Fragment of a Greek Funerary Diadem

£ 150.00

An Ancient Greek diadem fragment, hammered from a thin layer of high karat gold. The piece features a procession of three stylised figures walking towards the right, with their chins up, and holding in their hands what could be identified as statuettes of the winged goddess of victory, Nike. The fragment is bordered by a continuous geometrical frieze rendered in repoussé technique. The original holes used for fastening the diadem to the forehead are still visible. Although the original owner of the diadem cannot be identified, we might suggest that the diadem would have been made for the burial of an individual whose life was associated with victory, such as an athlete. Indeed, in Ancient Greece, athletes were greatly admired and often rewarded for their victories with ribbon diadems and with material goods.

Date: Circa 5th - 1st century BC
Condition: Extremely fine, with details still clearly visible. Signs of ageing to the surface.


In Ancient Greece, as in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth, social status and privilege. There, however, this was not only true for the living but also for the dead as this diadem reminds us: it was not designed for everyday life, as it appears too delicate and fragile. Rather, it was created for funeral purposes and decorated the forehead of a wealthy deceased. Indeed, the carrier of successful athletes could make them extremely wealthy, whether they were runners, boxers or wrestlers. They could have therefore decided to confirm their status in the afterlife with a precious gold diadem. Originally, diadems consisted in plain ribbons tied around the head, used as a symbol of power for men: this simple principle is what inspired gold funerary diadems. However, with time, diadems started being used by women too and became more and more sophisticated and elaborated in shape and decorative motives. The phenomenon reached its peak during the Hellenistic period, with diadems modelled in pure gold in the shape of laurel or oak leaves.



Weight 0.46 g
Dimensions L 4.5 x H 1.4 cm

Greek Mythology