repoussé bull's-head earrings, each with a hoop of tapering twisted wire that hooks through a loop on the underside of the head, the heads emerging from ornamented collars with fine detailing. The heads are rather smooshed.... Circa 400-300 BC

    - Final photo shows sizing of 3 of the earrings. The smallest is most likely a child's earring and is a lion's head. I have yet to get a good photo of these.... The Maenad is 1 3/4", the bull's head is 1" and the lion's head is 1/2".

    A note about Castellani....

    Castellani was one of the leading Italian jewelry design firms of the 19th century. In 1836 when the Etruscan Regolini-Galassi Tombs were opened, papal authorities invited Fortunato Pio Castellani to study the jewelry discovered there. He could not immediately reproduce the soldering, even when checking all ancient (Italian) sources. However at the time, there were still some traditional goldsmiths, in remote areas of the former Etruscan area, that used similar techniques with similar results as the Etruscan jewelry. Castellani deduced the techniques of the Etruscans from these artisans. Such an approach is not uncommon, and anthropological analysis is often applied to explain archaeological finds, especially in 'traditional societies' where little has changed over the centuries.

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    1. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      How the hell did you find these?! Brought back the stunning tour I took at the Toronto (Royal Musee?) once, In Search Of Alexander. I was amazed at the quality & detail of the gold work & when I have told a few friends about it, I always mention how surprised at the quality of the soldering & my surprise at their quality/technology that long ago. I've wondered about their way of doing such precise soldering & if you can share you're findings with me, I'm an interested student. Thanks for sharing these & bringing back fine memories of my amazement at seeing such works.
    2. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Right time, right place, had available funds.... These three don't always coincide. I was astounded the seller didn't place them with a museum, but funding may not have been available.

      This is a really good article on the soldering techniques for granulation, so instead of plagiarizing it, here is the link:

      Must have been an amazing museum show! Lucky you!
    3. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      Hi Bluboi, congratulations on owning such treasures. What interesting choices you must have in front of you to preserve your collection for posterity.
    4. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      I'm always amazed by your taste, and wide range of interest in your collection, not saying about all the informations and knowledge involved! Ô..Ô
      Long time ago I went to a museum exhibit of Scythian gold treasures.
      Folks, let have a google images for these incredible works from 400 BC!!!
    5. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 6 years ago
      One word for these wonderful pieces, stunning.
    6. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Thanks Bluboi for that site. I gleaned a lot out of it.
    7. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 6 years ago
      It's just amazing to see both primitive and such advanced work on one piece from waaaaay back!!! Really amazing. And the links, 10+ from both of you! Thank you for sharing!
    8. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      thank you all! I am so lucky to own these treasures!
    9. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      I'm waiting to see your address! LOL!!
    10. davyd286, 6 years ago
      Beautiful! #2 and #3 look so similar to the ones in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I can't help but wonder if they were made by the same artist:
    11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 6 years ago
      Davy, the similarities are so close, that I feel you might be right. This was a special art & trade probably only mastered by very few. Thanks for your contribution. Keep this to yourself, as this is a side of me rarely shown to others!
    12. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Wow, Davy! Great reference -- their bull's heads aren't smooshed, but my wiring is intact. Though, frankly, how anyone could get those twisted wires into their ears is beyond me.... Thank you!
    13. davyd286, 6 years ago
      blunderbuss2, it will be our secret ;). I've always suspected you were akin to an onion (if you get my Shrek reference).
    14. davyd286, 6 years ago
      Bluboi, yes, isn't it amazing! I have to say, when you posted your earrings, I recognized them right away and thought, "Well, Bluboi, unable to resist collecting fever, has stooped to museum robbery" ;) because what are the chances that four pairs of identical earrings survive 2,000 years and end up on the same continent!
    15. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Haha! I have to admit, I have thought about museum robbery in a number of places and times. What I really hate to think about are the storage areas of all museums, bulging with stuff which will never see the light of day ever again. What a yard sale could be had!
    16. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 6 years ago
      I agree with that statement, if only. It's sad really that these beautiful are put away basically forever.
    17. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 6 years ago
      Sorry I missed the word sorry.
    18. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 6 years ago
      I meant things, I'm multi tasking, watching Tennis, Federer and Murray.
    19. kivatinitz kivatinitz, 6 years ago
      I am astonished....
    20. raven3766 raven3766, 3 years ago
      Oh my goodness, they are beautiful!

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