Gold bracelet

Roman Empire
1st century CE
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General Description

Buried with ingots of gold (1991.75.92.5, 1991.75.92.6), this bracelet (the mate to 1991. was part of a goldsmith's cache discovered in Rome. The burial dates to the 1st century BCE and nicely illustrates the transition from Hellenistic to Roman jewelry. The group is impressive for its total weight of nearly 746 grams, and it also allows a rare glimpse into the work of a Roman goldsmith. These bracelets and other gold pieces (1991.75.92.1, 1991.75.92.3, 1991.75.92.4.a-b) were found buried together.

Each bracelet in this pair consists of 3 spirally wound, strong gold wires. At both extremities, the wires have been forged into a single strand, tapering tward the end. The overlapping ends are coiled around the hoop, forming a strong clasp. The purely abstract design of these spiral bracelets present a new concept in jewelry that is completely different from the Greek aesthetic. Shape and design are no longer determined by a decorative motif, but by the beauty of the material.

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), 108; 144.

Fun Facts

  • In ancient Greece, bracelets were always and only worn in pairs.