Two segments of a diadem

3rd century BCE
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General Description

From an early period in Greek history, ornamented bands made from sheet gold were worn around the head. These diadems varied from simple gold or silver bands to pieces with stamped and applied decorations. Three pieces in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art illustrate the development of the Greek diadem from the Archaic to the Hellenistic periods: an Archaic gold band with separately made rosettes [1991.75.38], a Classic Greek diadem with an ornamental frieze [1991.75.54], and an elaborate, three-dimensional diadem [1991.75.75] that embodies the Hellenistic style.

Here are two curved gold tubes, tapering slightly toward one end, that originally formed part of a diadem made in the Hellenistic Greek style. The inside flat and plain, the surface of the convex outside is completely covered with exquisite filigree and granules. Each tube is divided into decorative sections wowing filigree net, palmettes, a wreath of applied leaves, palmettes again, heart-shaped ornaments encircling palmettes, and three rows of different tongues. There would originally have been an ornament between the segments.

Many diadems have been found in Greek tombs dating to the 6th century BCE and continuing through the Roman period (2nd century BCE). The diadems could have been worn in life at banquets, as victors' prizes in war or athletic competitions, or on religious or civic occasions, but their burial defined a different kind of triumph.

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), 17; 142.