Hellenistic gold diadem
Hellenistic gold diadem
Approx. 330 BC to 275 BC.
Early hellenistic period, during or shortly after the lifetime of Alexander the Great. Because of the relatively short fashion of these diadems and the motif giving this narrow date of manufacture is possible.
Magnificent diadem in the shape of a pediment, corresponding to ancient Greek temple architecture. The gold sheet is embossed with a floral decoration, it was pressed into an engraved stone mold during production. The full area is covered by palmettes, volutes, an acanthus leaf and lotus blossoms, supplemented by small birds and grasshoppers.
The diadem was either attached to another material, such as leather or fabric, and was worn on the forehead in life. Or it was made and worn solely as a burial object, without the need for backing. This purpose is the more likely. In any case, holes on the sides were used for attachment to the head.
A typical motif for diadems of this type is the acanthus leaf. It is also known from southern Italian vase painting of the fourth century BC. On the other hand, the birds and grasshoppers depicted on this specimen are rarer and more enigmatic. Based on the find locations of the comparative pieces mentioned below, it can be concluded that the present diadem also comes from the Greek colonies of the eastern Mediterranean area, presumably from the Anatolia region.
31.4cm wide, 6.5cm high. The acrylic plate the diadem is mounted on measures 34cm x 9.5cm.
Wonderfully preserved details of the flat relief. The thin sheet metal is fragile and is torn in four places throughout or almost entirely. There are small defects and damages on the edge. A hole on the outer edge is ancient and was used to attach the diadem. Very good condition for a gold diadem of this type. Tensioned with nylon thread on a base plate made of acrylic glass.
Acquired by us in 2021 on the German art market. At German auction house Gerhard Hirsch in September 2016, lot no. 1074. Previously in a German family collection since before 1960.
The diadem is published in Herbert Hoffman, Patricia F. Davidson, Greek Gold. Jewelry from the Age of Alexander (Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1965), p. 67f, no. 7.
The book was created in the course of an US exhibition of Hellenistic jewellery running from 1965 to 1966. The renowned Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Brooklyn Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond were the organizers and venues. R. A. Higgins, the well-known archaeologist and curator at the British Museum, shortly thereafter described the catalogue by Hoffman and Davidson as the standard work for years to come (The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 88 from 1968, p. 242).
Cf. Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 06.1217.1. The piece is from a find at Madytos in ancient Thrace.
A similar diadem in the British Museum is from the treasure of Kyme in ancient Aeolis, another piece in the Istanbul museum is from the island of Rhodes.
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