DETAIL: A well preserved, though very simple, primitive Roman bronze bracelet constructed of stock which leans toward square, circa first century AD. It would fit a woman of very slight build, and with that caveat, is completely and eminently wearable. The bracelet was recovered unbroken and intact. As is ordinarily the case, the artifact exhibits moderately heavy porosity (surface pitting caused by burial in earth). Unlike so many smaller bronze artifacts which are completely disfigured by corrosion, this particular piece happened to come to rest in reasonably gentle soil conditions. The consequence is that though you can see clear evidence that this bracelet spent millennia buried beneath the ground, nonetheless to casual examination it is quite pleasant, with the rich, warm glow of ancient bronze.
Of course in these photo enlargements, or to close scrutiny, these blemishes are quite distinct. The entire bracelet bears witness to the fact that it spent two thousand years buried in soil. It bears little pits, bites, and dimples on every surface. However in hand, worn on the arm, to the casual observer, it simply appears a nicely toned bronze bracelet. Though simple it is sturdy and well constructed, and entirely intact. Despite the obvious signs of burial, the piece is not heavily corroded or disfigured as are commonly most smaller ancient metal artifacts. Many small ancient metal artifacts such as this are extensively disfigured and suffer substantial degradation as a consequence of the ordeal of being buried for millennia. It is not at all unusual to find metal artifacts decomposed to the point where they are not much more substantial than discolored patterns in the soil. In comparison, this bracelet is in relatively good condition, intact and complete, handsome, it is a very distinctive and uncommon piece of ancient jewelry.
This particular specimen does not exhibit the workmanship which would be characteristic of high-end jewelry. Rather this is a specimen as one might expect to find on the common Roman citizen. Nonetheless it is a wonderful and example of early Roman jewelry. The bracelet is not large, and would be unlikely to fit anyone today except a lady of very slight proportions. However given that ancient populations were considerably smaller than contemporary populations, would likely have been worn by an adult woman of the ancient Roman world. However in any event, the bracelet could be worn by someone of very slight, petite build. Although one could wear the bracelet throughout ordinary daily activities, if one was planning on working on a car, running a lawn mover, operating a jackhammer, or playing football or rugby, one would be best advised to remove the bracelet first. A very hard blow could break it. But a little care, it could even be worn on a daily basis.
However inasmuch as it is too small for most anyone to wear (at least a contemporary adult), the bracelet could also be worn on a chain as illustrated. Worn as a pendant, it would make a very distinctive and uncommon piece of ancient jewelry. We would be happy to include the 24 inch copper/bronze tone chain depicted. When worn for a few weeks, the bright red-orange color would slowly fade to dark brown, and would (approximately) match the tone of the bracelet. Upon request, we also have other chains available in various metals from solid 14kt gold to sterling silver, as well as gold and silver electroplate, as well as gold or silver tone, in lengths from 16 inches to 24 inches in length. For a more authentic touch, and for a chain which would wear much more gently against the bronze metal bracelet, we also have available handcrafted Greek black leather cords.
The Romans were very fond of jewelry and other personal adornments. Typical jewelry included bracelets worn both on the forearm as well as upper arm, rings, brooches, pendants, earrings, hair pins, as well as decorative buckles and fibulae. This is a very durable and representative example of a Roman bracelet, and it could easily be worn and enjoyed. If you request (follow the links below), we could mount the bracelet onto a framed display plaque (see it here), and it would make a great gift. The plaque narrates a brief outline of the history of ancient Rome along with an image of some very famous architectural remains in Rome.
It would make a very handsome gift, for yourself or a friend, and would surely delight a son or daughter. It would not only make a very handsome display, but would be very educational as well. If you prefer, the bracelet could be installed within a glass-front shadow box with or without printed history (see it here). This particular piece of ancient jewelry is an interesting historical relic which pertains not only to the history of Rome, but also to the history of jewelry production. Whether worn as a pendant or displayed (perhaps on a plaque), it is an evocative and authentic “souvenir” of the Roman Empire, the greatest military power, and one of the most advanced civilizations of the ancient world.
HISTORY OF ROMAN JUDAEA: Following the exile of King Herod Archelaus in 6 A.D., Judaea was annexed to the Roman province of Syria. Between then and the outbreak of the first Judaean Revolt in 66 A.D., a series of fourteen Procurators (Governors) ruled over Judaea from the magnificent harbor city built by Herod I at Caesarea. The first of these governors imposed a census of Jews so as to levy heavy taxes. Many of the later Governors of Judaea were increasingly and especially cruel, including Pontius Pilate, Antonius Felix, Albinus, and the last (before the revolt), Gessius Florus. The final insult was when in 66 A.D., Gessius Florus demanded that Jerusalem's Temple pay him a large amount of money for his own personal use. In protest the Jews quit making daily sacrifices to the reigning Roman Emperor (Nero), and the insult amounted to a declaration of war.
