Bulla shaped gold pendant

4th century BCE
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General Description

Lenticular pendants with a cylindrical suspension eye are generally called bullae. In antiquity, the bulla, referred to by the Romans as Etruscum aurum (Etruscan gold), seems to have been the most characteristic Etruscan jewelry. The earliest recorded examples are in bronze and date to the mid-7th century BCE. Large gold bullae do not seem to have been common before the 5th century BCE.

The lenticular pendant of this bulla is formed of two convex disks of identical size joined at the outer rim. The seam is covered by a thick beaded wire. The pendant is suspended from a piece of gold tubing encircled at each end by a plain wire and wrapped around the center by a beaded wire. A row of gold globules covers the join of pendant to tube. The front of the pendant is decorated in repoussé with two relief figures set against a stipled background. One figure is nude, the other dressed in a long garment. By analogy to similar bullae, there can be no doubt that the scene refers to some aspect of Etruscan mythology. The piece has been restored.

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), 37, 128.

Fun Facts

  • Jewelry was far more than merely ornament to the Etruscans; it was often close to being a magic charm or amulet and implied the protection of the gods.