Russian Christian Orthodox “Golgotha” Cavalry Prayer Cross Pendant ICXC 1700AD $399.99
For Customers outside of USA
Eighteenth Century Handsome Genuine Russian Orthodox Christian Enameled Bronze Golgotha (Cavalry) Prayer Cross Pendant.
CLASSIFICATION: Bronze Christian Byzantine (Russian/Eastern Orthodox) Patriarchal Cross Pendant. Archaic Cyrillic Legend “ICXC” (Christ) + “N???” (Victory): i.e., “Christ Conquers” + “??? ????” (“King of Glory”) + “??? ??I?” (“Son of God”). Also depictions of the “tools of God’s torture”; a spear and cane and the head of Adam in a cave. Opposite side contains in archaic Cyrillic a prayer known as “The Prayer to the Cross”. Contemporary Bronze Tone Chain.
PROVENANCE: Central Russian (Southern Siberia/Southern Urals), Eighteenth Century A.D.
Height: 46 1/2 millimeters.
Breadth: 22 millimeters.
Thickness: 7 1/2 millimeters at bail; 2 millimeters body of pendant.
Weight: 6.44 grams.
Chain: Contemporary bronze tone 48 centimeters (18 inches). A wide variety of other chains are available upon request in sizes from 16 to 30 inches, and in metals ranging from gold and silver electroplate to sterling silver and solid 14kt gold. The default chain (absent contrary instructions) is bronze tone, 18 inches. For a more authentic touch, we also have available handcrafted Greek black leather cords.
CONDITION: Exceptional! Completely intact. Moderately light porosity (surface pitting caused by contact with earth while buried). Very fine finish. Professionally conserved.
DETAIL: DETAIL: In the world after the collapse of Rome, particularly in the surviving eastern fragment of that empire which came to be known as the “Byzantine Empire”, by the fifth century the cross had come to represent the crucifixion and the promise of salvation and everlasting life, and the symbol of the cross was incorporated into many different forms of jewelry and was worn by virtually every citizen of the Roman (and subsequent Byzantine) Empire, from East to West, from pauper to emperor. The culture and religion of Byzantine Rome eventually spread throughout Eastern Europe, and with the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the fifteenth century to the Ottoman forces of Sultan Mehmed II, the “torch” of Byzantine Orthodox Christianity passed to Russia. Russia regarded itself as the cultural heir of the Roman and Byzantine (Christian) Empires.
This is a nicely preserved cross pendant of Byzantine/Russian origin circa eighteenth century (1700’s) Russia. One side of the cross depicts a Slavic Patriarchal Cross (also known as an “Eastern/Russian Orthodox Cross” with two cross bars at top and a slanted cross bar at the base), see references here and here. To the left and right sides of the cross on the cross bars are the letters IC-XC, an early Slavic abbreviation for Christ. Directly beneath that are the letters “??? ????” which is an abbreviation for the “King of Glory”. In the topmost “arm” of the cross are the letters “??? ??I?”, an abbreviation for the “Son of God”. Working down toward the bottom “arm” of the cross you see the four letters “N???”, or “NIKE” (as in the Greco-Roman Goddess of Victory), an abbreviation meaning “Christ Conquers”.
The sacred abbreviation for Christ used in Eastern Greek/Slavic Orthodoxy, “ICXC”, was often placed at the title of crucifixes, and also combined with the abbreviation, “NIKA”. With each phrase on either side of the cross, the meaning is “Jesus Christ Conquers”. The NIKA is taken from the Greek form of “In Hoc Signo Vinces” ("Ev Toutw Nika" – “in this sign you will conquer”), the words that Constantine heard when he witnessed the chi-ro sign (an early cruciform symbol incorporating a cross with the first two letters of Christ, “CH”) in the heavens as a prelude to his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 318 A.D. (more historical detail here).
Flanking the cross on both sides are a spear and a cane, and at the very bottom beneath the cross a depiction of what is meant to be the skull of Adam (as in “Adam and Eve”) inside a cave. Collectively these three symbols are “the tools of God’s torture”. All of the forgoing legends and symbols collectively create what is known as a “Golgotha Cross” , or if you wish, a Russian “Cavalry Cross”. If you’d like to learn more, you can start here and here. The reverse side of the pendant is what changes this cross pendant from being merely a Golgotha Cross, into a Golgotha Prayer Cross. Again, in archaic Cyrillic, is a prayer known as the “Cross Prayer” (see it in modern Cyrillic here. For those of you whose Russian might be better than mine, forgive me for any errors, but as best I can translate (and it is difficult working with archaic, old Russian), the translation of the reverse side of the pendant is:
“Let God arise and his enemies be scattered at once and those who hate him run away from him (dissipate) as smoke disappears, as wax melts from fire (dissipate), as evils die in the face of (on the behalf of) those who love God and bring his cross to the world and bring joy to people who spread the word of God. Hail, fairest of the Holy Cross of the Lord, dispel evil with the strength of God Jesus Christ within you who went to Hell and prevailed over the Devil and presented us with you the Cross, driving out every foe. Hail the most honorable and live-giving Cross of the Lord. Aid me with the help of the Virgin Mary and all the Saints forever. Amen.”
