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A Roman Gold Grape Earring, ca 1st century AD

mold-make central front panel with large granules arranged to form a grape, a twisted loop wire at the back.

Romans often used a grape motif in their art, especially jewelry. S ignificant to Roman everyday life, grapes are the main ingredients of wine. The Roman belief that wine was a daily necessity made the drink democratic and ubiquitous. Wine was available to slaves, peasants, women and aristocrats alike. To ensure the steady supply of wine to Roman soldiers and colonists, viticulture and wine production spread to every part of the empire. Early Roman culture was sharply influenced by the ancient Greeks. Thus, wine had religious, medicinal and social roles that set it apart from other Roman cuisine. As Rome entered its golden age of winemaking and the era of expansion, an egalitarian approach to wine started to emerge. Wine was increasingly viewed as a necessity of everyday life rather than simply a luxury enjoyed by the elite. Though such gold jewelry may not have been enjoyed by lower classes, the grape motif celebrates Rome as the great Republic that it was, making the earrings not simply a symbol of excess and elitism.

Condition:  Some expected denting to the granules but otherwise intact and in excellent condition overall.  A very charming example. 

Dimensions:Length 1.9 cm (3/4 inch)

Provenance:  Forming part of the James Stephan Snr. collection, assembled in the 1950's to early 1960's and then by descent.  Dr. Stephan was a US intelligence officer who also held a degree in archaeology.  He was posted in the Anatolian region of Turkey with the US government during this time, and acquired his collection from dealers and villagers throughout the region.

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