In the Hellenistic period, the Greek world enjoyed great prosperity after Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire made vast resources of gold available for the first time. The various royal courts of Alexander's successors, including the Ptolemies in Egypt, comprised a wealthy clientele with a taste for luxury.
The group of gold jewelry discussed here—including earrings, finger rings, bracelets, beads, and a hairnet—consists of seventeen spectacular pieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum. The author takes us on a journey through three centuries, beginning about B.C. 350, from the empire-building Alexander to the beguilingly ambitious Cleopatra VII. This sweep through the turbulent history of the eastern Mediterranean gives a picture of the Greek-Egyptian blending of religion and art. The author demonstrates how the symbolism of dynastic power plays a central role in the interpretation of each object and in understanding the assemblage as a whole. Discussing their style, iconography, and craftsmanship, he convincingly places the jewelry in late third-century-B.C. Ptolemaic Egypt and argues for the original owner's royal connections.
A specialist in Hellenistic metalwork, Michael Pfrommer is associate professor of classical archaeology at the University of Trier in Germany and the author of Metalwork from the Hellenized East. His article in Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum, Volume 2 is an in-depth scholarly interpretation of the jewelry discussed in this volume.96 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches
34 color and 41 b/w illustrations
2 line drawings, 1 map
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum