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 Museum Explorer

Dress and ornament in Ancient Greece

Boat-shaped earrings

Height: 5.600 cm
Width: 2.200 cm (boat)
Weight: 11.400 g (each earring)

GR 1893.11-3.1 (Jewellery 1653-54)

Boat-shaped earrings

From: Eretria, the island of Euboea, Greece
Date: about 420-400 BC

These large gold earrings were found in a grave. Each is a boat with four chains hanging down from it with cockleshells on the end. The winged people in each boat are Sirens, creatures from Greek legend with the body of a bird and the head of a woman.

The Sirens were famous for their beautiful songs which made sailors sail their ships too close to the sharp rocks where the sirens lived. The hero Odysseus managed to get past the sirens by telling his crew to stuff their ears with bees wax so that they could not hear the songs. He himself was tied to the mast of the ship so that he could hear the singing without being able to to his death.