Artifacts Menu
- Ancient Egyptian Artifacts
- Ancient Persian Artifacts
- Ancient Roman Byzantine
--- Rings, Pendants, Earrings
--- Roman Bracelets
--- Roman Pottery & Glass
--- Roman Gift Plaques
- Roman Coins
- Celtic, Indo-European
- Phoenician and Judaean
- Parthian and Indian
- Medieval Renaissance
- Ancient China
--- China Large Pottey
--- China Statuettes
--- China Bowls
--- China Small Ceramics
--- China Pendants, Lapel Pins
Visit our colleagues...
About US
Contact US
Follow ancientgifts on Twitter

AD1100 Medieval Roman Byzantine Ephesus Sz 9 Ring + 2ct Afghan Lapis Lazuli Gem $139.99

For Customers outside of USA

Size 9 1/4 Genuine Ancient Roman/Byzantine “Solitaire Style” Bronze Ring circa Tenth to Twelfth Century A.D. Antique Handcrafted Nineteenth Century Lapis Lazuli Semi-Precious Gemstone from Afghanistan.

CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) Bronze Ring with Antique Eighteenth Century One and Three-Quarter Carat Lapis Lazuli Semi-Precious Gemstone. Mounted onto plaque or shadow box upon request (additional shipping charges apply).

ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire (Ephesus, near present-day Selcuk, Turkey), 10-12th Century A.D.

SIZE/MEASUREMENTS: Fits ring size 9 1/4 (U.S.).

Diameter: 25mm * 21 1/2mm (overall dimensions); 20 1/2mm * 19 1/2mm (inner diameter).

Bezel: 10 1/2mm (diameter) * 5mm (thickness).

Gemstone: 8 1/2mm (diameter) * 3 1/2mm (thickness). 1.78 carats (approximate weight).

Fixed Width 4 1/2mm Band.

Weight: 2.42 grams (excluding gemstone).

CONDITION: Fair. Intact with only mild wear consistent with moderate (ancient) usage, but heavy porosity (corrosion caused by contact with earth while buried). Wearable but fragile. Professionally conserved.

NOTE: If you request (follow the links below), we could mount the ring 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 Byzantium with an image of the Haggia Sophia in Constantinople. 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 ring could be installed within a glass-front shadow box with or without printed history (see it here).

DETAIL: A nicely styled Roman-Byzantine bronze ring of a simple “solitaire” design, with a classic five-rib design band. This style of band, which bears a very elaborate pattern on the sides of the band wrapping all the way around to the back of the band, was popular in Eastern Europe from the Middle Ages all the way through the late Renaissance and early Victorian period. It is a very elaborate pattern in high relief, the center panel a twisted rope motif, flanked on each side by two additional panels. The ring was clearly originally designed to hold a gemstone. The ring was not actually recovered with the gemstone intact, however usually this style of bronze ring was set either with a glass gemstone (glass was quite costly) or with some form of quartz crystal; i.e. clear quartz, orange quartz (“carnelian”), or purple quartz (“amethyst”). The ring is of simple but durable construction, the bands brazed onto a “cup” style bezel, the bezel itself also possessing an elaborate twisted rope embellishment surrounding the base of the bezel.

The ring itself actually evidences only moderate indications of wear, some flattening of the ornate metal work, etc.; if you limit your search to actual wear caused by the ring being worn in the ancient World of Roman Byzantium. There is some flattening to the raised elements of the braided-rope motif bands, however only very light wear is evidenced. Of course this should not be a source for disappointment. You must keep in mind that the ring was produced by an artisan and sold to a patron or consumer with the idea that the ring would be enjoyed and worn by the purchaser. And without any regard to twenty-first century posterity, that precisely what happened! The original Roman-Byzantine owner of this ring wore it, enjoyed it, and probably never could have in his most delusional moment ever dreamed that a thousand years into the future their ring would still exist.

However both the bands as well as the bezel have been significant degraded due to porosity, telltale evidence that the ring spent many centuries buried in soil. Porosity is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by extended burial in caustic soil. 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. Actually most smaller ancient artifacts such as this are so badly oxidized that oftentimes all that is left is a green (bronze) or red (iron) stain in the soil, or an artifact which crumbles in your hand.

This specimen is not so heavily afflicted it remains intact and is still whole (though it is fragile). Close examination reveals that the ring was indeed extensively disfigured and the metal degraded and left brittle and corroded. You can see large areas where corrosive elements within the soil corroded away pieces of the bands and the ring’s bezel. To the cursory inspection of the casual admirer, it simply looks like an ancient ring, and these blemishes are not immediately discernible. However anything more than the most cursory glance will reveal clear evidence indicating the ring was buried for many centuries. Keep in mind that this artifact spent almost a thousand years buried, and most such artifacts are going to bear mute testimony to the ability of the earth to oxidize (decompose) buried metal.