Several different factions of Jews were able to band together long enough to rout the Roman garrisons stationed in and around Jerusalem. In response, the Romans massacred innocent Jews elsewhere throughout the Empire. In Ceasarea 20,000 Jews were put to death in the space of an hour. In Damascus, Syria, the Roman garrison there executed 10,000 Jews. Rome's 12th Legion was dispatched from Syria to put down the revolt, but the Jewish rebels were able to repel these troops. Roman Emperor Nero then dispatched his greatest general against the Jewish rebels, Vespasian, leader of Rome's armies to victories in Britain and Germany, and gave him command of some of Rome's most elite forces.
Vespasian first encircled the Jewish forces around Galilee, which fell within a few months. By the middle of 68 A.D., Vespasian's troops had crushed the revolt throughout all of Palestine, with the exception of Jerusalem and the zealot fortress of Massada. Vespasian was forced to return to Rome upon the death of Nero, and the resulting civil wars which rocked Italy. Vespasian was declared Emperor by his troops, as well as the troops in Alexandria and in the Danube region. Fighting his way into Rome, Vespasian vanquished the army of his rival Lucius Vitellius, and within a year he victoriously claimed his throne in Rome.
Upon his arrival in Rome, Vespasian dispatched his son in his stead to finish off the Jewish rebels. The city of Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed. An estimated 1,100,000 Jews died in the war, and the golden Menorah and the other holy implements of the temple were taken to Rome as booty and eventually lost to history. Some historians believe that the mountain fortress of Massada, near the Dead Sea, held off the Roman Legions for another three years. The era was of enormous consequence not only for those of the Jewish faith, but for all of Christianity, and the coinage leading up to the Revolt as well as the coinage struck by the rebels during the revolt are of tremendous significance.
ROMAN HISTORY: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old ancient Roman artifact. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.)
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. For a brief time, the era of “Pax Romana”, a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. The decline was temporarily halted by third century Emperor Diocletian. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine again managed to temporarily arrest the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
In the ancient world valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably the owners would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, thousands of years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day thousands of years after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these ancient treasures.
HISTORY OF BRONZE: Bronze is the name given to a wide range of alloys of copper, typically mixed in ancient times with zinc, tin, lead, or arsenic. The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were better than previously possible. Tools, weapons, armor, and building materials made of bronze were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors from the “Chalcolithic” (the “Copper Age”), i.e., about 7000-3500 B.C., and the Neolithic (“New Stone Age”), i.e. about 12000 to 7000 B.C.). Of particular significance were bronze agricultural implements, tools for cutting stone, and weapons. Culturally significant was bronze statuary, particularly that of the Romans and Greeks. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a long history of making statuary in bronze. Literally thousands of images of gods and heroes, victorious athletes, statesmen, and philosophers filled temples and sanctuaries, and stood in the public areas of major cities. In fact, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Colossus of Rhodes are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Initially bronze was made out of copper and arsenic. It was only later that tin was used, becoming (except in ancient Egypt) the sole type of bronze in the late 3rd millennium B.C. Tin-alloyed bronze was superior to arsenic-alloyed bronze in that the alloying process itself could more easily be controlled, the alloy was stronger and easier to cast, and unlike arsenic, tin is not toxic. Toxicity was a major factor in the production of arsenic bronze. Repeated exposure to arsenic fumes ultimately led to nerve damage in the limbs. Evidence of the long agony of Bronze Age metalsmiths came down to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of legend, as the Greek and Roman gods of metalsmiths, Greek Hephaestus and Roman Vulcan, were both lame. In practice historical bronze alloys are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was to hand. In one instance of ancient bronze from Britain, analysis showed the bronze to contain a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic, and silver.
Other advantages of bronze over iron include that bronze better resists corrosion, particularly seawater corrosion; bronze resists metal fatigue better than iron; and bronze is a better heat conductor (and thus is better suited for cooking vessels). However ancient bronze, unless conserved properly, is susceptible to “bronze disease”, wherein hydrochloric or hydrosulfuric acid is formed due to impurities (cuprous chloride or sulfur) found within the ancient bronze. Traditionally archaeology has maintained that the earliest bronze was produced by the Maikop, a proto-Indo-European, proto-Celtic culture of Caucasus prehistory around 3500 B.C. Recent evidence however suggests that the smelting of bronze might be as much as several thousand years older (bronze artifacts dating from about 4500 B.C. have been unearthed in Thailand).
