In Ancient Phoenicia, as in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth, social status and privilege. 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 is too thin and fragile. Rather, it was created for funeral purposes and decorated the forehead of a wealthy deceased. Phoenician and Greek tombs were rich in gold and silver plaques as they could decorate not only bodies but also clothing and, in some specific case, help the soul to reach the afterlife.
Phoenician Silver Funerary Diadem with Theseus
An extremely fine Ancient Phoenician diadem hammered from a thin layer of silver. The diadem features three decorated compartments, each divided by a series of repousse dots. The two laterals compartments feature respectively the depiction of a draped standing female figure and what looks like to be a combat scene between an animal and a male figure, while the central compartment displays a male figure portrayed demi-bust. All the figures are rendered in repousse technique. The central figure is portrayed frontally and bare chested, with facial and anatomical features emphasised, and with a stylised wavy coiffure. The three scenes might be part of one larger narrative, relating to the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, with the central figure being a portrait of the Greek hero Theseus, and the lateral scenes, respectively the representation of Theseus against the Minotaur and princess Ariadne.
Condition: Fine, some signs of erosion and ageing.