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Crescent-shaped pendant

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: Greek-Hellenistic
: 1st century B.C.
: Gold
: Height: 3.2 cm

Acquired on the German art market in 1993.


This pendant, which takes the shape of a faceted crescent, is partly decorated with granulated triangles. Three five-petal rosettes embellish the joins between the hoop and the pyramid-shaped finials as well as the join between the crescent and the loop.

Crescent-shaped pendants like this one were primarily meant to protect the wearer. The care and attention given to the piece illustrates the love of detail, the sense of proportion, the care, and the technical skill that late-Hellenistic goldsmiths were willing to devote to even small ornaments.  

The crescent is originally a western Asiatic motif that found its way to Greece at a very early stage. In jewelry it became popular in the Hellenistic period.

Almost certainly it is identical with the silver meniskoi mentioned in Hellenistic treasure inventories of the Artemision on Delos. In amulet form, it remained popular even in the Roman imperial periods. 


For the meniskoi mentioned in temple inventories, see :

MILLER ST., pp. 29f., n. 170.

For related material in the British Museum, London, see:

MARSHALL F. H., Catalogue of the Jewellery, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman, in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum (1911), no. 2719.

For that in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, see :

HOFFMANN H., Antiker Gold- und Silberschmuck (1968), nos. 30-31.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, see

RUSEVA SLOKOSKA L., Roman Jewellery: A Collection of the National Archaeological Museum, Sofia (1991), nos. 120-26.

For depictions of crescent pendants in Egyptian mummy portraits, for instance a fine example from Hawara in the British Museum, see:

Ancient Faces (1997), pp. 43f., nos. 17-18.

For a large lunula pendant on a second-century portrait, see:

HORAK U.  in Bilder aus dem Wüsensand (1998), p. 120, no. 30, color plate.


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