Despite the ravages that evidence a thousand years of burial, the ring “wears” quite nicely. The ring however is in fragile condition due to the porosity. It can be worn and worn safely, but it must be worn gently and with care. You would not want to play rugby or tackle football while wearing it, nor work on the car, nor operate a jackhammer. You might consider having it mounted on a plaque as suggested above. We can mount the ring onto an oak-framed plaque which narrates a brief outline of the history of ancient Byzantium together with an image of the Haggia Sophia in Constantinople. The plaques are available in small sizes (7*6 inches), larger sizes (11*9 inches), and also in two sizes of glass-front shadow boxes. They’re very attractive, and make exquisite and unique gifts.

The Romans had a number of different adhesives they used, some of the most common being resin and bitumen. However they all had in common the fact that sooner or later, they generally failed. And true to course, this ring was not recovered with the gemstone intact. However clearly it once held a gemstone, and the empty cavity seemed to invite the remounting of a gemstone. So as to preserve a sense of historical continuity, we mounted a large, natural, antique, handcrafted lapis lazuli from the 7,000 year old mines at Badakhshan in Afghanistan, source of lapis lazuli for the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Phoenicians, and the rest of the ancient world. The gemstone was hand shaped and polished into this very beautiful oval cabochon by a nineteenth century Russian artisan near Yekaterinburg, Russia, home of one of Russia’s most famous gemstone and jewelry production centers, famous for producing the elaborate jewelry of Czarist Russia.

Evidence suggests that lapis lazuli has been utilized as a gemstone for at least 10,000 years, making it along with pearls, turquoise, carnelian, and amber amongst the “oldest” gemstones utilized by ancient cultures for decorative purposes. These specimens possess glittering highlights of golden iron pyrite inclusions ("fools gold"). The ancient city of Ur had a thriving trade in lapis lazuli as early as the fourth millennium B.C. The ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman cultures also highly favored lapis lazuli. Renaissance artists used ground lapis as pigment for the fabulous blue in the era’s masterpieces of art. Still very popular in Eastern Europe, the columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral are lined with lapis, and the Pushkin Palace (both in St. Petersburg) has lapis lazuli paneling! Though the gemstone is not as old as the ring, given the fact that many cultures of the classical Mediterranean world (including the Romans and Greeks) made wide use of lapis lazuli in their jewelry, and that the gemstone in itself is historically significant, it seemed an appropriate gemstone to enhance this ring’s beauty, a choice which preserves cultural continuity.

The ring has a very nice medium bronze color with golden undertones, unmistakably bronze, but very attractive. The ring dates to a time when the Western Roman World had collapsed, plunging Western Europe into 1,000 years of darkness. But at the time the Eastern Roman Empire still flourished as one of the globe’s great powers. The Romans and their Byzantine successors were of course very fond of ornate personal jewelry including bracelets worn both on the forearm and upper arm, brooches, pendants, hair pins, earrings, intricate fibulae and belt buckles, and of course, rings. The ring is an interesting historical relic which pertains not only to the history of Roman Byzantium, but also to the history of jewelry production. Despite the evidence of ancient usage and the moderately heavy porosity, this specimen is an exceptional piece of ancient Roman-Byzantine jewelry, a very handsome artifact, and eminently wearable.

BYZANTINE HISTORY: The Byzantine Empire was the eastern remainder of the great Roman Empire, and stretched from its capital in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) through much of Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, and small portions of North Africa and the Middle East. Prior to the fifth century collapse of the Western Roman Empire, one of Rome’s greatest emperors, Constantine the Great, established a second capital city for the Roman Empire in the East at Byzantium, present day Turkey. Constantine The Great sought to reunite the Roman Empire, centered upon Christian faith, by establishing a second "capital" for the Eastern Roman, away from the pagan influences of the city of Rome. Established as the new capital city for the Eastern Roman Empire in the fourth century, Constantine named the city in his own honor, “Constantinople”.

After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, the “Byzantine Empire”, lasted for another thousand years as the cultural, religious and economic center of Eastern Europe. At the same time, as a consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, most of the rest of Europe suffered through one thousand years of the "dark ages". As the center of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople was one of the most elaborate, civilized, and wealthy cities in all of history. The Christian Church eventually became the major political force in the Byzantine Empire. In Byzantine art, God rather than man stood at the center of the universe. Constantine the Great is also credited with being the first Christian Roman Emperor, and was eventually canonized by the Orthodox Church. Christianity had of course been generally outlawed prior to his reign.

