A Byzantine bronze flattened ring fragment featuring a rhomboid shape which has been elongated at the top where the piece would have presented an attachment component. To the front, the ring is decorated with a central image of Mary, portrayed in the orant prayer pose. A halo shines around her head and two stars fill the field above her upraised arms. The figure is framed by a circular medallion; on either side of it, three circle-and-dot designs are arranged in a triangular shape. The fragment is further embellished by short carved lines to the sides, forming a decorative perimeter which is interrupted at the top by seven horizontal grooves. The reverse remains unworked and displays some cutting marks on the surface.
Date: Circa 9th-11th Century AD Condition: Fragmented, with scratch marks to the back.
The custom of wearing devotional items was derived from the Ancient Roman tradition of wearing amulets depicting mythological symbology as protection against incantations. The Church aimed to purify this belief by substituting pagan images with Christian iconography. Christians were persecuted until the early 4th century AD, with the Great Persecution lasting between 303 and 311 AD. With the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, the emperors Constantine and Licinius granted liberty of cult for all religions, including Christianity. However, it was only in 380 AD, with emperor Theodosius, that Christianity became the only official religion of the Empire.
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