It appears that originally the pendant was enameled (most were), as if you examined the recessed areas of both sides of the pendant there are clear and distinct remnants of decomposed enamel. The reverse side of the pendant is difficult to read as the script is so small (we had a larger specimen with the same inscription, which made it easier to determine the text on this specimen). There’s also a tiny stray “stick” of bronze adhering to the surface of the left “arm” of the pendant, known as “detritus”. It’s a “manufacturing blemish”, though of course the pendant would have been individually moulded and finished. At the upper edge of the same arm, there’s a small pit or ding. This is also likely a moulding blemish as well. However it could be the result of being buried in contact with a small bit of caustic soil.
Otherwise there’s very little wear evident in the pendant. Clearly it was worn, but not worn so long that it would evidence extensive wear. Remember, eighteenth century Russia was still considered “medieval”. Mortality rates were high, life was brief, and infant mortality was also very high. It could be that the pendant was only worn for a few years. In Russia, during the sacrament of baptism, every new Christian was given a cross pendant. Believers did not part with their crosses during all their lives. In the first centuries after adopting Christianity and during medieval times crosses were worn over clothing, on the neck with the aid of a chain or cord, as a clear sign of Christian baptism.
According to popular belief of the time, a cross had to be made of copper/bronze. Most commonly, they were from 2.5 to 5cm in size (1 to 2 inch) and had simple iconography, though clearly this “Golgotha Prayer Cross” is an exception in that it is elaborately detailed. Within the orthodox church chest crosses were and are still used as award for clergymen. However in the late Medieval Era (what would have been the “Renaissance” era in most of Western Europe, body crosses came to be more commonly worn beneath the clothing, although chest crosses were still worn over clothing by priests, monks, pilgrims. In fact even today, aside from the clergy (who still wear crosses outside the clothing), it is not uncommon to see adherents of strict orthodoxy and/or the elderly wearing the cross over their clothing.
It should likewise come as no surprise that upon close inspection are detected the telltale signs that the artifact spent several centuries buried within the soil. The evidence is known as “porosity”, which is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by burial in caustic or acidic 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 centuries. 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.
However this specimen is not so afflicted, and certainly has not been disfigured. Even to close inspection, it simply looks like an ancient artifact, nicely surfaced, no immediately discernible blemishes. You have to look very closely, such as with a jeweler’s loupe or in these photo enlargements, to detect the telltale signs indicating this specimen was buried for centuries. There is a small pit to the reverse side of the pendant, the top surface of the left arm, which could be attributable to being buried. However it seems more likely to be a casting blemish. In any event, though it spent centuries buried, by good fortune there is only an exceptionally light degree of porosity evidenced. It happened to come to rest in very gentle soil conditions. Consequentially, the integrity of the artifact remains undiminished, and despite the very mild porosity, the artifact remains quite handsome, and entirely wearable.
This is truly a significant relic representing the very foundations of the early Christian Church and the spread of Christianity through Europe. With the addition of a contemporary chain it can be worn and enjoyed – an authentic “souvenir” of the Roman/Byzantine/Russian Orthodox Empire. This is truly a significant relic representing the Christian Church of centuries past and the spread of Christianity through Europe, particularly the spread of Byzantine Orthodox Christianity to Russia. It is offered complete with an eighteen inch bronze-tone chain which will darken when worn so as to match the pendant. Upon request, other chains lengths and styles are also available, including solid 14kt gold and sterling silver, in lengths from 16 or 24 inches. We also have available genuine, high-quality leather cords with either brass or sterling silver ends. Worn as a pendant, it would be a wonderfully evocative reminder of the glory which was once Byzantine/Roman Orthodox Constantinople.
