obolos 20
3 October 2021
Lot 1549
HELLENISTIC GREEK. A collection of four circular attachments with the head of Dionysos, 2nd-1st century BC. (Gold, 20 mm). Brief report of Dr. Jack Ogden, Director of Striptwist Ltd, 14 August 2013 (provided with the four attachments): 'These small circular attachments have a frontal head in high relief, probably intended as Dionysos, despite the rather feminine features. The head and its flat surround are formed from a single piece of sheet gold that has been shaped by working it over a 'former', almost certainly of copper alloy. The head is bordered by a single line of spiral beaded wire, a type of decorative wire that is characteristic of ancient Classical gold jewellery - both Etruscan and Greek. The edges of the sheet gold have been burnished or hammered smooth, giving a slightly flared edge. The reverse of the attachments has two lateral attachment ,straps’ in gold strip which are distorted, almost certainly as a result of ancient use when the objects were attached to a backing, perhaps a harness, by a cord or leather strap. This distortion and the flared, smooth rim to the disc are strong indications that the objects were made to be used, not simply as funerary decorations. It can be noted that although a later Hellenistic date is given above, an early Roman date is not impossible. In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Greek jewellery-making tradition (both technical and stylistic) survived for a couple of centuries. The weigh of the pieces [1.83 g, 1.81 g, 1.90 g, 1.70 g] may be relevant here. Gold coins, supplied by customers, often formed the raw material for jewellers and this is almost exactly one quarter of the weight of the aureus gold coin under Nero, and a weight that occurs far more often in Roman gold jewellery from the Eastern Empire than chance alone would dictate. The style, manufacture, signs of wear and the general surface texture and appearance of the gold are consistent with an ancient origin. Cf. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston inv. No. 1972.200 (Head of Aphrodite). A lovely group of great style and in particularly good condition. Good very fine to extremely fine.
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Starting Price: 2000 CHF