Greek gold

Greeks and jewelry

Jewellery is meant to be worn, and this was also the Greek view. Jewellery underlines the beauty of the wearer and confers social status. What has survived is mostly gold, but there were also pieces in silver, bronze and even terracotta, depending on the wealth of the person acquiring. The raw gold came mainly from Persia.

Greek jewellery was assembled from separate components which were hammered into shape from a thin sheet of gold in moulds. Hatchings and figures were gouged from the gold and the craftsmen often worked with filigree - thin, twisted threads of gold with which highly delicate decorations were applied.

The Greeks offered jewels to the gods and used them to decorate divine images. However, the jewellery in the Hermitage collection relates to the rich funerary culture of the various Pontic colonies. As with the Egyptians and the Chinese, the burial chamber was filled with essential and useful artefacts for the journey to the hereafter and life there. Wealthier Greeks were buried in mounds or tumuli. In the burial mound of the Seven Brothers the skeletons of no less than thirteen horses lay next to the deceased. Gold objects and large jewels were found in the burial chamber. More personal jewellery such as earrings, chains, plaques and laurel wreaths were put on the body itself.

Greek influence on goldsmith's work in the Pontic area is evident from the 6th century BC. The animal art of the original inhabitants, the Scythians, disappeared and Greek design gradually became dominant, not least because of the arrival of many goldsmiths from Greece in search of wealthy clients. The many archaeological finds show that a flourishing state existed on the northern shore; its wealth came from large supplies of grain from the hinterland.

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55