- 4th century BCE
This delicate olive wreath beautifully embodies the intricate workmanship and classically refined forms of gold jewelry created in Greece during the 6th-4th centuries BCE. Made entirely of gold, this headpiece consists of a hollow, tubular stem made in two sections, adorned by separately-made leaves and olives. The leaves and fruit were created by hammering gold ingots to a paper-thin thickness, with leaves then cut to form and accentuated with repoussé contour lines. The three-dimensional olives are open at the back and soldered to tiny stalks. A small hinge, only partly preserved, once held the two sections of the wreath together at the base. There have been some modern repairs and restorations.
Wreaths like this could have been worn in life at banquets, as victors' prizes in war or athletic competitions, or on religious or civic occasions, but they are also frequently recovered from burials. In a funerary setting, the gold wreath symbolized immortality and designated an individual who had led a distinguished life. The earliest known Greek wreath was found in a 7th century BCE deposit at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, near Sparta.
Anne R. Bromberg, DMA unpublished material.
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), 17; 142.
- Wreaths in the form of olive leaves are rare, compared to wreaths composed of oak, ivy, myrtle, or vine.