Rare Roman Cameo Gold Earring

$1,769.50

A delicate Roman gold earring comprising an oval-box-like bezel, set with a cameo of Medusa. Carved in low-relief, the Gorgon’s face displays plump cheeks and frowning brows. Her most recognisable attribute, hair made of snakes, is here rendered with a band wrapped around her face and marked by slanted grooves. The surrounding plate is decorated with incuse triangular decorations in radial fashion. From the trapezoid bar at the base are suspended three pelleted drops, ornamented with cabochon garnets and a glass bead at the base of the central drop. Earrings of this kind were known as ‘crotalia’ (from the Greek word for ‘rattle’ or ‘castanets’) because the pearl pendants would produce a jingling noise when worn. They were extremely popular with Roman ladies, and numerous examples have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Date: Circa 1st - 2nd Century AD
Condition: Very fine condition.

In stock

SKU: F-495 Category: Tag:

The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. Roman jewellery at first followed trends set by the Etruscans, using gold and glass beads, but as the power and spread of the Roman Empire increased, so too did jewellery designs became increasingly elaborate. Different cultural styles from Greece, Egypt, North Africa, and the Orient were all incorporated to reflect Rome’s prosperity as a dominant, conquering city. The wide range of natural resources enabled artisans to create ostentatious jewellery using a diverse selection of materials: this increasingly included sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, garnet and amber from India, and pearls (which were particularly prized). Archaeological finds of Roman jewellery are relatively rare, considering the magnitude of Roman civilisation, and the historical and geographical span of the Empire.

Earrings of this kind were known as ‘crotalia’ (from the Greek word for ‘rattle’ or ‘castanets’) because the pearl pendants would produce a jingling noise when worn. They were extremely popular with Roman ladies, and numerous examples have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

To find out more about ancient jewellery please see our relevant blog post: The History and Mythology of Gemstones in Ancient Jewellery.

 

Weight 3 g
Dimensions H 3.5 cm
Culture

Region

Metal

Semi-Precious Stones

Reference: For similar cf. Ruseva- Slokoska, Roman Jewellery, 1991, Cat. No. 50a.

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