Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
uses Google technology and indexes only and selectively internet - libraries having books with free public access

page 30

beads of glass, amethyst, cornelian and other materials, some of which are engraved and moulded, and disks of gold, which exhibit the concentric ring pattern so frequent in the archaic works of nearly all nations, and recognisable as Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, or Scandinavian, according to the locality in which they have been found. Such concentric rings occur on terra-cotta vases, personal jewellery, arms, and, indeed, nearly everywhere. Herr Hèlbig1 seems to have supposed that this pattern is due to metal-working artificers. It appears to me that this is archaeological criticism of a somewhat fanciful sort. A pattern of concentric rings is exactly such as would almost suggest itself to any one seeking to decorate an object of any material which admitted enrichment by impressions from tools or fingers while being manufactured in a lathe, or subjected to the use of stamps; indeed, stamps capable of being used to produce such impressions on clay have been found in Egypt and, if my memory does not deceive me, in Assyria. After the chevrons of the almost universal chevron ornament, the primitive type of decorations, were exhausted, the concentric ring arrangement was the next resource of the aboriginal decorator: we need not trouble ourselves with cumbrous affectations of learning on this point, nor send primitive Indo-European artists to the East for such crude notions as they, or any one not absolutely imbecile, could be relied on to apply out of their own heads. Undoubtedly this ring pattern very often occurs in works of metal; but, in another mode of application it is the most common of all decorations to vases, paterae, and other vessels of all countries, and, one might say of all ages, from the completely barbarous to the most cultivated.


1 Annali d'Inst. Arch., 1875, p. 221.

Another specimen which I have was found at Salamis, and is, as usual, very Greek. It consists (fig. 19) of prisms of emerald glass, strung on knotted wires of gold, and having a pendant like a fir cone, or rather bottle, a tiny amphora in fact, not intended, of course, for use in holding scent, but simply as an ornament of a kind illustrated by innumerable examples. Pendants, which may have been applied to earrings as well as to necklaces, appear (see Plate i, fig. 34), where amethysts are set in little oblong boxes of gold, with triangular groups of grape-

like disks of dark blue glass suspended from them in their turn, each of which is enclosed in its proper frame of gold. Amethysts are not uncommon in this mass of jewellery, but less common than carbuncles, still less so than cornelians and sards. This is generally the order of such remains of antiquity, and it is due to the frequency of the materials themselves in the countries to which I refer. There are a few-pearls, most of which are of irregular shapes. Amber, which is so extremely frequent in Greek, Crimean, the more ancient Etrurian, and Roman jewellery, and is the most common of the quasi precious materials in northern graves, such as British interments and otherwise, does not occur. The fact that most of the ancient amber was brought from the coasts of the Baltic, which still yield great quantities of the material, allows us to account for the characteristic abundance of the substance in northern antiquities.1 Homer mentioned the offering of a Phœnician trader, "Beads of bright amber, riveted in gold," to the Queen of Syra.2 Nevertheless, and quite contrary to our expectations, amber has rarely been found in Cyprus, and I found none.3 I have been compelled by considerations of convenience to group here with the necklaces certain fragments of jewellery which may have belonged to ear-rings; on the other hand, the reader will find among objects described in the class of miscellaneous relics a few which probably were parts of necklaces.

1 So abundant is amber in British graves, that in one series of excavations made in a cemetery of no great extent in Norfolk, not fewer than seven hundred beads were recovered. In England, Denmark, and Scandinavia, it would be an exceptional circumstance to find a group of interments without any amber.
2 Odyssey, xv, 560.
3 Signor Castellani, in his valuable tract, Orìficeria Italiana (Roma, 1872), describes the archaic jewellery found in the Etruscan provinces, and notices the great quantity of amber which, with some silver and less gold,

Back to Topic
Our banners   Bibliography   Global Folio
All materials from this site are permitted for non commersial use unless otherwise indicated.
If you reduplicate documents from here you have to indicate Cyprus Explorer as a source and place link to us.
Created at June 2008