Under the Byzantine Empire, Christianity became more than just a faith, it was the theme of the entire empire, its politics, and the very meaning of life. Christianity formed an all-encompassing way of life, and the influence of the Byzantine Empire reached far both in terms of time and geography, certainly a predominant influence in all of Europe up until the Protestant Reformation. In Byzantine art, God rather than man stood at the center of the universe. Representations of Christ, the Virgin, and various saints predominated the coinage of the era. The minting of the coins remained crude however, and collectors today prize Byzantine coins for their extravagant variations; ragged edges, "cupped" coins, etc. Other artifacts such as rings, pendants, and pottery are likewise prized for their characteristically intricate designs.

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.

LAPIS LAZULI HISTORY: Most lapis lazuli contains iron pyrite in the form of golden flecks sprinkled throughout the gemstone, the hallmark characteristic of lapis lazuli, often compared by the ancient with stars in the sky. Lapis Lazuli was among the treasures of ancient Mesopotamia, Byzantium, Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. Lapis Lazuli gets its name from the Arabic word "allazward", meaning "sky-blue". Along with turquoise and carnelian, the three are undoubtedly amongst the most ancient of gemstones. For more than 7,000 years lapis lazuli has been mined as a gemstone in Afghanistan, near ancient Mesopotamia, and traded throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. The ancient source of lapis lazuli was these very same mines at Badakhshan (also known as the “Hindu-Kush” mountains), in the Persian highlands above the fertile Mesopotamian lowlands. The Persian highlands and plateau provided many of the raw materials lacking in the ancient civilizations abounding in the Mesopotamian lowlands (the "fertile crescent"). Records indicate that the Sumerian city of Ur imported lapis lazuli from the mines at Badakhshan as early as 4,000 B.C. In fact, the ancient royal Sumerian tombs of Ur, located near the Euphrates River in lower Iraq, contained more than 6,000 beautifully executed lapis lazuli statuettes of birds, deer, and rodents as well as dishes, beads, and cylinder seals.

The most ancient jewelry typically used one or more of three gemstones (carnelian, turquoise), and lapis lazuli was certainly very popular. How popular? One of the richest examples of ancient jewelry is Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. In the crypt the queen was covered with a robe of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads. The lower edge of the robe was decorated with a fringed border of small gold, carnelian, and lapis lazuli cylinders. Near her right arm were three long gold pins with lapis lazuli heads, and three amulets in the shape of fish. Two of the fish amulets were made of gold and the third, you guessed it, lapis lazuli. On the queen's head were three diadems each featuring lapis lazuli. At roughly the same point in time as Queen Pu-abi’s reign in Ur, lapis lazuli was also certainly popular in 3,100 B.C. with the Egyptians who used it in medicines, pigments (ultramarine), cosmetics (eye-shadow), carved into seals, and of course, in jewelry. The famous mask covering the head of Tutankhamen's mummy is inlaid primarily in lapis lazuli, with accents of turquoise and carnelian. In both the tombs of Tutankhamen and Queen Pu-abi, two of the richest tombs in all history, lapis lazuli was featured prominently in both.

Called the "stone of rulers," in ancient kingdoms like Sumer and Egypt, lapis was forbidden to commoners, worn only by royalty. Ancient Egyptians believed lapis lazuli to be sacred and used it in the tombs and coffins of pharaohs. Much of the lapis lazuli which flowed through the ancient land of Bactria and into Ur was exported to Egypt, where it was known as “khesbed”, which translates to “joy and delight”. In ancient Egypt lapis lazuli was widely used as a talisman believed to provide its wearers with good luck and ward off evil spirits and injury. Lapis lazuli was also thought to possess life-giving powers in ancient Egypt. Lapis was used to produce amulets to protect the mummified remains of pharaoh and commoner alike. It was a common practice to place a lapis amulet, engraved with a chapter of the Book of the Dead, over the area where the heart had been removed from the mummified remains (the heart was believed to be the repository of the soul), prior to the sealing of the sarcophagus. And it is also clear that coupled with gold, lapis lazuli was valued simply for its beauty as jewelry.

Lapis lazuli was also associated with the ancient Egyptian Goddess “Hathor”, goddess of love, music, and beauty, who was often referred to as "the lady of lapis lazuli." Lapis was also associated with both the night sky and the rising run, which was sometimes referred to as the "child of lapis lazuli." The stone was also associated with the primordial waters of the ancient Egyptian creation myth. The Nile was rendered in blue color on grave paintings, blue thought to represent fertility. Lapis lazuli hippopotamuses produced by ancient Egyptian artisans were popular as symbols for the life-giving river. There’s also some evidence that ancient Egyptian judges wore carved lapis amulets of Ma'at, the Goddess of truth, balance and order. These concepts were fundamental to Egyptian life and the rule of the Pharaohs, who portrayed themselves constantly as "Beloved of Ma'at" and "upholders of the universal order". Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs also described medicinal uses for lapis lazuli, including its use powdered, mixed with milk and mud from the Nile as a treatment for cataracts as well as head pains. And of course the ancient Egyptians made wide use of lapis lazuli as eye shadow. In fact, historians document its use as eye shadow by Cleopatra, last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Ancient Egypt.