Shortly after the emergence of bronze technology in the Caucasus region, bronze technology emerged in ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer), Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization of Northern India, the Aegean, the Caspian Steppes (Ukraine), the Southern Russia/Central Mongolia Region (the Altai Mountains), the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), Anatolia (Turkey) and the Iranian Plateau. By the late third millennium B.C. many Western European Bronze Age Cultures had emerged. Some of the more notable were the Celtic cultures of Middle Europe stretching from Hungary to Poland and Germany, including the Urnfield, Lusatian, and (Iron Age Transitional) Hallstatt Cultures.
The Shang in ancient China also developed a significant Bronze Age culture, noted for large bronze burial urns. The ancient Chinese were the first to cast bronze (using the “lost wax” technique) about 2200 B.C. Prior to that time all bronze items were forged. Though weapons and utilitarian items were produced in great numbers, the production of bronze in ancient China was especially noteworthy for ornamented ritualistic/religious vessels (urns, wine vessels, water pots, food containers, and musical instruments), many of immense size.
Britain’s Bronze Age cultures included the Beaker, Wessex, Deverl, and Rimbury. Copper and tin ores are rarely found together, so the production of bronze has always involved trade. Cornwall was one of the most significant sources of tin not only for Britain, but exported throughout the Mediterranean. Other significant suppliers of tine were the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia (Turkey), as well as Spain. Enormous amounts of copper was produced from the Great Orme mine in North Wales, the island of Cyprus, the European Alps, and from the Sinai Peninsula and other nearby sites in the Levant. Though much of the raw minerals may have come from Britain, Spain, Anatolia, and the Sinai, it was the Aegean world which controlled the trade in bronze. The great seafaring Minoan Empire (about 2700 to 1450 B.C.) appears to have controlled, coordinated, and defended the trade.
Tin and charcoal were imported into Cyprus, where locally mined copper was mined and alloyed with the tin from Britain. Indicative of the seafaring trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, a shipwreck from about 1300 B.C. off the Turkish coast revealed a ship carrying a ton of copper ingots, several dozen small tin ingots, new bronze tools, scrap metal, and a blacksmith's forge and tools (along with luxury trade goods from Africa). It appears that the Bronze Age collapsed with the fall of Minoan Empire, to be replaced by a Dark Age and the eventual rise of the Iron Age Myceneans (on mainland Greece). Evidence suggests that the precipitating event might have been the eruption of Thera (Santorini) and the ensuing tsunami, which was only about 40 miles north of Crete, the capital of the Minoan empire.
Some archaeologists argue that it was Santorini itself which was the capitol city of the Minoan World. However where Crete or Santorini, it is known that the bread-basket of the Minoan trading empire, the area north of the Black Sea lost population, and thereafter many Minoan colony/client-states lost large populations to extreme famines or pestilence. Inasmuch as the Minoans were the principals of the tin/copper shipping network throughout the Mediterranean, the Bronze Age trade network is believed to have failed. The end of the Bronze Age and the rise of the Iron Age is normally associated with the disturbances created by large population disruptions in the 12th century B.C. The end of the Bronze Age saw the emergence of new technologies and civilizations which included the large-scale production of iron (and limited scale production of steel).
Although iron was in many respects much inferior to bronze (and steel was inefficiently produced in very limited quantities), iron had the advantage that it could be produced using local resources during the dark ages that followed the Minoan collapse, and was very inexpensive when compared to the cost of producing bronze. Bronze was still a superior metal, resisting both corrosion and metal fatigue better than iron. And bronze was still used during the Iron Age, but for many purposes the weaker iron was sufficiently strong to serve in its place. As an example, Roman officers were equipped with bronze swords while foot soldiers had to make do with iron blades.
Pliny the Elder, the famous first century Roman historian and naturalist, wrote about the reuse of scrap bronze and copper in Roman foundries, noting that the metals were recast as armor, weapons or articles for personal use, such as bronze mirrors. The melting and recasting foundries were located at the Italian port city of Brindisi. Located on the Adriatic coast, Brindisi was the terminus of the great Appian Way, the Roman road constructed to facilitate trade and military access throughout the Italian part of the Roman Empire. The city was the gateway for Roman penetration into the eastern parts of her empire (Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea Region, the Danubian Provinces, and eventually Mesopotamia).
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.