Gold-plated spirals, probably earrings

From Sarcophagus II in Tomb 256 at Amathus, Cyprus
About 425-400 BC

A Cypriot speciality

These spirals of gold-plated bronze terminate in horned griffins' heads. They are not quite a pair, but were probably worn as such. Each griffin head is made of sheet gold, and is attached to the spiral by a collar with scales filled with blue and green enamel, and a gold rosette at the front. The eyes were also once enamelled; another pair preserve a black pupil in a white iris.

One of the griffins has droplets filled with enamel on the ruff of the neck. The caps at the other ends of the spirals are also attached by collars, one of which is corrugated, while the other has a plainer collar with blue and green enamelled leaves above. Both caps have a domed top divided into sections by leaves filled with enamel. The spirals have copper alloy cores covered by gold plate.

As these are a pair and other true pairs with this type of terminal have been found in Cyprus, it seems probable that they were earrings, rather than hair rings. Parallels outside Cyprus are difficult to find and they seem to have been a Cypriot speciality introduced to southern Italy, but not elsewhere.

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More information


D. Williams and J. Ogden, Greek gold: jewellery of the c (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Diameter: 2.900 cm (about)
Weight: 245.000 g

Museum number

GR 1894.11-1.450-1 (Jewellery 1646-7)


Miss E.T. Turner Bequest excavations


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