Pocket timeline to Mesopotamia, £7.99
Height: 5.750 cm
Width: 2.000 cm
ME 1856-9-9, 72;ME 1856-9-9, 73
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Pair of earrings
Parthian, 2nd century
From Nineveh, northern Iraq
These earrings come from graves on the site of the former Late Assyrian citadel at Nineveh. They were discovered in 1852. Excavations on this mound also suggest the presence there of important buildings. The graves date to a period when Nineveh was an an important town in the independent state of Adiabene, situated between the Parthian and Roman empires. Occasional finds of Roman pottery, coins and military equipment hint that Nineveh may have briefly been incorporated within the eastern Roman Empire.
In the graves bodies had been placed in stone-lined cists roughly built from slabs of stone. It is not clear exactly how many tombs were discovered. Some had been looted in antiquity, though the tombs still contained rich grave-goods.
The tomb from which these earrings came possibly contained two bodies, one of which was identified by the excavator as a woman. The tomb also contained a gold covering for the eyes, finger rings, gold buttons and beads and a coin of the Roman emperor Tiberius (reigned AD 14-37).
J.E. Curtis, 'Parthian gold from Nineveh', British Museum Yearbook, 1 (1976), pp. 47-66
R. Higgins, Greek and Roman jewellery (London, Methuen, 1980)