The Jewels of The Ancient World – Part One

By | April 20, 2022

Even in the Ancient World people have tried to look their best and therefore decorated their bodies with different types of adornments.

In West Asia, the most common materials were beads. Perhaps their purpose was such as it is today i.e were strung in order to make jewelry or hang on clothes. They were made of hard-to-find materials with bright colors.

The creation and production of substitutes for scarce and expensive materials play an important role in the history of jewelry to this day. The high demand for this product encourages the development of wide trading by a narrow network of contacts established even before 5000 BC.

The necropolis of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur (southern Iraq) reveals an abundance of jewelry such as necklaces, worn as early as 3000 BC. They were commonly constructed of beads, made ​​from locally available materials, such as shells and glass clay (one of the forerunners of today’s glass from which are made imitations of stones of different colors). In a tomb near the deceased were found many ornaments, among which seals, lapis lazuli, and gold. They wore the look of their owner and were widespread in southern Mesopotamia from the Sumerian period to the first millennium BC.

The men of this period often wore gold chains with three large jewels on the front side, while the women’s jewelry was much more complex. We find evidence of gold ornaments for heads in the shape of flowers and leaves, large crescent earrings, pendants and necklaces, brooches and beautiful pins for fastening the clothes, different rings, and beads.

The precious metals were probably imported from the high mountains of Turkey and Iran, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, and the carnelian from India. Agate, a multicolored semiprecious stone appears much earlier among the jewelry from the necropolis of the city of Ur.

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