Bracelet

CULTURE:
Etruscan
DATE:
mid 7th century BCE
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General Description

In antiquity, bracelets were usually worn in pairs. However, the number of surviving Greek and Etruscan bracelets is surprisingly small. This Etruscan bracelet is a rectangular strip of repoussé-decorated sheet gold with slightly narrower extensions of equal length. Attached to the end of one extension is a separately made strip of grooved sheet gold with a loop of round section wire. Attached to the back of the other extension, hidden from the front, is a little hook. The edges of the bracelet curl over and cover a reinforcing copper-alloy wire. The gold strip is divided into sections of stamped figural and ornamental decoration.

A stamped guilloche ("rope") pattern divides the wider, central area into 1 narrow and 3 large zones and each of the extensions into two narrow registers. Each of the larger zones contains the same pattern: a stylized palm tree flanked by sphinxes standing upright on their hind legs. In one rectangle the pattern is stamped upside-down in relation to the other two. The more narrow zone contains a procession of three sphinxes with two palm trees. This procession motif is repeated on the outer register of one extension, while the inner register displays only three sphinxes. On the other extension the outer register is stamped with lotus trees, the inner one with three sphinxes. Sphinxes had a funerary meaning in the ancient world, since they were used as grave guardians.

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.