Phoenician,7th-6th century BC
From Tharros, Sardinia
Fine Phoenician craftsmanship
These earrings come from a Phoenician tomb in the cemetery of Tharros, where over seventy tombs were excavated betwen 1853 and 1855. The tombs were in the form of chambers reached by a short passage and a few steps. The body was provided with amulets and personal objects and laid on its back with feet towards the east.
The Canaanites of the Levant coast (known in the first millennium BC as Phoenicians) grew rich by supplying luxury materials to Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Iran. Their natural harbours became major ports for handling international shipping. Commercial contacts were expanded across the Mediterranean and resulted in the establishment of colonies. Carthage was dominant in the west, but Tharros was one of the most important centres, established in the eighth century BC and continuing to thrive into the first millennium AD.
The Phoenicians produced art and craft objects of superb quality. Their jewellery reflects different influences and includes a range of sophisticated techniques, many of which had been developed earlier, but which now reached particular levels of accomplishment. The jewellery from the Tharros tombs is spectacular. These earrings reflect Egyptian influence, and this is in itself a sign of continuity from the Phoenicians' Canaanite roots. The hawks, representing the god Horus, are made of two repoussé plates soldered together. The pyramids beneath are decorated with granulation (the application of tiny globules of gold). One is topped with a larger granule, though this has been lost on the other. Skilled use of granulation had also been characteristic of earlier Canaanite jewellery.
R.D. Barnett and C. Mendleson (eds), Tharros: a catalogue of materi (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)
J.N. Tubb, Canaanites (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)