Pair of earrings with female figure

late 4th century BCE
more object details

General Description

Hoop earrings comprising complete figures are extremely rare in ancient Greece. In this unusual pair, the bodies of young girls form an essential part of the hoop and are paired with a solid, tapering rod covered with tightly coiled wires. The females' feet rest on a pedestal formed by the broad end of the rod. The opposite end of the rod can be inserted into a small loop at the back of the head to form a complete hoop. Each female wears a short garment around the hips but is otherwise nude. The arms are raised, and the hands touch the "melon coiffure." Both figures have globular ear pendants.

The figure was probably created using lost-wax casting. In this method, a wax model was encased in clay and heated. The clay would harden and the wax would run off, leaving a precise negative shape of the wax model. Molten metal (in this case, gold), was poured into the clay mold to produce the desired cast. Most cast ancient jewelry is small because the pieces are solid and therefore were expensive to produce.

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), 25, 64, 132.