Hellenistic Gold Earrings Adorned with Lion Heads

SKU SJ.0223

300 BC to 100 BC




Israel (Bethlehem)

Gallery Location



Tapering hoops with animal-head finials were an extremely popular design during the Hellenistic period- especially lions, bulls, birds and gazelles. They first appeared in Greece in the 4th Century BC. The form may have originated in Etruria where they date back to the fifth century. The style of some of the animal heads is also suggestive of a link with the art of Achaemenid Persia. The hoops on this splendid pair of earrings are formed from coiled wires which taper to a point at one end. The other end terminates in an ornamental collar from which the head of a lion emerges. The heads are formed from sheet gold worked in repousse. The mouths are open to form a hole for attaching the pin. Surviving classical terracottas and bronze mirrors both depict women wearing this type of earring.
For the popularity of this type of earring during the Hellenistic period see: R. A. Higgins, ‘Greek and Roman Jewellery,’ (London, 1961), pp. 161- 162.

For comparatives see: A. Garside ed. ‘Jewelry: Ancient to Modern,’ (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1979), pp. 80-81. Also, F. H. Marshall, ‘Catalogue of the Jewellery, Greek, Etruscan and Roman in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum,’ (Oxford, 1969), Plate XXXI. – (SJ.0223)

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