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Necklace of blue cast glass beads and their gold covers


Height: 1.800 cm

Gift of Professor John Ruskin

GR 1870.10-8.7 (Glass 65);GR 1870.10-8.50 (Jewellery 813)

Room 12b: Greece: Mycenaeans

    Necklace of blue cast glass beads and their gold covers

    Mycenaean, about 1400-1300 BC
    From Tomb 4, Ialysos (modern Triánda), Rhodes, Aegean Sea

    This necklace was made of cast beads of blue glass in the shape of a vase, each carefully wrapped in thin sheet gold. Different numbers of plaques and covers survive from the tomb, indicating that some of the glass ornaments were lost or broken either before they were placed there, or at the time of the excavations.

    The Mycenaeans learned the art of casting glass from the Minoans, a technique which ultimately derived from the Near East. Stone moulds have been found at palace sites like Knossos and Mycenae, carved with shapes for the casting of glass beads and ornaments. Necklaces made of such beads became especially popular in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC. They were easier and cheaper to make than jewellery of precious materials, thus presumably available to a much wider cross-section of Mycenaean society.

    The British Museum also has four plaques from the same tomb, each decorated with a sphinx.

    R. Higgins, Greek and Roman jewellery (London, Methuen, 1980)