Pair of ear pendants

early 3rd century BCE
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General Description

In contrast to Greek animal-head earrings (1991.75.62.a-b, 1991.75.63.a-b) created in the late 4th century BCE, the equally popular pendant earrings already had a long history by that time. The earliest examples date to the 6th century BCE. In the 4th century BCE, when the type enjoyed its principal vogue, pieces became more and more elaborate and enriched. During the following two centuries, the basic scheme remained unchanged: a decorative disk hides the ear wire and supports a pointed pendant. This simple scheme allowed numerous elaborations.

Attached to the disk of each earring in this pair is a pendant in the shape of a twisted, fluted cone, terminating in a vase-shaped ornament. The disk bears a frontal female head in relief, surrounded by a beaded circle. The head wears a diadem and earrings. An ornamented outer border is formed of plain, twisted, and beaded wires. A strip of sheet gold, ribbed vertically and horizontally, is attached to the outer edge of the disk, which has a hook on the back. Two small loops, one holding the other behind a rosette, support the cone-shaped pendant. The upper part of the pendant is embellished with an ornamental frieze of decorative wires- beaded, plain, and herringbone- and with a fringe of tongues, outlined with fine beaded wires. The apparent twisting of the cone is accentuated by lines of fine beaded wires set into the grooves and betrays the baroque tendencies characteristic of Hellenistic jewelry.

Adapted from

  • Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 64, 135.