- Museum number
Gold pendant in the form of an engrailed hexagon. In the centre of the pendant is a double solidus of Constantine the Great: on the obverse, a bust of Constantine to left wearing a radiate diadem and cuirass and paludamentum, right hand upraised; around the bust, a Latin inscription; on the reverse, two confronted laureate busts of Constantine II and Crispus, both wearing imperial costume and holding eagle-topped sceptres; around and below them, a Latin inscription. In each angle of the hexagon is a bust in high relief: from top left moving clockwise: female bust with elaborate coiffure looking to right; female bust looking to left; bearded bust looking to left; female bust looking to left; bust of Attis wearing Phrygian cap looking to right; female bust looking to right. Each bust is framed by a circlet of beaded gold wire and a plain collar of gold sheet. The interstices between the busts are decorated in opus interrasile, the design comprising a heart-shaped motif in plain reserved gold from which emanate two vegetal scrolls which in turn form a larger open-work heart; running scroll tendrils fill the spaces between the collars and inner and outer borders; the scroll tendril design is less skilfully replicated on the suspension loop.
- Production date
Diameter: 92 millimetres
Weight: 63.14 grammes
Width: 92.40 millimetres
- Curator's comments
See: P. Strauss, Helvetia Archaeologia 42 (1980), p. 67; Exhibition catalogue Gesichter: griechische und romische Bildnisse aus Schweitzer Besitz, Berne, 1982, pp. 304-05, no. 182; N. Durr and P. Bastien, "Tresor de Solidi", Revue Suisse de Numismatique 63 (1984), 205-19. D. Buckton, "The beauty of holiness: opus interrasile from a Late Antique workshop", Jewellery Studies 1 (1984), pp. 15-20; Revue de Louvre 6 (1973) 367-74; Schweizerische Numismatische Rundschaum 54 (1974) pp. 27-8, no. 52, fig. 9; Exhibition catalogue Age of Spirituality, New York 1977, p. 304, no 276; Apollo 1984, pp. 254 (fig. 8), 257; D. Buckton, "Byzantine coin-set pendant, AD 324-88", National Art-Collections Fund Review 1985, pp. 92-3. J.A. Bruhn, Coins and Costume in Late Antiquity (Washington DC), 16-22; B. Deppert-Lippitz, 'Late Roman Splendor: Jewelry from the Age of Constantine', Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 1 (1996), 30-71; S.A Boyd and S.R. Zwirn, Addendum in M.C. Ross, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Medieval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, vol. 2, Jewelry, enamels and art of the Migration period (Washington DC, 2005), 141-159. A. Demandt and J. Engemann (eds), Konstantin der Grosse (Mainz, 2007), CD Rom no I.11.6; Michele Adolati, I Pendenti Monetali del Tesoro di Sidi Bu Zeid (Libia): Nuovi Spunti Cronologici Sull'Impiego Dess'Opus Interrasile, in: Isabella Baldini and Anna Lina Morelli, Tempo i preziosi: Tecniche di datazione per l'oreficeria tardoantica e medievale (Bologna, 2017), 7-30
Compare with AF 332
Compare with 1980,0501.1
Associated dates : 321 (coin struck).
Coin-set jewellery was popular during the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods. This pendant is one of four or five from the same necklace and is set with a double solidus of Constantine I (306-337) specially minted at Sirmium (present-day Sremska Mitrovica, in Serbia) in 321.
The beautifully carved heads surrounding the coin are highly individualized, almost portraits. They probably represent mythological figures. Pierced work, opus interrasile, was a technique commonly used in jewellery of the period.
- On display (G41/dc8/sB)
- Exhibition history
2012-2013 Oct- Mar, Palazzo Reale, Milan, Constantine 313 A.D.
2008 25 Oct-2009 22 Mar, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Byzantium 330-1453 AD
2007 2 Jun-4 Nov, Germany, Trier, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Constantine the Great
2005 13 Mar-4 Sep, Italy, Rimini, Castel Sismondo, Constantine the Great
1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image
1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
- Associated events
- Commemoration of: Second Consulship of Constantine II and Crispus
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The National Art Collections Fund made a contribution of 20,000 to the purchase of the pendant.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number