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Work Temple pendant
Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)
© 1999 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)
The richness and originality of the decoration of this electrum pendant reflects the wealth of Rhodes and the skill of eastern Greek goldsmiths in the 7th century BC, at the crossroads of the Greek and Oriental civilizations. The decorations are typical of the period of Oriental influence, with plant motifs and a bestiary of real and mythological creatures, including a lion, an eagle, and griffins. The two smaller pendants hanging from the main pendant are decorated with dedalic-type heads.
Rhodes: a major Mediterranean trading center during the period of Oriental influence
Greek goldsmith work flourished in the 7th century BC, both in terms of the richness of the shapes and the elegance of the decoration. The major production centers were now the islands, particularly Rhodes. This pendant was found in the Kamiros necropolis on Rhodes. Archeological excavations in the second half of the 19th century uncovered large quantities of luxury objects, many made of precious metals for the local aristocracy. The finds indicate the economic prosperity enjoyed by the inhabitants of Rhodes from the mid-7th century BC onwards. Rhodes, a large island in the southeast Aegean Sea, was at the crossroads of the maritime trading routes between East and West, and was one of the major trading centers, along with Cyprus. The island's prominence as a trading center meant that local goldsmiths were familiar with of the decorative objects produced in the Orient, including new techniques and styles. The electrum used to make this piece of jewelry is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, which was also used at around the same time to produce the earliest Greek and Lydian coinage. This indicates the richness of the eastern reaches of the Greek empire during the period of Oriental influence.
The Oriental influence in decoration
The decoration on this piece of jewelry is extremely original and elaborate, combining two favorite themes of the period - plant motifs and a bestiary of both real and mythological animals. The composition is a combination of an Egyptian theme and the Aegean style. The main rectangular pendant depicts a lion hunting an eagle, framed by rosettes and griffin
Goldsmith work in eastern Greece
The original function of this pendant remains a mystery. Was it designed to be worn at the temples, on the chest, or as part of a belt? Whatever the case might be, it reveals the technical mastery of the eastern Greek goldsmiths in the 7th century BC, at the crossroads of the Egyptian, Levantine, and Anatolian civilizations. The goldsmiths of Rhodes skillfully used techniques that originated in the Orient, such as
BibliographyCoche de la Ferté Etienne, Les Bijoux Antiques, Paris, PUF, 1955,
pp. 55-56, pl. 13.
Greek art of the Aegean islands : an exhibition at the Metropolitan museum of art, cat. exp. Metropolitan museum of art, 1er novembre 1979-10 février 1980, avec la collaboration du musée du Louvre, New York, 1979,
pp. 156-157, n 106.
Laffineur Robert, L'Orfèvrerie rhodienne orientalisante, Athènes, École française d'Athènes ; Paris, diffusion de Boccard, 1978, coll. "Travaux et mémoires - École française d'Athènes, 21", 1978, p. 127 et p. 230, n 199, pl. 23 et pl. 3.
Mer Égée, Grèce des îles, cat. exp. Paris, musée du Louvre,
26 avril-3 septembre, exposition organisée par l'Association française d'action artistique, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1979, pp. 149-150, n 89.
Circa 630-620 BC
Kamiros necropolis, island of Rhodes, Greece
Hammered, stamped, and filigreed electrum; granulation
H. 8.5 cm; W. 3 cm
Auguste Salzmann Excavations; purchased 1863
Bj 2169 (10)
Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n
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