HISTORY: The significance of the Christian cross symbol lies in the belief that Jesus Christ was executed by the Governor of the Roman Province of Judaea on a large wooden cross. This Roman form of execution was known as crucifixion, and required that the condemned be tied or nailed to a cross and left to die. This painful method of execution was common for slaves and non-citizens convicted of serious crimes. During the first three centuries of Christianity the symbol of the cross was not commonly used, although descriptions of it are found in Christian writings from the early second century onwards. Rather the symbol of the fish was the predominant symbol used by early Christians as a symbol of their faith. The Chi-Rho monogram, the origin of the Latin Cross, was adopted as a battle symbol by the (allegedly Christian) Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The banner was known as a “labarum”, and ultimately became an early Christian symbol of wider use.
By the third century more simple variants of the cross symbol were much more prominent. Early literature of the period refers to the cross as the “symbol of the Lord”. In Christianity, the cross represents Christ's victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself. Catholic and Orthodox Christians often make the sign of the cross by moving their right hand so as to draw a cross upon themselves. Making the sign of the cross was already a common Christian practice in the time of the fifth century Roman Catholic Saint Augustine, and by that time the cross had come to represent the crucifixion and the promise of salvation and everlasting life, and a cross pendant was worn by virtually every citizen of the Roman/Byzantine Empire, from pauper to emperor.
The Crucifixion Cross was the first of the Instruments of the Passion that came to be venerated in the form of relics, after the original cross was allegedly discovered in 326 by Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. In time, even the “Holy Nails” that were used to nail Christ to the cross would be sought out, discovered, elaborately mounted as relics, and venerated in Catholic circles. A nail, said to be one of these, is mounted in the Iron Crown of Lombardy, preserved in the cathedral of the former Lombard capital, Monza. Many fragments of wood alleged to be fragments of the true cross were brought to Europe during the era of the Crusades.
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.
HISTORY OF RUSSIA: Prior to the current era (before 0 A.D.) the vast lands of South Russia were home to various Proto-Indo-European tribes such as the Scythians. Between the third and sixth centuries A.D., the steppes were overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions when swept through Europe, as was the case with Huns and Turkish Avars. A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled South Russia through the 8th century. They were important allies of the Byzantine Empire and waged a series of successful wars against the Arab Califates. The Early East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia from the 7th century onwards and slowly assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes, such as the Merya, the Muromians and the Meshchera.
In the mid-9th century, a group of Scandinavians, the Varangians, assumed the role of a ruling elite at the Slavic capital of Novgorod. Although they were quickly assimilated by the predominantly Slavic population, the Varangian dynasty lasted several centuries, during which they affiliated with the Byzantine, or Orthodox church and moved the capital to Kiev in A.D. 882. In the 10th to 11th centuries this state of Kievan Rus became the largest in Europe and one of the most prosperous, due to diversified trade with both Europe and Asia. However the opening of new trade routes with the Orient at the time of the Crusades contributed to the decline and defragmentation of Kievan Rus by the end of the 12th century.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, the constant incursions of nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Kipchaks and the Pechenegs, led to the massive migration of Slavic populations from the fertile south to the heavily forested regions of the north. The medieval states of Novgorod Republic and Vladimir-Suzdal emerged as successors to Kievan Rus, while the middle course of the Volga River came to be dominated by the Muslim state of Volga Bulgaria. Like many other parts of Eurasia, these territories were overrun by the Mongol invaders known as the “Golden Horde”, which would pillage Russia for over three centuries. Later known as the Tatars, they ruled the southern and central expanses of present-day Russia, while the territories of present-day Ukraine and Belarus were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, thus dividing the Russian people in the north from the Belarusians and Ukrainians in the west.
Nomadic rule retarded the country's economic and social development. However, the Novgorod Republic together with Pskov retained some degree of autonomy during the time of the Mongol yoke and was largely spared the atrocities that affected the rest of the country. Led by Alexander Nevsky, the Novgorodians repelled the Germanic crusaders who attempted to colonize the region. While still under the domain of the Mongols the duchy of Moscow began to assert its influence in Western Russia in the early 14th century. Assisted by the Russian Orthodox Church Muscovy inflicted a defeat on the Mongols in the Battle of Kulikovo (1389). Ivan the Great (ruled 1456-1505) eventually tossed off the control of the invaders, consolidated surrounding areas under Moscow's dominion and first took the title "grand duke of all the Russia's".
After the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire in 1453 A.D., Muscovite Russia remained the only more or less functional Christian state on the Eastern European frontier, allowing it to claim succession to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire. By the beginning of the 16th century the Russian state set the national goal to return all Russian territories lost as a result of the Mongolian invasion and to protect the southern borderland against attacks of Crimean Tatars and other Turkic peoples. In 1547, Ivan the Terrible was officially crowned the first Tsar of Russia. During his long reign, Ivan annexed the Muslim polities along the Volga River and transformed Russia into a multiethnic state.
