Single earring with goat protome

2nd–1st century BCE
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General Description

Toward the end of the 4th century BCE, new shapes and materials were introduced to Greek jewelry. The most ingenious innovation of the Greek goldsmiths of this period is the animal-head earring: a tapering, penannular hoop made of twisted wire with one terminal and the larger end in the form of an animal's head. Earrings like this with the complete forepart of an animal are less common than animal-head earrings. In this example, the earring is composed of three different elements: a spiral-wound hoop with an inner rod; a polychrome section with an oriental pearl, two globular emerald beads, and four granulated gold circlets; and a goat protome worked in the round. The choice of the subject might be a reference to the god Pan or to the Dionysian circle. The head and forepart of the goat are hollow; the legs are made separately and attached. A small loop on the back of the goat's head holds the end of the hoop.

It has been assumed that this design derived from Etruscan lion-head earrings, represented by several examples seen in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art (1991.75.27.a-b, 1991.75.28.a-b). However, it is more likely that the animal-head earring type is a genuine Greek creation, inspired by a long-established type of Greek animal-head bracelets like this lion-headed bracelet (1991.75.52), also in our collection. This is a very sculptural work: the goat springs forward with powerful energy.

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), 62-63, 134.
  • Anne R. Bromberg and Karl Kilinski II, Gods, Men, and Heroes: Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996), 117.