Popular with another Middle Eastern people, the Israelites, lapis is generally acknowledged by Biblical scholars to be one of the breastplate stones of the High Priest. To the ancient Hebrews, lapis lazuli was the symbol of success, capturing the blue of the heavens and combining it with the glitter of gold in the sun. It was also believed by the ancient Hebrews that the tablets upon which Moses received the Ten Commandments were of lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli was also used by the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians for cylinder seals. According to one ancient Persian legend, the heavens reflected their blue color from a massive slab of lapis upon which the earth rested. Throughout the history of the Ancient Middle East, lapis lazuli has often been regarded a sacred stone and to possess magical powers. The first century Roman historian and naturalist Pliny the Elder accurately described lapis lazuli, though the ancient Romans referred to it as “sapphirus”. The Romans also used lapis lazuli as an aphrodisiac, and associated lapis lazuli with the lord of Gods of the Roman pantheon, “Jupiter” (“Zeus” to the ancient Greeks). Lapis lazuli was also accurately described by Theophrastos, the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher and naturalist.

Besides its use in jewelry, lapis lazuli has also been used since ancient times for mosaics and other inlaid work, carved amulets, vases, and other objects. In antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, there was the belief that the cosmos was reflected in gemstones. Lapis lazuli was associated with the planet Jupiter. In the medieval world lapis was ground and used as a pigment as well as for medicinal purposes. For medicinal applications, the powdered lapis lazuli was mixed with milk and used as a compress to relieve ulcers and boils. Lapis Lazuli and the mines at Badakhshan were described by Marco Polo in 1271 A.D., though the first written accounts of the mines had been produced three centuries earlier, in the tenth century A.D., by the Arab historian Istakhri. When lapis was first introduced to Europe, it was called "ultramarinum", which means "beyond the sea". It was identified as an emblem of chastity, and was thought to confer ability, success, divine favor, and ancient wisdom. According to the 17th century “Complete Chemical Dispensatory”, lapis lazuli was also effective as a cure for sore throat, used to combat melancholy, and a cure for “apoplexies, epilepsies, diseases of the spleen, and many forms of dementia”. The text also indicated that it could be worn about the neck as an amulet to drive away frights from children (timid children were given necklaces of lapis beads in the belief that they would develop courage and fearlessness) to strengthen sight, prevent fainting, and also to prevent miscarriages. Wearing an amulet made of lapis was also thought to free the soul from error, envy and fear as well as protect the wearer from evil.

Ground lapis was the secret of the blue in ultramarine, the pigment which painters used to paint the sea and the sky until the nineteenth century. Used as a pigment most extensively in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the secret behind some of the most beautiful Renaissance-inspired paintings was ground lapis lazuli. In no small part due to the tremendous demand for lapis to produce ultramarine, the cost of lapis was exorbitant in Renaissance Europe. A price list of gems in the eighteenth century, using the emerald as the unit of value, ranked sapphire as twice the value of emerald, ruby as thrice the value, and lapis as fifteen times the cost of emerald. Lapis was also popular in inlays. In what was once one of the cultural capitals of Europe, the columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia are lined with lapis, and the Pushkin Palace has forty foot tall lapis lazuli paneling! Though most of the lapis used in Russia’s landmark architecture was again, from Afghanistan, lapis lazuli was eventually discovered at Russia’s Lake Baikal, as well as in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. In the ancient history of Mesoamerica, an inferior grade of lapis lazuli was mined in Northern Chile for over 1,000 years by the Moche, a culture from the coast of Northern Peru (200 B.C. to 800 A.D.), who were skilled metalworkers, producing ornaments made of gold, silver, and lapis lazuli. Their traditions were carried forward by their successors the Chimu for another 600 years, the Chimu in turn ultimately absorbed by the Incas.

Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and to provide protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world it was believed that ground lapis lazuli consumed as a supplement bolstered skeletal strength and thyroid function. It was also believed to improve sleep, cure insomnia, and was used to treat varicose veins. On the metaphysical plane, lapis lazuli was believed to enhance ones awareness, creativity, extra-sensory perception, and expand ones viewpoint, while keeping the spirit free from the negative emotions of fear and jealousy. Even today lapis lazuli is regarded by many cultures around the world as the stone of friendship and truth. The blue stone is said to encourage harmony in relationships and help its wearer to be authentic and give his or her opinion openly.

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.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."