Greek Art - Ancient Gold Jewellery


Book Details

Author  Aikaterini Despini
Publisher  Ekdotike Athenon
Publication Date   December 1, 2006
ISBN  9602133112
Pages  292

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Jewellery appeared worldwide during the early phases of civilisation, when man, through his belief in the existence of supernatural forces and magic, laid down the substrate of religion. In those times, and for many centuries after, jewellery was regarded as having the power to attract benign forces or to avert evil, functioning as a magical medium. Its association with metals was of decisive importance, not least with gold which, being imperishable and untarnishable, was the only metal charged of itself with supernatural properties. In time the human intellect put aside the magical character of jewellery, though it was never cast off completely. By the beginning of the first millennium BC, to which the works of Greek goldsmithing discussed in this book belong, jewellery already had a long tradition behind it. Its form was often affected by the religious and metaphysical concepts of the age, as is succinctly noted in the Introduction. The manufacture of Greek gold jewellery depended on the possibility of access to the precious metal, the sources of and the techniques of working which, interwoven with myth and lore, are examined in sub-chapters. The founding of the colonies at first and the Macedonian expansion later, brought the Greeks into contact with both supplies of the raw material and traditional centres of goldsmithing, from where they also received new ornament types. These they transmuted, giving them a Greek identity, eventually creating a common language of jewellery that spread from the northern shores of the Euxine Pontus to Egypt, and from Italy to Asia. The development of jewellery is examined by category and bears witness to the influence of those same historical factors as contributed to the development of major art in the Hellenic world. Greek goldsmiths often emulated its achievements, also endowing this genre of the so-called minor arts with unique masterpieces.

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