About this artwork
Objects of Personal Adornment
Women in the Late Antique world—as today—relied on clothing, cosmetics, elaborate hairstyles, and jewelry to enhance their appearance and indicate their standing in society.
While early Christian church writers such as Saints Paul (d. 67), Clement of Alexandria (d. 215), and John Chrysostom (d. about 407) strongly criticized the wearing of makeup, elaborate coiffures, and luxurious clothing, the surviving material record suggests that their exhortations fell on mostly deaf ears. The elegantly coiffed young woman whose marble portrait head appears nearby would have turned to items of adornment in her daily beauty rituals.
This necklace would have lent an appearance of far greater wealth to its owner than the actual value of its component parts. Made of gold and glass, the necklace includes silvered glass beads circled by flat gold disks that were meant to look like large pearls. The rounded end of the clasp does contain one small pearl, surrounded by gold wirework that imitates the gold openwork typical of early Byzantine jewelry between the third and the seventh century.
- Roman Empire
- 401 AD–500 AD
- Gold, glass, and silvered glass beads (modern setting)
- L. 60 cm (23 5/8 in.); diam. 0.5 cm (3/16 in.)
- Gift of Theodore W. and Frances S. Robinson