By the end of the century, Russian Cossacks established the first settlements in Western Siberia. In the middle of the 17th century there were Russian settlements in Eastern Siberia all the way to the Pacific coast, where the strait between North America and Asia was first sighted by a Russian explorer in 1648. Muscovite control of the nascent nation continued after the Polish intervention of 1605-1612 under the subsequent Romanov dynasty, beginning with Tsar Michael Romanov in 1613. Peter the Great (ruled in 1689-1725) defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War, forcing it to cede even more territory to Russia, including Ingria in which Peter founded a new capital, Saint Petersburg. Peter succeeded in bringing ideas and culture from Western Europe to a severely underdeveloped Russia. After his reforms, Russia emerged as a major European power.
Catherine the Great, ruling from 1762 to 1796, continued Peter’s efforts at establishing Russia as one of the great powers of Europe. Examples of its 18th-century European involvement include the War of Polish Succession and the Seven Years' War. In the wake of the Partitions of Poland, Russia had taken territories with the ethnic Belarusian and Ukrainian population, earlier parts of Kievan Rus. As a result of the victorious Russian-Turkish wars, Russia's borders expanded to the Black Sea and Russia set its goal on the protection of Balkan Christians against a Turkish yoke. In 1783 Russia and the Georgian Kingdom (which was almost totally devastated by Persian and Turkish invasions) signed the treaty of Georgievsk according to which Georgia received the protection of Russia.
In 1812, having gathered nearly half a million soldiers from France, as well as from all of its conquered states in Europe, Napoleon invaded Russia but, after taking Moscow, was forced to retreat back to Europe. The Russian armies ended their pursuit of the enemy by taking his capital, Paris. As a result of the Napoleonic wars Bessarabia, Finland, and Poland were incorporated into the Russian Empire. However the continuation of Russian serfdom impeded the development of Imperial Russia in the mid-19th century. As a result, the country was defeated in the Crimean War, 1853–1856, by an alliance of major European powers, including Britain, France, Ottoman Empire, and Piedmont-Sardinia. Nicholas's successor Alexander II (1855–1881) was forced to undertake a series of comprehensive reforms and issued a decree abolishing serfdom in 1861.
The Great Reforms of Alexander's reign spurred increasingly rapid capitalist development and attempts at industrialization. The Slavophile mood was on the rise, spearheaded by Russia's victory in the War of 1877-1878, which forced the Ottoman Empire to recognize the independence of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and autonomy of Bulgaria. However the failure of agrarian reforms and suppression of the growing liberal intelligentsia were continuing problems however. On the eve of World War I, the position of Tsar Nicholas II and his dynasty appeared precarious. Repeated devastating defeats of the Russian army in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I and the resultant deterioration of the economy led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire and to the overthrow in 1917 of the Romanovs. At the close of this Russian Revolution of 1917, a Marxist political faction called the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd and Moscow under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin.
The Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party. A bloody civil war ensued, pitting the Bolsheviks' Red Army against a loose confederation of anti-socialist monarchist and bourgeois forces known as the White Army. The Red Army triumphed, and the Soviet Union was formed in 1922. The Soviet Union was meant to be a transnational worker's state free from nationalism. The concept of Russia as a separate national entity was therefore not emphasized in the early Soviet Union. Although Russian institutions and cities certainly remained dominant, many non-Russians participated in the new government at all levels.
One of these was a Georgian named Joseph Stalin. A brief power struggle ensued after Lenin's death in 1924. Stalin gradually eroded the various checks and balances which had been designed into the Soviet political system and assumed dictatorial power by the end of the decade. Leon Trotsky and almost all other Old Bolsheviks from the time of the Revolution were killed or exiled, and the ideals of communism died with them. As the 1930’s began, Stalin launched the Great Purges, a massive series of political repressions. Millions of people who Stalin and local authorities suspected of being a threat to their power were executed or exiled to Gulag labor camps in remote areas of Siberia. As bad as the Soviet was for Eastern Europe, it was equally bad for Russia. And though 27 million Russians perished in World War II, it would be difficult to determine in the end who killed more Russians, the Nazi’s or the Soviet Union itself under Stalin.
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 practical significance were bronze agricultural implements, tools for cutting stone, and weapons.
On the other hand, of particular cultural significance 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.
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