Pendant in the shape of a Hawk
Period: 6th-5th Century B.C.
Material: Gold Sheet
Dimensions: Heigth: 1.8 cm
Ex-private Collection; acquired on the Swiss Art Market in 1995.
This small, fine pendant is in the form of a standing hawk, with wings laid flat against its sides. The figure is intact and stands on a trapezoidal shaped plinth. On the back is a tapered suspension loop decorated with beaded wire around the edges. The loop and the base were constructed from handworked gold and the body received its final shaping by hand. The separate components of the piece were joined by a soldering process so delicate it is almost invisible. The body is cast of solid gold, weighting 8.4g. The hawk stands fully erect, its legs with extended claws firmly perched on what looks like a rock. The tail and the wings are represented by a series of precise parallel incisions. Facial features are executed in extreme detail, showing a sharp and ferocious beak with small incised nostrils, even the delicately chiseled pupils of the round eyes are visible.
The piece is intact with the only signs is wear on the suspension loop and the back edge of the plinth. These signs indicate that the pendant was worn hanging vertically on a soft leather cord against the body or clothing.
Traces of silver and platinum in the gold suggest that the metal came from a river-bed.
The piece compares to Phoenician style jewelry-making, which developed its gold-working techniques from Mycenaeans and Egyptians. Greek jewelry presents a unique mixture of Mediterranean cultures, Egyptian and Phoenician being just two examples, refl ecting Greece’s geographical position in the middle of the Oriental world. The pendant undoubtedly represents Horus, the Egyptian mythological fi gure, which was translated into a local totem. Old-standing commerce relationships between Greece and Egypt intensifi ed during the 5th century BC, when the Egyptian pharaoh Psammetichus I (664-610 B.C.) renewed his trade and diplomatic policies with Greece by employing Greek mercenaries and artisans. The piece is likely to result from this development, demonstrating Greek admiration for Egyptian artistic heritage. The pendant worn around the neck was probably an object of personal devotion and protection, especially if the owner believed in the power of Horus’s healing qualities, and served as an amulet.
The cast technique, in addition to characteristic decoration (beaded wire) of the suspension loop, wich does not appear before the 7th century B.C. and disappears after 500 B.C., point to a date of 6th-5th century BC.
Scientific study: Dr. J. Ogden, Hildesheim, 2002.
WILLIAMS D. – OGDEN J., Greek Gold: Jewelry of the Classical World, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995.
HARDEN D., The Phoenicians, London, 1971.