Gold wreath

4th century BCE
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General Description

Only a limited number of Etruscan wreaths have survived, although, as in Greece, they played an important role in everyday life. Wreaths were worn on festive occasions and in religious processions; they were awarded as prizes to the victors of games, dedicated in sanctuaries, and buried with the dead. The most characteristic form of Etruscan wreath, the corona sutilis, as it was called by Roman writers, resembles more a diadem than a wreath, as seen here.

This diadem is composed of an oblong section of thin sheet gold with rounded ends. Each end is stamped with the figure of a peacock with tail outspread, iconography perhaps borrowed from Greek mythology. The rest of the surface is covered with layers of veined leaves arranged in rows and pointing toward the center, where a separately made rosette is attached.

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), 38-39; 131.

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.

  • Because this diadem is so thin and fragile, it was likely made for a burial rather than daily wear.