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A Gold, Agate & Faience bead Necklace & Earrings, Achaemenid Period, Persia, ca 550 - 300 BC
Reference No: *MJ1301
A Gold, Agate & Faience bead Necklace & Earrings, Achaemenid Period, Persia, ca 550 - 300 BC
Price : $ 6,000
EUR 5,500.80 GBP 4,623.60 AUD 8,850.00


A superb Achaemenid necklace featuring three 24K gold fan-shaped pendants, six 24K quadruple-spiral gold beads with bright carnelian, jasper, agate beads and deep blue faience spacer beads, together with a matching set of 24K fan-shaped pendant earrings.

The fan shaped pendants, each measuring 1.8cm in length, were cut out by hand and punched in a mold.  The six quadruple-spiral gold beads are each about 1 cm wide and were formed by soldering a flat back plate to a convex upper half with punch-marked decoration, a form that originated in Sumer or Iran in the early third millennium and was imitated thereafter over a wide area for two thousand years.  The motif spread westward as part of the expansion of Mesopotamian culture.  After Ur, the bead form appears at Tell Brak (Syria) by 2200 BC, at Troy (Anatolia) by 2100 BC and reached Mycenae and the Caucasus by 1500 BC.  Examples were excavated at Mari (Syria) dating to 1000 BC.  The spread of the quadruple-spiral beads through so many cultures over such a long time span suggests that the motif retained important (though currently unknown) religious meaning.  The significance of this symbol to the general populace is indicated by the manufacture of these beads in an array of inexpensive materials.  The beads’ original form was created by twisting gold wires into a quadruple spiral.   They were eventually mass produced in cast lead, stamped sheet gold (such as these examples), glass, and faience reflecting the fact that form, supported by symbolism, often changes more slowly than technology.

Bibliography and related example:  Dubin, L.S. "The History of Beads: from 10,000BC to Present" ill. 29

Condition:  Necklace restrung, some expected minor chipping to some beads from wear but overall, all beads are in excellent condition.   The earrings with modern 18K gold posts are also intact and in excellent condition.  Both the necklace and earrings are light and very easy to wear.  Just superb!

Dimensions:  Necklace length: 40cm (16 inches)  Earring drop length:  3.5 cm (1 1/2 inches)

Provenance:  Acquired in Jerusalem in the 1960's, thereafter in a private NY family collection.